Boys' Historic Uniforms: The 1950s


Figure 1.--Scouts all over the world in the 1950s wore short pants and kneesocks. Only in America did Cubs and Scouts mostly wear longs.

Youth groups were significantly affected by World war II. Fascists grouos established before and during the War quickly disappeard. Scouting in Western Europe was retuning to normal by the 1950s after the war-time supression by the NAZIs and Fascists. Scouting became particularly popular in Japan. The Communists after the NKVD take overs continued to supress the movement in Eastern Europe. There was substantial growth of Scouting in the developing countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The Soviets began giving much more attention to the Young Pioneer program and the movement was found in the Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe. This was a school based program and not voluntary like Scouting. Substantial emphasis was still placed on the uniorms. Scouts in western Europe wore uniforms with more national differences and increasingly shorter shorts, following the fashions of the day. .

Major Developments

The 1950s saw Scouting grow around the world. Ther nationalisdt groups that had been so important in Germany and Italy no longer existed and Scouting was once more popular there. The Communist Yong Pioneers grew during this period and membership included a very large number of boys in Eastern Europe Russia, China, and other Asian Communist countries. Authorities in these countries banned Scouting.

Scouting

World Scouts in 1951 hold the 7th World Jamboree in Bad Ischel, Austria. It is attended by 700 American Scouts for a total of 13,000 Scouts from 41 countries. World Scouts hold the 8th World Jamboree in Niagra-on-the-Lake, Canada during 1955. It is attended by 1,500 Americam Scouts for a total of 11,000 Scouts from 71 countries, a substantially increased number of countries--showing the spread of Scouting around the world from its esentially European and American origins. World Scouts in 1957 held the 9th World Jamboree in Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire, England. It was attended by 1,700 American Scouts for a total of 32,000 Scouts from 82 countries. Scouts around the world in 1957 celebrate the 50th anniversary of the world Boy Scout movement. World Scouts in 1959 hold the 10th World Jamboree in Laguna, Phillipine Islands. This was the first world jamboree held outside Europe and North America. It was attended by 309 American Scouts for a total of 12,000 Scouts from 44 countries.

American Scouts in 1950 held the 2nd National Jamboree, Valley Forge, PA. Attendance totals 47,163. There is general agreement that the national jamborees need to be held more frequently on a regular basis. The first Boy Scout stamp issued by the Post Office in 1950. The BSA in 1952 conducts a national get-out-the-vote campaign. The BSA responding to complaints from western Scouts about the difficukty of reaching the east coast, holds the third National Jamboree, Irving Ranch, CA in 1953. Attendance totals 45,401. The BSA national office in 1954 moves to New Jersey. The BSA introduces the National Conservation Good Turn in 1954. Webelos Dens introduced in 1954 to provide a bridge to Boy Scouts. The BSA reported in 1955 100,000 units has been chartered. The BSA holds the first Pinewood Derby in 1955. The BSA in 1956 conducts another national get-out-the-vote campaign. The BSA olds the 4th National Jamboree, Valley Forge, PA during 1957, alternating between coasts. Attendance totaled a record 50,100. The BSA in 1958 distributes Civil Defense emergency handbooks. The BSA in 1959 introduces the Bobcat pin. Scouting magazine in 1959 begins to use full color. The modern Exploring program introduced in 1959.


Figure 2.--Most American Cubs in the 1950s wore the long pants uniform. Virtually the only Cubs around the world to do so. The uniform was almost identiucal to the original 1930s uniform, except for the knockers.

Nationalist Groups

Ther nationalisdt groups that had been so important in Germany and Italy no longer existed and Scouting was once more popular there. The pre-World War II right-wing youth movements like the Hitler Youth and allied groups were disbanded in 1945 at the end of the War. Some new groups without the unsavory reputatiion of the pre-War groups were formed. Generally these groups have proven to be fringe groups of little importance. There were a few exceptions. Both the NVJ and CHIRO in Belgium grew in the 1950s.

Young Pioneers

The Communist Young Pioneers grew sunstantially during this the 1950s. The Soviet Union began giving much more attention to the Young Pioneer youth movement during the 1950s. They also over saw the foundation of the movement in their Eastern European satellites. The Commiunist victory in China (1949) was anoher factor in the growthof the Young Pioneer movement. The movement thus came to include a very large number of children in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, and other Asian Communist countries. Scoting was well established in Eastern Europe before World War II, especially Poland, Czeschoslovakia, and Hungary. The triumph of the Communists meant that Scouting was banned as had been the policy of the Soviets before World War II. The Communists did not want any group that they did not control to be able to influence young people.

Uniforms

Countries developed their own very differnt uniform styles, making international jamborees quite colorful events. The only consistent thread around the world was that all Scouts wore short pants and keesocks. Other elements of the uniform such as caps and shorts were quite varies. The colors of the uniform also varied widely. The only significant exceptions to the short pants and kneesocks was Scotland where the boys wore kilts and the United Sates where boys mostly wore long pants. Some American Scouts wore shorts, but except for camp and jambores, most Scouts wore long pants. American Cubs werte even less likelt to wear short pants than the older Boy SDcouts. This is because Cub camps were less common in the 1950s than is the case today. And it was camp outings and Jamborees where Boy Scouts were most likely to wear the short pants uniform.





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Created: November 15, 1998
Last updated: 7:11 PM 5/30/2008