Historic Boys' Uniforms: Questions

Figure 1.--French artist Pierre Jobert is renowned for his drawings of French Scouting.

Do you have any questions about the uniforms worn by boys' youth groups. HBC would be glad to try to answer them. We might know the answer. If we do not, your questions often lead to useful avenues of investigation. We will also post them in case HBU's astute readers might know the answer.

1. Why did kneesocks persist so long as part of Scout uniforms even after boys stopped commonly wearing them? Nicholas Meterfield: There are probably two principal reasons. One is tradfition. There is a great deal of tradition associate with Scouting--the principal boys' youth organizatrtion. Traditions to die out easily. Second, kneesocks were a practiocal garment for camping and hiking, saving a lot of wear and tear when ,moving through scrub and bramble along the trail. Another factor to consider is that boys in some countries (England, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and others), continued wearing kneesocks to school and other times, long after American boys stopped doing so.

2. Why does every one appear to be adopting baseball caps? After all, baseball is played in only a few countries. Fred Norman: Yes, that does appear to have been a common trend in the 1990s. A lot of youth groupsd no longer commonly wear caps at all. But the current trend does appear to be away from the once ubiquitous beret to the baseball cap. Part of the reason may be practicality. The baseball cap has a peak, useful in keeping the sun off your face. HBC believes that perhaps the larger reason id the World's infatuation with American culture.

3. Why are so many European Scout association dropping uniform requirements or at least not enforcing them. The uniform used to be an element of Scouting that appealed to boys. Philip Audery: A good question. Yes I think you are correct. The uniform did used to appeal to boys. I think this might still be true among Cubs. But boys of Scout age in many countries, especially European countries no longer like the idea of wearing a uniform. Almost certainly this trend has come from the boys them selves. HBU thinks that this is a general trend of boys to resist anything associated with descipline. Scouting associations have been forced to adjust to this trend, otherwise many boys might not join. HBU would be interested in any insights readers might have pn this trend.

4. I am interested in getting information, (specifically pictures) on French scout and cub uniforms of the 1940s. I am a costume designer for a play that will be presented soon. This play is set in the very early 1940s and one of the characters is a young boy (the boy has not been cast yet and may be too young to be a scout, so I would be looking to duplicate either the scout or cub uniform from that era.) I would be grateful for any help you could give me. Jane Walkowiak: Jane, There is a considerable amount of information on French Scout and Cub uniforms over the years in HBU. As you may know, unlike America, there is no single French Scout association or Scout uniform so there is in fact a wide variety of uniforms. One note, France was of course occupied by the Germans from May 1940 to August 1944. The Germans and Vichy French disapproved of Scouting (to English) and there was a nationalist youth group promoted by Vichy officilas. This is also covered in HBU.

5. I am a Cub Scout leader. I was wondering if you would happen to know what the Boy Scouts in Germany wear as their uniform. All and any kind of help you send me would be appreciated not only by my son's den and pack but myself as well. Sincerely. Tammy Davies: Your question is not as simple as it sounds. First of all, Scouting has never been as important in Germany as in America and most other Europeam countries. First there was Wandervogel and then the youth organizations of political parties and religious groups were important. Of course in 1933 Scouting was outlawed and the Hitler Youth became the principal and eventually the only youth group. German Scouting was reinstituted after the War. However in Germany as is in many other countries, there is no one national Scout association, but several associations split primarily on religious grounds. Added to all of this is that German boys no longer like to wear uniforms like they used to, so many Scout and Cub groups meet with only a smatering of uniforms, such as a few boys wearing kerchiefs.

6. Please enlight this California Scout. What is a "woggle"? I was a cub, a scout and then a scoutmaster for 35 years, and I don't think I ever wore a "woggle". Oh, yes you did. A "woggle" is Brit-speak for a kerchief holder which all of us Cubs ans Scouts use to make at camp. HBU bets you, in fact, made more than one.

7. I am costuming the musical play Gypsy for a local community theatre here in Columbia, South Carolina, and have a quick scene from the mid to late 1920's with four boy scouts and need to APPROXIMATE the look of the day. Can you help me find some info and /or pictures. I'm not looking for perfect. I don't want to offend anyone and want the boys to be easily recognized as Boy Scouts. Any information would be very much appreciated! Janet Kile Sure have a look at the U.S. Scout chronology pages.

8. I would appreciate access to these pages as I am writing a paper for an anthroplogy class on the symbolic affects of culture. The scout uniform with each country's culture adding it's own "mark" to the uniform serves as a basis for my paper. I am particularily concerned with the variation between American and Canadian uniforms. Thank-you for you help - Bonnie Galenzoski HBU has much more information on American Scouting, but there is some information on Canadian Scouting. We would be very interested in the outcome of your research. [Note: Bonnie has indicate that she will share the results of her research with us. So we will be looking forward to that.]

Christopher Wagner

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Created: April 20, 2000
Last updated: April 4, 2001