*** U.S. boy scout uniforms: uniform chronologies

United States Boy Scouts: Uniform Chronologies

American Scout uniforms
Figure 1.--This Scout troop was sponsored by a Baptist church. The boys wear the standard knickers uniform. They were probably photographed in the mid-1920s. We know that it was at least 1922 because the boys wear the new style uniforms, but note that many boys seem to be wearing long stockings rather than kneesocks. This suggests about 1925 because by the late 1920s virtually all Scouts wore kneesocks. Click on the image for an enlargement.

The first American Scout uniforms were based on U.S. Army uniforms. There since have been only three major changes in the uniform (1922, 1943?, and 1981). For long periods boys have worn the same styles with only minimal changes. The uniforms have always been various changes of khaki, green, and tan. It is possible, however to date them with some degree of accuarcy by analizing the uniforms that the boys are wearing. We have compiled information on both Scout and Cub uniforms over time, beginning with the establishment of the American Boy Scouts in 1910.

Uniform Types

American Scouts have worn four different uniforms. A variety of minor changes were made in these uniforms annually, but there have been only four basic uniforms. The first American Scout uniforms were based on U.S. Army uniforms and included a rather long jacket with pockets rather than a shirt and knickers with a Smoket the Bear hat. American Scouts were the only ones to wear knickers rather than shorts. Many early Scouts did not wear kerchiefs. The second American Scout uniform was adopted in 1922 and had a shirt rather than a jacket. Kerchiefs were almost always worn with this uniform which continued to include knickers and the Smokey the Bear hat. Boys sometimes wore shorts rather than knickers at camps and jamborees. The third uniform was adopted in 1943? A new campaign cap was adopted and knickers were dropped. Boys could wear short or long pants. The fourth and current uniform was styled by Oscar de Lorent and adopted in 1981. The campaign cap was replaced woth a baseball cap. It was a two tone uniform with a light tan shirt and brown pants. Boys could wear both short or long pants. The knee socks were changed to athletic socks and were green with red tops.

Progression by Decade

Many old Scouting pictures are not dated. It is possible, however to roughly date them with some degree of accuarcy by analizing the uniforms that the boys are wearing. We are developing specific details on the evolution of U.S. Scout uniforms organized by decade. Scouting appeared shortly after the development of amateur snapshots let by the Kodak Browine (1900). And the boys as well as Scout leaders and the parents loved o take snapshots. Thus no other Scout movement in the worlkd is as well doumented by photography as the American Scouting. The only comparable photographic record is the Hitler Youth movement in the 1930s. Major changes occurred in he 1940s and 80s. As a result there is a huge photograohic record. Early images show a mix of uniformed and non-uniformed boys in the first few years. But very soon we see groups that are fully uniformed. This continued to be the case through the 1950s, but by the late-60s we begin to see a decline in the uniform standards with many bous just wearing the Cub or Scout shirt with jeans or other non-Scout garments, We see the same pattern in Europe, but to an even greater extent.


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Created: November 15, 1998
Last updated: 2:09 AM 1/26/2015