Boy Scout Handbook

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Boy Scout Handbook
Boy Scout Handbook (12th edition 2009).png
Cover of the 12th edition
Author Boy Scouts of America
Country United States
Language English
Publication date
1910, 1st edition
2016, 13th edition
ISBN 978-0-8395-3102-9
OCLC 302189421
369.43 22
LC Class HS3313 .B69 2009

The Boy Scout Handbook is the official handbook of the Boy Scouts of America. It is a descendant of Baden-Powell's original handbook, Scouting for Boys, which has been the basis for Scout handbooks in many countries, with some variations to the text of the book depending on each country's codes and customs.

The original edition of the handbook was based on Baden-Powell's work. Ernest Thompson Seton combined his Woodcraft manual, the Birch Bark Rolls, with Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys. Subsequent works were done by other authors. William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt wrote the 6th, 7th, and 9th editions. Frederick L. Hines wrote the 8th, and Robert Birkby the 10th, 11th and 12th editions.[1]

1910 original edition Handbook[edit]

The first Official Handbook, subtitled A Handbook of Woodcraft, Scouting, and Life-craft was published from July 1910 until March 1911 and appeared in eight distinct variations. It was written by Ernest Seton and drew greatly on Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys, it included information on the organization of Scouting, signs and signaling, and camping, as well as Scouting games and a description of several Scouting honours. Notably, this book did not place emphasis on first aid, knife and axe use, or map and compass work, as later editions would. Because this edition was intended solely as a temporary guide until an authoritative handbook could be made, it is now known as the 1910 Original Edition Handbook. The cover art was an illustration by Baden-Powell. There were about 28,000 copies printed not 68,900 as previously thought.[1][1][2]

First edition[edit]

The Official Handbook for Boys was published in June 1911.[1] In this edition, the American Scouting program was standardized, albeit with many omissions and mistakes (cf. external links). As with the Original Edition, many now-standard Scouting skills were passed over, including knife and axe use and map and compass work.

The book describes many Scout-like virtues and qualifications. After a lengthy section on what a Scout should know, including chivalry, history, and national issues, it is noted that "in short, to be a good Scout is to be a well-developed, well-informed boy."[3]

Later editions[edit]

Dates and names of the various editions are:[1]

  • The Official Handbook for Boys/1st Edition A Handbook of Woodcraft, Scouting, and Life-craft (1910-1911)
  • Boy Scout Handbook/2nd Edition The Official Handbook for Boys (1914–27)
  • Boy Scout Handbook/Every Boy's Library (Boy Scouts of America Edition) Edition The Official Handbook for Boys (1914–27)
  • Boy Scout Handbook/3rd Edition Revised Handbook for Boys (1927–40)
  • Boy Scout Handbook/4th Edition Revised Handbook for Boys (1940–48)
  • Boy Scout Handbook/5th Edition Handbook for Boys (1948–59)
  • Boy Scout Handbook/6th Edition Boy Scout Handbook (1959–65)
  • Boy Scout Handbook/7th Edition Boy Scout Handbook (1965–72)
  • Boy Scout Handbook/8th Edition Scout Handbook (1972–79)
  • Boy Scout Handbook/9th Edition Official Boy Scout Handbook (1979–90)
  • Boy Scout Handbook/10th Edition Boy Scout Handbook (1990–98)
  • Boy Scout Handbook/11th Edition Boy Scout Handbook (1998-09)
    • Boy Scout Mini Handbook (#30511); an extract of the standard handbook for use as a temporary advancement record
  • Boy Scout Handbook/12th Edition Boy Scout Handbook (2009-16)[4]
  • Boy Scout Handbook/13th Edition Boy Scout Handbook (2016-present)[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e "BSA Handbook". Library Thing. Retrieved July 31, 2011. 
  2. ^ Scott, David C. (2006). "The Origins of BSA's 1910 Handbook". International Scouting Collectors Association Journal (ISCA Journal) 6 (4): 6–13. 
  3. ^ 95th Anniversary
  4. ^ "12th Edition Boy Scout Handbook". July 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-23. 
  5. ^ "New Boy Scout Handbook, other Boy Scout program tweaks due in 2016". January 3, 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-07. 

External links[edit]