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A Brief Background of the Patrol Leader Handbook (BSA)
(and other BSA Junior Leader Handbooks)

This is a brief summary and comparison of each edition of the Patrol Leader Handbook, also including the two more general troop leadership books that were offered in place of a Patrol Leader Handbook for 20 years, and including the recent Senior Patrol Leader Handbook. It took the BSA almost 20 years from their founding even to put out a Patrol Leader Handbook. This happened only after William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt convinced Chief Scout Executive James West to allow him to write one, which was published in 1929. The BSA has been consistently sloppy about identifying editions and printings. The only edition officially identified was the 3rd in 1980. It appears that the BSA does not consider their Patrol and Troop Leadership and Junior Leader Handbook publications as patrol leader handbooks. Even the new 2002 Edition of the Patrol Leader Handbook is not identified in any way.

1st Edition—Handbook for Patrol Leaders (1929-1967)

Cover for the first 18 printings showed a patrol leader sitting by a campfire in front of his tent dreaming of driving a covered wagon, going on an African safari, or driving a dogsled in the Arctic. The revised 1950 printing changed to a color drawing of a patrol leader carrying his patrol flag and beckoning to his patrol. Written by William Hillcourt, and filled with black-and-white line drawings, this book was received with great enthusiasm. It was somewhat revised in 1950, but BSA did not label this a new edition.
1st Edition, printings 1-4 1st Edition, printings 5-18 1st Edition, printings 19-34

1st Edition Summary and Printing History

Actual 1st Edition Table of Contents

Contents of First 18 printings:

Contents of Revised Edition:


Last Revision to This Page: 9 January 2021
Text copyright © 2006 by Jeff Snowden
Web format © 2006-21 by Troop 97 BSA
Handbook pictures copyright © by Boy Scouts of America