1960 Boy Scout Handbook

In honor of my son earning his Arrow of Light badge and crossing over into Boy Scouts tonight, I've posted below the first few pages of my dad's Boy Scout Handbook from 1960. We don't have my son's new handbook yet, but I'm guessing the content will be very much the same as this one from half a century ago. That's a good indication of a well-grounded organization. However, I'm also guessing the artwork has changed drastically, and not for the better.

 Click any image to enlarge.
The cover art here was provided by Norman Rockwell. This was one of four covers featuring his iconic artwork.  This cover, according to this site, was the only piece done by Rockwell specifically for the Boy Scouts, in honor of their 50 year anniversary.  The main scout was painted by Rockwell but the background images were added by someone else.  His art was featured on three other covers as well, but all three pieces were first published in his Brown & Bigelow Scout Calendar.
You can see every handbook cover throughout scouting history, and read a short description of them here.

Melton Wilson
Troop 60
Sheridan, Arkansas

They all look the same to me.

Here's what's left of the back cover.  U.S. Royal was a prominent advertiser on the back cover of many of the scout handbooks.

This is another of my dad's handbooks.  This one is from 1958.
For even larger images, see my Flickr set.


Brian A said...

This is fantastic, Aaron. What a treasure!! Just looking at all that artwork gave me a pretty big nostalgic pit in my stomach... in a good way. We had a Scouts illustration exhibit pass through town a few years ago and it features a couple of Rockwell's originals. This cover wasn't one of them but they were spectacular. It was such a privilege to get to stand so close to some of Rockwell's originals (I don't exactly live in an art mecca) and just pour over his handiwork.

Great post! Thanks for sharing... and Congratulations to your son on earning his badge.

Aaron said...

Thanks Brian - I'll pass along your congrats.

Bob lehcror said...

Wow that brings back some old memories!
Cool post

Doug Hibbard said...

It might please you to know that the newest Handbook, which I bought for nostalgia more than anything else, actually uses a lot of the older artwork!

Congratulations to your son, from one Eagle Scout to a future one!

Doug H

Doug Hibbard said...

Oh--one more thing: the newest one is available in a spiral-bound format.

As I have the worn-out, covers torn, nearly destroyed ones from my BSA days, that was a "Wow! Why didn't they think of that sooner?" moment for me!

And I have my Dad's. It's the 58, and I have his Fieldbook as well.

Ken said...

Great post. About six months ago we found a copy of this manual in an antique shop in Glendale, Arizona. It was torn and tattered, but it was too good to pass up. My 6 year old son (who is a Scout) absolutely loves it.

The text of this book is an amazing glimpse into the American psyche in Eisenhower-era America. It's so gingoistic it practically makes Ronald Reagan sound like a pinko commie, and that's all part of it's charm.

In addition, it's chock full of fantastic advice that any boy, then or now, can benefit from, with everything from trail marking to hygiene to citizenship.

Scouting has become somewhat of an anachronism, but I'm proud that my son is part of modern scouting, and thrilled that he's part of such a great heritage as the Scouting movement.