Uniforms of Boys' Youth Groups: Salvation Army


Figure 1.--These English boys are participating in the Salvation Army by forming the band. Note their Hats on the ground and that their Jerseys appear to be embroidered with 'Salvation Army' The photograph is undated, but was probably taken in the 1910s. Image courtesy of the MD collection.

The Salvation Army is primarily an adult organization. There is, however, a junior auxilery. HBC at this time has only limited information on the junior auxilery. It appears to have been more important in England than other countries. The Salvation Army, for example, is very important in America than other countries. Yet we have never heard of a junior auxilery in America. An English reader has mentioned to HBC that he belonged to the Salvation Army as a boy. HBC did not realize that there was a junior auxilery. He reports that his uniform was less militaristic than the adult uniform. In addition to the Junior Auxilery, the salvation rmy sponosored activities for boys. We are not sure about girls. The children involved were not necesarily members of the youthauxilery. bit the goal would hsve ben to incolve the children with churches. We are noy yet sure anout country trends,m but believe that Engknd and merica were the orimzry countries involved.

Background

The Salvation Army was founded by William Booth. He was born in Nottingham, England during 1829. William at the age of 13 had to work as an apprentice in a pawnbroker's shop to help support his mother and sisters. He didn't like it, but at a very young age he became personally aquainted with poverty and how unfortunate people suffered humiliation and degradation because of it. As a teenager, Booth accepted Jesus Chist as his savior and became a Christian. Another key individual in the early Salvation Army was Catherine Mumford who was born in Ashbourne, Derby, in 1829. When Booth's apprenticeship was completed he moved to London, again to work in the pawnbroking trade. He joined up with the local Methodist Church and later decided to become a minister. It was in London that he met and mairred Mumford. Booth became a Methodist minister and eventually found is calling in preaching to the poor. He formed a movement which he called "The Christian Mission", a first preaching to the working-class population of London's Eastend. It was not an easy effort and Booth and his early supporters were often pelted with rocks and fire crackers. Booth's movement began to emege as a major force in the late 1870s. The name was changed to the Salvation Army. The idea of an Army fighting sin caught the imagination of the time and the Salvation Army began to grow rapidly. Booth's fiery sermons and sharp imagery effectively drove the message home. More recruits committed themselves to leave their past behind and start a new life as a soldier in The Salvation Army. Inevitably, the military spirit of the movement meant that The Salvation Army soon spread. When Booth died in 1912 the Army was estanblished in 58 different countries.

Youth Auxilary

The Salvation Army is primarily an adult organization. There is, however, a junior auxilery. HBC at this time has only limited information on the junior auxilery. It appears to have been more important in England than other countries. The Salvation Army, for example, is very important in America than other countries. Yet we have never heard of a junior auxilery in America. An English reader has mentioned to HBC that he belonged to the Salvation Army as a boy. HBC did not realize that there was a junior auxilery.

Country Trends

Our information on Salvation Army country trends is limited. There was clearly a Junior Auxilery to the Salvation Army in England. The Army was active in many other countries. We are unsure, however, as to just what other countries had Junior Auxileries. All of our images and much of our information comes from British sources. I have never seen actual photographs of Salvation army Junior Auxileries in the United States. I have seen them depicted in movies, but am unsure just how authoratative thus was. We believe that even in countries with Junior Auxileries, rather small numbers of boys were involved. England may be an exception, but even in England the juniot auxileries seem a rather small number of boys compared to the larger youth groups like the Scouts and Boys' Brigade. We also see boys in America involved in a range of activities. As in Europe, the number of boys seem small compared go Scouting. There may have been regional differences. The SA youth activities may have been most pronounced in the Bible Belt. Here we are just beginning to collect information.

Activities

We have very limited information on Salvation army youth activities at this time. This is in part because we have little information on the program as a whole. Certinly music and bands was a very important activity. The Junior Auxilery of the Salvation Army is often depicted as participating in small bands, used to attract crowd for the sermons delivered by adults. Almost all of the images that we have found show boys involved with these bands. The photograph here is a good example (figure 1). We also notice Salvation Army Summer camps, although we don't know very much about them. We are not sure if the summer camps were for children or youth leaders. We are unsure at this time what other activities in which the junior members partcipated.

Gender

We have very limited infomation about the SA Junior Auxileries at this time. The limited information we have on the SA and the few images show boys participating. We are not sure why this was. Perhaps the boys were more interested because if the activity was primarily brass band instruments and drums. We do not know if girls participated or even if they were allowed to do so. I think it would not have been considered quite proper for girls to participate in the early 20th century. Even in the mid-20th century, however, we still see band griups made up entirely of boys.

Uniform

The early Salvation Army did not have a standardized uniform. Many early SA soldiers wanted to adopt familiar military trappings. Military terms became standard--church halls became corps; giving in the offering was referred to as "firing a cartridge'. Flags, badges, brass bands and uniforms were added, together with a military style rank system for its staff. According to years of service, position and level of responsibility in the organisation, trimmings worn on the uniform indicated rank. This was not unusual in the late 19th century. Even without a religious motivation, the wearing of military ceremonial uniforms was widely popular among the working class men in the late 19th century in Britain. The first marching Salvationists did not have standardized uniforms. Soldiers dressed in a rather strange assortment of clothing and headgear. It took almost 2 years to standardise Salvation Army uniform, but by the beginning of 1880 a standard navy blue serge uniform was introduced for both men and women. There was also a uniform for junior members.

Personal Experiences

We do not have many individual accounts about the Salvation Army. A few readers have provided us some information about their experiences. So far they have primarily come from Britain. This may suggest that the movement or at least the youth auxilery was especially strong in Britain. Some but not all of the boys were drawn into the SA because their parents were active. Memories about SA bands seem especially strong.

Sources

Hattersley, Roy. Blood and Fire. Hattersley, a former Labour politican is esoecially intetested in Protestant evangelism. He subsequently did a biography of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church entitled A Brand from the Burning: The Life of John Wesley.








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Created: November 14, 2001
Last updated: 8:59 PM 10/26/2014