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A Brief Background of the Scoutmaster Handbook (BSA)

3rd Edition—Handbook for Scoutmasters (1936-1947)

Covers are all tan hardbound, with a black & white drawing of a Scoutmaster carrying a stave. The only color is his red neckerchief. This book was the only two-volume Scoutmaster Handbook until 2015. Interestingly, volumes 1 and 2 were never printed at the same time. Indeed, there were only 11 printings of volume 2, while during the same period there were 13 printings of volume 1. This book is even more extensive and thorough than the 2nd Edition, and each chapter is called a chat. The "Presentation Note" near the front of each volume give primary author credit to William Hillcourt, while noting that such a book results from the efforts of many. The book contains many black-and-white photos.
3rd Edition cover

3rd Edition Summary and Printing History

Actual 3rd Edition Table of Contents

Volume I

Volume II

4th Edition—Handbook for Scoutmasters (1947-1959)

All covers were dark brown and blue with a drawing of a Scoutmaster talking with a Scout (wearing red neckerchiefs). Both were wearing campaign hats in the first 6 printings, and overseas caps in the final 5 printings. Both drawings were done by BSA art director Don Ross, who also painted the covers for the 1948 Scout Handbook and the Cub Scout Handbooks of the period. Author again was William Hillcourt. The book is back to a single volume, and the 3rd Edition's volume 2 has been converted to "The Scoutmaster's Tool Chest", a 150-page section with 20 "tools" to help the Scoutmaster. The tool entitled "Scout Drill" at last does away with military drill, and introduces a minimum of formations and silent signals to arrange them. The book contains many black-and-white photos.
4th Edition, first 6 printings 4th Edition, last 5 printings

4th Edition Summary and Printing History

Actual 4th Edition Table of Contents


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