The idea of uniformed youth groups appears to have appealed to American boys and adult ssault leaders in the late-19th century. News of European groups like the Boys' Brigade and Wandervogel may have raised interest in America. Or the idea may have occurred indepdentenly to Americans at the local level and the individuals involved made no attempt to form national organizations. we are sure about spnsors, but schools and churches may ave been involved. We have found some images which suggest community orgnizations, but without any detailed information associated with the photograph. at this pont we can only make inferences bsed on what we see in the available photograhic record. Once the Boy Scouts were organized we no longer see these local, at least until the late-20 century when participating began to have differences of opinion about BSA policies.
This cabinet portrait shows a group of boys all wearing sailor suits, alhough different styles (figure 1). They are posed in front of a 43-star American flag and dated 1892-93. The names of the boys are written on the back, but no information about just what the group was. The boys are all about the same age which might suggest a school group. We would guess about 8-10 years old. We do not know what their relationship was, but we are guessing based on the similarity of dress that it was some sort of local youth group. We are also unsure about the pose. We thought at first it might be agroup of pool rack boys. But working-class boys were less likely to wear sailor suits than middle-class boys. We think what look like pool cues were used rather like rifles for drill. Early youth groups like the Boys' Brigade as well as school gym aoften stressed gum.
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