BSA Celebrates 50 Years with the Sixth Edition of the Handbook

BSA Celebrates 50 Years with the Sixth Edition of the Handbook

The Boy Scouts of America had been going strong for 50 years when the sixth version of the Boy Scout Handbook was released, and the program was gaining speed! In the years of the handbook’s sixth edition, Scouts flocked to the fifth National Scout Jamboree in Colorado Springs, the eleventh World Scout Jamboree in Greece, and America’s youth were introduced to BSA’s modern Exploring program. 

The BSA celebrated its fiftieth birthday in a colorful way. To commemorate five decades of Scouting, the first multicolored handbook was released. Scouts could get the content’s full effect in vivid colors rather than the black and white (or green and white) print of previous handbooks.

The sixth edition was also the first handbook to be written by only one person—William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt.  Hillcourt was an influential leader of the American Scouting movement, and had previously authored the Handbook for Scoutmasters and the Handbook for Patrol Leaders.

At a Glance: Sixth Edition, The Boy Scout Handbook

  • In Publication: 1959-1965
  • Cover artwork: Norman Rockwell
  • Author: William Hillcourt
  • Copies: 3,875,000
  • Trivia: The first seven printings of this handbook had an amusing error on the cover: the Scout’s belt is on backwards!

Follow BSA’s official Instagram feed each week as we chronicle past editions of the Boy Scout Handbook, leading up to the 13th edition. We’ll also feature Scouting gear of the past, courtesy of the National Scouting Museum. If you missed last week’s Scouting history lesson, you can catch up here.

Have you seen the colorful images in the sixth edition of the Boy Scout Handbook? Tell us what you think in the comments.

For more information on the history of the Boy Scout Handbook, check out the outstanding work done by Troop 97 in Fort Collins, CO, which is a member of the Longs Peak Council.

Rochelle Randles

Rochelle Randles is a communications specialist at the Boy Scouts of America. She enjoys sharing incredible adventure stories within the Scouting community and beyond. If you have story ideas or questions, reach out to us at communications@scouting.org.

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BSA Celebrates 50 Years with the Sixth Edition of the Handbook
BSA Celebrates 50 Years with the Sixth Edition of the Handbook
BSA Celebrates 50 Years with the Sixth Edition of the Handbook
BSA Celebrates 50 Years with the Sixth Edition of the Handbook