It took the BSA almost two decades to release a handbook for patrol leaders. And there have been two periods since then (20 years total) when there was no Patrol Leader Handbook, the BSA instead offering a much more general troop leadership guide. The covers of all youth leadership books are shown below, including all Patrol Leader Handbooks, the two troop leadership books, and the recent Senior Patrol Leader Handbook.
Handbook for Patrol Leaders, First Edition, printings 1-4, 1929-35 (left)
Handbook for Patrol Leaders, First Edition, printings 5-18, 1935-50 (middle)
Handbook for Patrol Leaders, First Edition, printings 19-34 (somewhat revised), 1950-67 (right)
Patrol and Troop Leadership, 1972-80
There was no handbook specifically for patrol leaders during this period, only this much more general leadership book with limited information on how to run a good patrol.
The Patrol Leader Handbook, 2002/2017/2019 Editions, 2002-present (above)
The Senior Patrol Leader Handbook, 2002/2017/2019 Editions, 2002-present (below)
[BSA ceased labeling Handbook editions after 1990 (except for the Boy Scout Handbook). These would count as the PLHB 4th Edition and the SPLHB 1st Edition. The cover changes included minor content updates, but probably not enough to be considered a truly new edition.]
The 2017 editions use the same cover background as the 13th Edition of the Scout Handbook. The 2018/19 editions switch to the plain background w/ logo that BSA is using for all its current handbooks. The 2019 PLHB has a green background with lettering, large patrol leader emblem, & two corners in tan. The 2019 SPLHB has a tan background with lettering, large senior patrol leader emblem, & two corners in green.
These books are spiral-bound, which lets them be conveniently folded flat and avoids the problem of pages falling out of a well-used book. The Senior Patrol Leader Handbook is the first leadership manual specifically for the SPL.
Last Revision to This Page: 7 January 2020
Text copyright © 2001-20 by Troop 97 BSA
Handbook pictures copyright © by Boy Scouts of America