American Children's Periodicals: Boys' Life

Figure 1.--

Boys' Life is the official periodical publication of the American Boy Scout Association. The BSA began publishing Boys' Life in 1911. The magazine focuses heavily on Scouting, but is in fact a general interest magazine with informative articles and adventure stories and cartoons of interest to boys. The articles and stories cover a broad range of subjects from sports to history. The articles normally have photographs and the stories normally have illustrations. A good example is a hockey story we noted in 1932. Also included are Scout related articles such as how to use a compass, set up a camp, or pack a canoe. Special empasis is given to articles related to the more than 100 merit badges that Scouts can work on. This of course has varied over time, just as the content of the magazine has varied. Regular departments or features in the modern issues are: science, nature, earth, health, sports, space and aviation, cars, computers, entertainment, pets, history, music, and others. Most articles and stories are written with Scouts and Scout age boys in mind, but some material is written for the younger Cubs or the older Venture Scouts. The BSA subsidizes the cost of producing the magazine by selling commercial advertising space. The magazine is also rich in illustrations. In fact Norman Rockwell as a young illustrator drew for Boys' Life. Rockwell maintained this association with Scouting all his life. Another important illustrator was Louis Schroeder. These advertisments and illustrations given the long press run of the magazine make it a useful source of information to assess both changes in the Scout uniforms and regular boys' clothing over time. A good example of an advertisement in the magazine is a Shinola ad (1930). The circulation in 2004 was about 1.3 million.


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Created: 3:25 AM 1/29/2005
Last updated: 3:25 AM 1/29/2005