United States Boy Scout Uniforms: 1920s--Uniform Details

Figure 1.--This Scout troop demonsrated camps skills on campout near Scranton, Pennsylvania/ The photograph has 1924 written on the back, but it does not look like the 1920s to HBC. Short pants were not common in the 1920s, except at camps. Most Scouts in the 20s wore knickers, nit long pants. Note that none of the boys wear neckerchifs.

American Scouts in the 1910s and at the beginning of the 1920s seem to have worn an essentally military style uniform. The American Scout uniformns continued to be the khaki Army-style uniform after World War I (1914-18). and continued to look like American army uniforms. The BSA modernized its uniforms in 1922 to the style we would recognize today. The BSA sought to have a uniform that would not be mistaken for the army uniform. The boys wore the Smokey Bear type hats were retained. Coats and leggings were dropped. A shirt and neckerchiefs were added. Not all troops took to the neckerchief at first. Scouts could wear shorts and knee socks in the summer, knickers and knee socks in the winter. Unlike England, however, short pants were not commonly worn, instead scouts generally wore knickers with knee socks. The BSA made shorts pants a part of the uniform and encouraged their use. [Macleod, p. 183.] The boys, howver, were having none of it and refused to wear them--except at jamborees and camps. We have acquired little written information about the Scout uniform in the 1920s. Unfortunately, many early images are undates, so it is not claer of they were taken in the late 1910s or early 1920s.


Macleod, David I. Building Character in the American Boy: The Boy Scouts, YMCA, and Their Forerunners, 1870-1920 (The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983), 315p.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: August 14, 2002
Last updated: August 14, 2002