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Boy Scouts of America (1910-1922): Topics in Chronicling America

The early 20th century saw the rise of various boy movements leading to the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. This guide provides access to material related to the “Boy Scouts of America” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Sketch of a Boy Scout. March 22, 1917. The Review (High Point, NC), Supplement, Image 11. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Based on Robert Baden-Powell’s international scouting movement, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was a remarkable institution that expanded rapidly following its introduction into America in 1910. Primary goals of the American movement were to help boys develop the skills, the knowledge, and the “character” required to better serve themselves and their country. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


Early 1900s Boy movements such as Ernest Thompson Seton's Indians and Dan Beards's The Sons of Daniel Boone emerge in the United States.
1907-1908 Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Baden-Powell starts the Boy Scout movement in the United Kingdom and publishes an English handbook called "Scouting for Boys" which attracts attention in the United States.
February 8, 1910 After meeting Sir Robert Baden-Powell, W. D. Boyce incorporates an organization of the Boy Scouts of America under the laws of the District of Columbia.
1910 C. L. Gilman writes articles throughout various American newspaper publications advertising enrollment in Boy Scouts of the United States.
October 13, 1910 Boy Scouts of the United States and the Boy Scouts of America merge into one organization, centralize headquarters to New York, and take over the work of six other boy movements. C. L. Gilman moves to the new headquarters as "one of the first acts of the new organization was to sanction the series of articles on scouting for the boys which was being published by the newspapers."
1911 Former President Theodore Roosevelt, "Colonel Roosevelt" is honorary Vice President of the Boy Scouts of America and writes an article on citizenship for the new scout manual.
June 19, 1916 President Wilson signs bill incorporating the Boy Scouts of America, "protecting the movement from exploitation and unauthorized use of the name and emblems."
June 1917 Boy Scouts contribute to war effort.
April 1918 Boy Scouts promote sale of war bonds.
March 24, 1919 Annual Conference for Boy Scouts of America awards meritorious work merit badges to 30,160 scouts and 4 gold medals to parents of scouts who forfeited their lives in efforts to save others. Boy scouts obtain 1,856,906 Liberty loan subscriptions totaling $276,095,000.
February 1922 Twelfth Scout anniversary lists over 400,000 registered Scouts in U.S.