United States Boy Scout Chronology: The 1950s

Figure 1.--American Boy Scouts mostly wore long pants in the 1950s. They usually wore the short pants uniform at camps and jamborees. This photograph was taken in 1953. The Scouts are on their way to the National Jamboree, note the circular jamboree patch.

The Boy Scouts reached their peak of poularity in the 1950s. It was an era of rising prosperity and the movement into the suburbs. It was an era in whivj youth activitoes were grwing, but still imited. Scouring did not have a lot of competitin. One exception was Little League, but many boys did both. Many boys wanted to participate. Both schools and churches as well as other groups sponsored units. Wearing uniforms was still popular with biy, esprciallay Cub age boys. BSA membership grew dramatically 2.8 million (1950) to 5.2 million boy (1860). The 40th anniversary celebrated the theme of 'Strengthen the Arm of Liberty'. As part of the theme, the BSA distributed over 200 replicas of the Statue of Liberty. The 8-foot-4-inch (2.54 m) copper statues were known as the "Little Sisters of Liberty". A commemorative BSA stamp was issued by the Post Office (1950). The Pinewood Derby was organized experimetally for Cubs (1953) and was so sucessful that it was made a permanent part of the official program (1955). The Webelos den program was initiatd for 10 year olds (1954). The BS introduced a Webelos den emblem which was used on the Webelos den flag. It replacedg the den number on the uniform. The National Council moved their offices from New York City to the southwest corner of U.S. Route 1 and U.S. Route 130 in North Brunswick, New Jersey (1954). Scouts and Scouters who participated in an approved international activity or event were allowed to wear the World Crest as a permanent award (1956). Local councils were allowed to present the crest (1957). The BS approved the Bobcat pin for the uniform (1959). The BSA adopted the Boy Scout Handbook's dimensions increased to their present size and it was printed in full color for the first time (1959). Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts lowered their age limits, and Exploring was extensively modified to include vocational exploration. The BSA began the trdition of National Janorees every 4 year. The Third Nationals Jamoree was held in Santa Ana/Irvine California (1953). The Fourth National Jamboree was held in Vally Forge , Pennsylvania (1957). \


American boys clothing changed significantly during the 1940s. The 1950 were mostly a continuation of the trends that emerged after World War II (1941-45). Knickers had disappeared. Most boys wanted to wear long pants, particularly jeans. Some mothers insisted on short pants for dressup, but it was becoming less and less common. Some younger boys wore shorts for play during the summer, but most boys played and especially went to school in long pants. The BSA made major uniform changes in the 1940s. And thee carred over into thw 1950s. This carried over into Scouting and most American Scouts and especially Cubs wore the long pants uniform. This was not universal, however, and there were some troops that did wear the short pants uniform.


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Created: November 15, 1998
Last updated: 9:55 PM 5/1/2015