1911 1st Printing 1911-1913 2nd-6th Printing 1912 Olive
1913 7th Printing 1912-1913 Hardbound 1914 8th Printing
Back 1913 7th Printing Typical Page

First Edition (1911-1914):

Cover Art: Gordon Grant
Author: Various Authors

The 400-page 1st Edition of the handbook, published in the summer of 1911, started a long custom of changing the color of the cover whenever the printing changed. Printings in this book took up without a pause with "Editions" in the next, starting with "11th Edition" in 1914.

It contained quite a bit of chop-down-a-tree camping advice in its 125 pages devoted to camping skills and life in the outdoors. For example, overnight campers were told to build lean-to's, using fresh-cut poles with branches of balsam or hemlock for thatching. They were then to cut more boughs to make a soft and fragrant ground bed, over which the camper would spread his poncho and blankets.

The first Handbook for Boys cost 25 cents and had numerous black-and-white photos and drawings. It contained 24 pages of advertisements, selling hiking shoes, carbide lamps for camping, a Boy Scout Union Suit (a one-piece, four-button, shoulder-to-thigh "new kind of underwear"), jackknives, bouillon cubes, shredded wheat, .22 rifles, and a variety of books and magazines (but not Boys' Life, which had just begun to publish and was not yet owned by the BSA).

The book's many sections were written by authorities on specific subjects. In a chapter on "Woodcraft," BSA Chief Scout Ernest Thompson Seton, noted naturalist and author, explained how to make fire by friction, find one's way in the woods, estimate heights and distances, and build a log cabin. Also covered were archery, astronomy for outdoorsmen, trees, and animals.

An official of the Young Men's Christian Association, which operated 400 summer camps at the time, wrote the chapter on high-impact campcraft. Experts from the Audubon Society and various government agencies contributed sections on birds, shells and shellfish, reptiles, insects, fish, geology, and plants.

The chapter on first aid and lifesaving was written by an Army Medical Corps doctor. It told how to take action in different emergencies, including stopping a runaway horse, killing a "mad" dog, dealing with leaking illuminating gas, and holding a carpet to catch jumpers from burning buildings. First aid advice included treatment for everything from shock, fractures, and severe bleeding, to chills, sunburn, and hiccups.

Swimming was not the popular sport it is today and was presented mainly as a necessary skill for lifesaving. Scouts were shown how to break the "death grip" of a panicky rescue victim and tow a "drowning swimmer" to shore.

Modern "rescue breathing" and "cardiopulmonary resuscitation" had not yet been developed. Instead, the victim was laid facedown on the ground, and the rescuer performed "artificial respiration" by straddling his body at the hips, putting pressure on the lower ribs to force water out of the lungs, and releasing it to let air in. Proper technique was assured by performing the procedure to the rhythm of "Out goes the bad air, in comes the good."

Quote: To make an open outing tent, get thirteen yards of 8 oz. duck canvas, which can be bought at any department store or dry goods store for seventeen or eighteen cents a yard. This makes your total expense $2.21 for your tent.