Historical Boys' Organization Uniforms: Principal Topics

Belgian boy scouts
Figure 1.--The Belgian Scouts were photographed on an outing during 1947, just a few years after World War II. We are not sure which association this was.

The principal pages in this web site are the pages on the various youth organizations them selves. There are several other topics in this main area of HBU with information on the unforms worn at various activities, biographies of important individuals associated with youth groups, uniform changes over time, national differences, and details concerning specific garments. There is introductory information describing the information avaialble at this site. Click here for a describtion of HBU and the type of information you will find at our site. Boys participating in uniformed groups have participated in a variety of activities from bands to summer camp to rocket launching. Uniforms were often designed for rough outdoor wear, but many boys also wore them to school and church. Boys in the uniforms of the groups discussed here have been used in advertising. HBC is unaware of many artists that have addressed youth groups. Many illustrators have provided wonderful drawings, especially of Scouting. Some individuals have played a major role in the development of boys' uniformed groupd. Background on their lives is useful in understanding the organizations they founded and the uniforms adopted by those organizations. A survey of the chronological development of uniforms and the interests of boys in the uniforms. This sections follows the development of boys' uniformed groups and the uniforms they wear from the mid-19th century. Most all countries at some point in their history have had Scout groups. At other times Scouts have been baned by Fascist and Communist governments which formed competing organizations. Other grroups have been formed in a smaller number of countries. HBU wants to analize the informnation we are compiling to determine the historical and social trends that are relected in youth groups and the uniforms worn by the members of these groups. We have at this time only one essay, but more are planned. A survey of the various garments employed by the different uniformed groups and an assessment of changes over time. The information here is organized by garment. Uniformed groups have over time worn a wide varity of garment as part of their uniforms. Most groups have shared uniforms of similar styles. The Scouts have been the single-most influential group in setting the styles of youth group uniforms. Details on the background and uniforms of the Scouts and other youth groups. Some of the organization, especially the Scouts, will be broken down by countries or branches like Sea Scouts. Most of the groups are familiar namesm, but there are large numbers of groups, both contemporary and current that may not be as familiar. Others like the Hitler Youth pertain only to one country. The information here is organized by organization.

Introduction

Detailed information describing the information avaialble at this site. Click here for a describtion of HBU and the type of information you will find at our site.

Activities

Boys participating in uniformed groups have participated in a variety of activities from bands to summer camp to rocket launching. Uniforms were often designed for rough outdoor wear, but many boys also wore them to school and church. Many uniformed groups participated in similar activities such as bands and outdoor games, other groups has more destinctive programs such as weapons training pursued by the Hitler Youth. These pages helped to comapre the various uniforms worn by boys in different groups at similar activities.

Advertisements

Boys in the uniforms of the groups discussed here have been used in advertising. This has been somewhat limited. The Young Pioneers coming from Communist countries were not used in advertising. Scout policies and trademark rules have limited the use of Scout uniforms, altnhough there has been some usage. I do not know of Hitler Youth images used for advertising, although there may have been some. This is a new section of HBU that we have just begun.

Art

HBC is unaware of many artists that have addressed youth groups. Many illustrators have provided wonderful drawings, especially of Scouting. Of course there is always the question as to just where you draw the line between an artist and illustrator. There are also some striking Hitler Youth drawings, but I am unsure as to who the illustrator was.

Biography

Some individuals have played a major role in the development of boys' uniformed groupd. Background on their lives is useful in understanding the organizations they founded and the uniforms adopted by those organizations. The most famous individual is of course Lord Baden-Powell who founded the Scouting movement, but many other individuals have played important roles. We are particularly interested in their roles in helping to design the varius uniforms, but this information is often not readily available.

Chronology

A survey of the chronological development of uniforms and the interests of boys in the uniforms. This sections follows the development of boys' uniformed groups and the uniforms they wear from the mid-19th century. The information here is organized by decade. The most important decade was of course the 1900s when Scouting was founded, but the Scouts were not the first uniformed group and there was considerable activitybin the 19th century.

Countries

Most all countries at some point in their history have had Scout groups. At other times Scouts have been baned by Fascist and Communist governments which formed competing organizations. Other grroups have been formed in a smaller number of countries. Some groups have been organized only in specific countries. The information here is organized by country. We have a great deal of information on some countries like America, England, France, and Germany, but information is lacking on many other countries.

Essays

HBU wants to analize the informnation we are compiling to determine the historical and social trends that are relected in youth groups and the uniforms worn by the members of these groups. We have at this time only one essay, but more are planned.

Events

HBC has focused primarily on the various uniformed youth groups. A reader has mentioned that these groups have sponsored and or participated in a variety of events and competitions that are also of interest. The events fall into a range of categories: athletic, choral, group, musical, patriotic, political. religious, and other. The events in which they participated depended on the character of the group. The Boy Scouts from the beginning were apolitical, attracting boys from various political parties. Other groups such at the Hitlert Youth and Young Pioneers were completely politicized. Some groups like the Boys' Brigade had a strong religious component while the Young Pioneers actively promoted aethism. There have also been significant changes over time concerning popular events.

Hair Styles

We note consideable differences as to hair styles worn by boys in uniformed youth groups. Some organizations like the Boy Scouts do not appear to have exerted any influence on hair styles. Scout hair styles appear to have changed over time and are a reflection of a variety of popular styles. Other organizations like the Hitler Youth appear to have exerted more influence on the hair styles the boys wore, at least they are more uniform. We are less sure about the influence of other groups like the Young Pioneers.

Photography

As youth groups are for the most part a 20th century phenomenon, there is a wonerful photographic record of these groups. The introduction of the Kodak Brownie (1900) was the perfect too for photographing Scouting activities. Studio photogrphy coud catch images of the children in thir inifoems, but that is a tiny fraction of what was involved with these organizations. Amateur photography gave not only the Scouters to to capture images of their groups, but the boys themselves to create reords of their experienes and friends. Scouts often had photography merit badges. Here countries varied both as to the popularity of youth groyps and the popularity of photography. Both were influences by economic factors. Scouting was a largely middle-clss movement. The totalitrian youth groups (Bailla, Hitler Youth, and Pioneers) were mass movements with state mandated participation. Thus economics was not a factor. Photograph was not cheap. And thus the photographic record was most extensive in the coutries with posperous economies. Of course the size of the country is also important. This we have the largest pgotographic record from America with its large prosperous population. For the same reason there is asubstntial photogrphic record from Britain, Germany and France. Other prosperous countries might have a relative small photographic record because of their small populations.But despite large populations there is a much smaller photographic record from China, India and the soviet Union--even though the Soviets had the Pioneer movenent with mndatory articipation. W know of a few individuals that were paricularly noted for youth group photograhy. Bill Harcourt was a noted photographer of American Scouting.

Religion

Religion has been a part of boys' youth groups from the earliest days. Religion is not precisely an 'activity' in boys' youth groups, but more of a value or commitment promototed to varying degrees by various youth groups. Most youth groups are secuclar movement that promote religion to varying degrees, but some groups are organized as primarily religious groups or fellowships.

Sponsorship

Youth groups around the world and over time have varied. One of the key differences between the many different youth groups is sponsorship, especially the level of government control. Some youth movements have been totally controlled by governments (NAZI Hitler Youth and Communist Young Pioneers). Other youth movements were organized independently of government control, although they may receive varying levels of state support. Göring after the War claimed that the Hitler Youth were simply the Boy Scouts. They were not and the essential difference was state control. This some what mirrors education trends, although governments have tended more commonly to control school systems. The issue of sponsorship is not just that of government control, but also what non-governmental institutions are involved.

Uniforms

Most youth groups hd uniformds. Excetiobswere the Bys;' Clunbs and YMCA. The various uniformed youth groups all had destinctive uniforms. IScouts hd uniforms which varied from country to country. Often there was a ingle natinal uniform. n some countries, however, tee were mtiple associations, each with destinctive uniforms. A survey of the various garments employed by the different uniformed groups and an assessment of changes over time. The information here is organized by garment. Uniformed groups have over time worn a wide varity of garment as part of their uniforms. Most groups have shared uniforms of similar styles. The Scouts have been the single-most influential group in setting the styles of youth group uniforms. Another interesting question is who purchased yunforms that the children in the various geoups wore. Most youth gtoups were middle class organizations. And participation wa voluntary. This meant hat the parents were largely responsible for purchasing the uniforms.

Garments

A survey of the various garments employed by the different uniformed groups and an assessment of changes over time. The information here is organized by garment. Uniformed groups have over time worn a wide varity of garment as part of their uniforms. Most groups have shared uniforms of similar styles. The Scouts have been the single-most influential group in setting the styles of youth group uniforms.

Purchasing the Uniform

Another interesting question is who purchased yunforms that the children in the various geoups wore. Most youth gtoups were middle class organizations. And participation wa voluntary. This meant hat the parents were largely responsible for purchasing the uniforms. And for middle-class families a youth unform was a modest expense. And here standards varied. We note many accounts of Scouts getting odd jobs so they could purchase their uniirms. This was mostly in the early years when Scouting was enormously ppular and youth activities more limited than is cirrently the case. This was also the case during the Depression (1930s). hen I was a Cub Scout in the 1950s we all had full, proper uniforms which we were very proud to wear. We note that latter in the 1970, many Cuns wore jeans rather than th official Cub pants. And the photohraphic record shows many example of boys and girls in group situations mor ewearing the proper unifirm. This varied over time and fom both youth groups and individual units. We note that this was a problem with the British Boy Scouts (BBB), a rival for Baden-Powell's Boy Scout Association (BSA). Sir Francis Vane worked in working-clas areas and began pbuying the iniforms many parents could not afforsd. This was the reason that Vane quickly went bankrupt and the BBB largely collapsed. The Bitish BSA solved part of the ptoblem by making grey shorts part of the uniform for Cubs and khaki shorts for the Scouts. These were items that many boys already had. The situation was diffent in the youth groups in totalitarian countries. Here the children were required to participatr, although tht did not always occur. Itlin children had to join the Fscost Balilla after Mussolini seized control of Italy. This was a poor country, especially in the South, and we believe that not all children did. We see Balilla officials passing out uniforms and clothing to some of the children. The Hitler Youth organiztion expected parents to properly uniform the children. Some parents were very poor and others did not like the NAZIS, using poverty as an excuse. Some uniforms were provided, but we do not know how common they were. We belive that most of the children wanted the uniforms, which was a powerful motivation for most parents. We kniwcless about the Soviet Young Pioneers. We see few well iniformed groups before World war II. After the War we note examples of the YP passing out parde uniforms. In addition low cot uniforms were offred in Soviet srores.

Vintage Uniforms

We have begun to collect some information on vuntage youth uniforms. One is the American ABS uniform, an early competitor with the BSA. We have another American uniform

Youth Organizations

Details on the background and uniforms of the Scouts and other youth groups. Some of the organization, especially the Scouts, will be broken down by countries or branches like Sea Scouts. Most of the groups are familiar namesm, but there are large numbers of groups, both contemporary and current that may not be as familiar. Others like the Hitler Youth pertain only to one country. The information here is organized by organization.

Other Information

HBU is also collecting a variety of other information providing insigts into the uniforms worn by uniformed youth groups. One interesting source of information is postage stamps. The postage stamps provide some useful informattion as to how these groups are viewed in different countries.







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Created: 4:30 AM 10/14/2004
Last updated: 6:01 AM 8/30/2014