Boy Scout | Patrol Leader | Scoutmaster | Fieldbooks


Scoutmaster's Handbook

FIRST EDITION – 1914-1920 – “Handbook for Scout Masters” This book was published under the supervision of the Editorial Board Representing the National Council. The editorial board consisted of Frank Presbrey, George D. Pratt and William D. Murray. The cover shows a picture of a Scout holding a stave. Copies are either tan-colored hardbound or red leather. It contains many black-and-white photographs. Even though Baden-Powell recommended that drill not be part of Scouting, this edition has pages on military drill. All printings refer to the position as Scout Master. 

SECOND EDITION – 1920-1936 – Title changed from “Handbook for Scout Masters” to “Handbook for Scoutmasters”. Covers are all leather in different colors (black, green, maroon) and have gold lettering and a gold First Class badge. Author credit is again given to the editorial board with the change of membership from George D. Pratt to Dr. Henry Van Dyke. It was a thorough edition requiring very little updating in its 18 printings. 

THIRD EDITION – 1936-1947 – This edition was unique in being printed in two volumes. The covers are all tan hardbound. Both volumes have the same picture of a Scoutmaster holding a stave and wearing a red neckerchief. Volume 1 and volume 2 are indicated on the spine of the book. Primary authorship is given to William Hillcourt, while stating that such a book results from the efforts of many contributors. The two volumes were usually not printed at the same time. Volume one involves general administrative information, while volume 2 deals with program information.


FOURTH EDITION – 1947-1959 – All covers were blue and brown with a drawing of a Scoutmaster talking with a Scout. Each is wearing a red neckerchief and have on campaign hats in the first 6 printings and overseas caps in the remaining printings. Author is listed as William Hillcourt. Volume 2 of the previous edition has been changed to “The Scoutmaster’s Tool Chest”. Military drill is finally removed while introducing a minimum of formations and silent signals to arrange them.  

FIFTH EDITION – 1959-1972 – Title had changed to “Scoutmaster’s Handbook”. All covers are dark blue with Norman Rockwell’s painting of the “Scoutmaster”. Author again was William Hillcourt. This was a mild update of the fourth edition. One new tool was added on how to take over an old troop.  

SIXTH EDITION – 1972-1981 – Following the theme of this period, the cover was a two-tone light green/dark green, with only the title “Scoutmaster’s Handbook” and a small picture in the corner of a Scoutmaster talking with a Scout. This book has no photos, which have been replaced by cartoon-like drawings. Introducing the “Improved Scouting Program” the book contained politically correct terminology such as “progress awards”, “personal growth agreement conferences”, etc. The author is unknown.  

SEVENTH EDITION – 1981-1990 – Title is “The Official Scoutmaster Handbook”. Author is unknown. Cover is a full-color reproduction of Joseph Csatari’s  painting of a Scoutmaster teaching first aid to three Scouts. Contents have not changed much from the previous edition and simple line drawings have replaced the cartoons.  

EIGHTH EDITION – 1990-1998 – Title is “The Scoutmaster Handbook”. Cover shows a Scoutmaster helping his Scouts over a rock while hiking. Author is unknown. Contents inside contain full-color photographs throughout. This is the last bound copy of the Scoutmaster’s Handbook.  

NINTH EDITION – 1998-present – Title is “The Scoutmaster Handbook”. Cover is a photo collection of Scoutmasters and Scouts hiking. Author is unknown. It contains full-color photographs throughout. This is an unbound edition that is to be placed in a ring binder.

Click here for photo gallery.