THE ERB / BOY SCOUTS CONNECTION
ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF
THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Van Nuys News ~ Aug. 28 - Sept. 7, 1923
Chapter I - The English Boy Scouts
It was during the winter of 1899-1900 that the Thirteenth Hussars, a division of the English army, under the command of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, and at that time actively engaged in the South African war, had taken quarters in a small town in South Africa, when it was surrounded by the opposing forces, and all communications cut off.
The future looked dark, indeed, for the brave fellows who thus far had served their country so well; every man in the town was called into the service, but of no avail. They were greatly outnumbered, and hope was at its lowest ebb, when Sir Baden-Powell conceived the idea of mustering the boys of the town into service, not as soldiers, but to do the work behind the firing line, thus enabling all available men to take active part in the defense.
This was done, with the result that the day was saved, and Sir Baden-Powell's eyes were opened to the fact that the average boy was capable of taking far greater responsibilities than had ever been believed, if only he were trusted, and that if their training were made to appeal to them, they learned very rapidly. As a result of these discoveries, he wrote a book entitled "Aids for Scouting," and upon his return to England, in 1903, he found that Miss Mason, head of a training school for teachers, had adopted this book as a text book for their instruction in observation and education as a step to character training.
In 1904 Sir Baden-Powell proposed a plan for scouting as an organized training for boys, as a means for enthusing them, and giving a wider scope and greater variety for their training for citizenship.
The movement grew, and in 1907 a trial cap was held for scout training at Brownsea Island. This wa the first Boy Scout camp in existence, and entirely an experiment, but its result so exceeded Sir Baden-Powell's expectations that he was prompted to go on with the idea. In 1908 the handbook, "Scouting for Boys," was published in six fortnightly parts, and before its completion, numerous troops were started in different parts of the United Kingdom.
Although it had only been anticipated that scouting would be taken as an additional attraction for their boys in the Boy Brigade and Church Lad Brigade, etc., many troops were started independent of any other organization, and the effect of scout training was shown to be so splendid that in 1910 it had reached such enormous proportions that Sir Baden-Powell felt it incumbent on him to leave the development of the Boy Scout idea, which had already grown into a national organization, known as the English Boy Scouts.
Chapter II - The Movement Reaches America
It was about the time that Sir Baden-Powell left the army and took over the development of the English Boy Scouts that Mr. W.D. Boyce of Chicago was traveling in Europe, and while searching for a certain location in the congested part of London, a boy , noticing his bewilderment, saluted and asked if he might be of service.
Mr. Boyce looked at him in some surprise, and this is what he saw. A boy of some fourteen years, wearing a uniform that resembled somewhat the uniform of the United States, a broad sort of a cowboy had, and around his neck what looked like a red bandana; the boy stood looking him squarely in the eye and Mr. Boyce, at a loss to understand, asked him what he meant.
"I asked," said the boy, "if I might be of service to you." "Well, you surely can," said Mr. Boyce, producing a card. "I'm looking for this address." The boy took the card, and then, taking one of Mr. Boyce's suit cases, said, "Right this way, Mister." Our American gentleman found some difficulty in keeping up with him for several blocks, and when, upon reaching his destination, he offered the boy a shilling, his offer was rejected with this remark, "Boy Scouts don't take pay for doing good turns, Mister."
This was nothing less than astounding to our practical American business man; indeed, he was becoming more mystified all of the time, so he started questioning the boy as to what he meant, and what was a Boy Scout.
At this the young Englishman exhibited great surprise that everyone on earth had not heard of Sir Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts, and after answering all of the questions which he could, he showed the American to Scout headquarters, where our friend became still more interested, and asked many questions, the result of which was that when he returned to America he brought with him a trunk full of Boy Scout literature; this he showed to his friends, telling them of his experiences, and how the Scout whose acquaintance he had made, was so much a man, full of resourcefulness and initiative, and yet a boy in the strongest sense of the word, and how it was due to the training of this wonderful scout program, and, of course, his friends being sensible, broad-minded people, they also became immensely interested.
They repeated the story; it spread from place to place, got into the newspapers, and people began to ask the question, "Why can't we have an organization of that type here in America, and so develop our boys, too?" and so on, within a few months, an organization called "The Boy Scouts of America" was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia.
Chapter III - The Boy Scouts of America
"If boys are to grow into sturdy, self-reliant, productive citizens they must have much outdoor life and get the training in personal initiative and resourcefulness, keenness of perception, and alertness of action, courage, cheerful obedience, and ability to command, self-control, ability to do team work, and the other many qualities that can be developed in healthy outdoor sport."
With the above thought in mind, congress granted a federal charter to the infant organization in response to a bill introduced in March , 1910, known as H. R. 24747. A conference was then called of representatives from 37 different organizations having a definite interest in boy life. Men of national reputation were invited to associate themselves with the new movement as members of the National Council, which, through an executive board, was given full power to direct the movement.
In the meantime the movement had attracted attention in all parts of the country, and numerous groups of boys had been organized using the English literature. In fact, the growth was so rapid that it immediately became necessary to open a national office.
Unfortunately, the enthusiasm of the general public in accepting the Scouting idea, led to the development of a number of movements unrelated to each other. Happily, however, all of these organizations were led to merge in and with the Boy Scouts of America, with the exception of the American Boy Scouts, which was incorporated on June 9, 1910, organized under the patronage of Mr. William Randolph Hearst. This organization was the occasion of considerable embarrassment, its name resembling so much the name of the original organization that many people confused the two, taking them for the same. It should be noted here that there was and is a very distinct difference, in that the American Boy Scouts were organized along military lines, given strictly military drill, and for military purposes.
The original organization, the Boy Scouts of America, on the other hand, was and is entirely non-militaristic. Its constitution and by-laws forbid involving the organization in any matter of political character. There neither was nor is any effort, or any possibility of making any effort to train the boy away from his own political home environment. The scout master has no more to do with politics or militarism than has the school teacher or Sunday school teacher. Its program is base on the effort to induce the boy to learn for himself rather than to be taught by others. It teaches resourcefulness and develops the power of initiative; also develops character, and trains for citizenship.
Although the American Boy Scouts subsequently changed its name to the United States Boy Scout, it finally became necessary, in 1917, after many years of the most patient effort in trying to secure amicable recognition of their rights, for the Boy Scouts of America to enter suit against the "United States Boy Scout," that the defendant, its officers and agents and each of them, be enjoined and restrained from using its name and otherwise the words 'Boy Scout,' or 'Boy Scouts,' or the words 'Scout,' 'Scouts,' or 'Scouting,' or any adaptation thereof.
This was necessary to protect the boyhood of America from exploitation at the hands of various groups who might, and, indeed did, use the word "Scout" for ends which did not involve for the boy the character development program which Sir Robert S. S. Baden-Powell had made basic in the word "Scout." The result of this hotly contested suit was that judgment was given the plaintiff protecting the Boy Scouts of America, and restraining the United States Boy Scout from continuing as such, and ruling was thus made that no organization should use the words "Scout," "Scouts," or "Scouting," or any adapt ion thereof, unless duly registered as part of the original organization, the Boy Scouts of America.
Chapter IV - The Movement Reaches the San Fernando Valley
The Boy Scout movement continued to grow, passing all bounds in the vast proportions towards which it soared, until there were few spots in America which were not actively covered by local councils, who hired men to give their entire time to the work of guiding the Scout work, and upholding its standards.
On the 31st of May, 1923, a body of men representing all parts of this valley gathered in the French room of the Black Cat Cafe in San Fernando for the purpose of effecting a new branch of the Boy Scouts of America, to be known as the San Fernando Valley Council, that our boys in this valley might have equal opportunity with the rest of America's growing boyhood to keep themselves "physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." The organization was completed, and has proven a success already. Being not unlike the national organization or other parts of it, it has already reached surprising proportions. For this we have to thank the "builders" of the valley, or in other words, the Kiwanis Clubs, who put the movement across, sponsored it, and even underwrote the financing of it.
From all indications, we have ahead of us a year of prosperity, not only in Scouting, but in every respect, and during that year our boys must be taken care of, and to insure their most rapid physical , mental and moral growth, we must finance our Boy Scout movement, and keep it going. We now have enrolled upwards of 250 Boy Scouts. Our aim is to triple this during the coming year. To do this will cost money. Is it worth it? Is your boy worth it? Is ten dollars too much to spend on the mental, moral, and physical development of anyone of the boys in our valley? Indeed, it is not!
Do you, Mr. Employer, realize what the Boy Scout movement is worth to you? If you do, it will not take many like you to support this council of Boy Scouts. Do you, Mr. Boy's Neighbor, appreciate its full value to you, or do you, Mr. Boy's Father? Twenty dollars of your money will make it possible to direct the surplus energies of both those boy of yours into real constructive efforts for one whole year. Within the next few days many of the men of the San Fernando valley will give not only of their money, but their valuable time, to raise this fund. If we do not hear from you, Mr. Citizen, someone of these men will call on you, to give you the opportunity to place some of your money in "Boy LIfe," the most splendid of investments. In order that their time might be conserved, bring in, or mail in your check to the treasurer of the council, Mr. F. J. Hendershot, at the Pacific Northwest Bank of San Fernando, and remember, this is not a donation, but an investment, of which one day you will be proud.
Chicago 1927: Charles Lindbergh and Boy Scouts
The Baden-Powells - 1933
Laying wreath at Tomb of the Unknowns - 1937
Part of a 1920s school scroll
Boy Scouts Help to Dig Graves
During 1918 Flu Epidemic
Roosevelt 1933 Visit
Boy Scouts of Canada
The ERB TARZAN CLUBS
.The tremendous popularity of the Tarzan stories, especially among the young readers, led to the formation of a number of Tarzan clubs. The first of these appeared in the fall of 1916. On November 21 Ed wrote to Bob Davis,"There is a very enthusiastic boy down in Virginia at Staunton who is forming a Tribe of Tarzan. He says Tarzan has made a man of him. If he writes you be good to him and encourage him. His name is Herman Newman."Ed was honored with membership card number one, dated 1916, and signed by Acting Chief Newman and Secretary Gilbert Wheat. Davis replied jokingly, "More strength to Herman Newman, Emperor of the Tribe of Tarzan . . ."
and added a hope that all the members would subscribe to All-Story for twenty years in advance. Ed, not amused, rated the project as worthwhile, noting that the boys were "in real earnest" and that their interest was undoubtedly shared by other young readers. He offered two reasons why All-Story should become the official organ of The Tribe of Tarzan: the obvious one was for circulation-building purposes, but more important was the opportunity to "accomplish something for the good of the boys. ..." Davis remained reluctant about sponsoring the group, but agreed to run an announcement which Ed had written:The boys of Staunton, Virginia, have organized the first Tribe of Tarzan. They would like to hear from boys in other cities and towns who are interested in forming tribes in their own jungles. The men of Staunton are helping the boys of Staunton. The latter have a Tribe Room where they hold their meetings; they have grass ropes, bows and arrows, hunting knives, and the author of Tarzan of the Apes is having medallions struck for them symbolic of Tarzan's diamond studded golden locket. Boys who are interested are invited to write to Herman Newman, Acting Chief of The First Tribe of Tarzan, 113 N. Jefferson street, Staunton, Va.The announcement appeared in the Heart to Heart Talks of All-Story on January 20, 1917. About it, Ed remarked:I rather imagine that Herman Newman, Esq. will be swamped by mail. I hope so. He has kept me busy for months; but when I think of Frank Baum I realize that I should not complain. He gets about a hundred and fifty letters a week from kids and answers them all long-hand. . . . all Los Angeles loves him....At a later date, Ed wrote to urge the Chicago Herald to promote the Tribe of Tarzan through a special department in the newspaper, but the Herald's response was negative. Through Ed's contacts with Joseph Bray, McClurg undertook to give the Tribe some publicity, and in their Bulletin of August-September 1918, in the section "Literary Items of Interest," a column was devoted to the organization, its founder, Herman Newman, now heading another Tribe in Covington, Virginia.
McClurg's Bulletin provided details of the rules that had been established for members of the Tribe of Tarzan. The purposes of the organization were idealistic — health, courage, and chivalry — and members were required to take an oath to be honest and truthful; to "think clean thoughts"; and to protect the weak. The bronze medal that members still wore about their necks "symbolized the studded locket that Tarzan wore." With the United States at war, it was noted that the Tribe at Covington had sold $28,000 worth of Liberty Bonds and was now "working in the Thrift Stamp Campaign and for the Red Cross."~ Adapted from Porges
In the early '30s Signal Oil launched a successful advertising campaign to promote the Tarzan radio show. Through their service stations they offered a blitz of Tarzan merchandise tie-ins and as the popularity of the show grew across America, they created the Signal Tarzan Club and sent out membership cards, buttons, photos and prizes to members. One of the membership requirements was to bring a new customer to a Signal filling station. Signal gas stations sponsored baseball teams formed by Tarzan Club members. Club members gained points for persuading customers to buy Signal gasoline products and they could redeem these points for prizes such as radios, rifles, cameras, movie projectors, bicycles, watches and sets of Tarzan books. The Club was wildly successful and within a year it boasted over 100,000 members and soon it grew almost too large to manage. See the Signal Oil/Tarzan Radio feature in ERBzine 0169
3. ERB'S TARZAN CLANS OF AMERICA
A few years before Signal's Tarzan Club tie-in, ERB had tried a similar Club -- THE TRIBE OF TARZAN -- to promote his Tarzan books. Fired up by the success of Signal's version new club, he immediately started planning to revive his original idea and in 1939 he formed the nation-wide, TARZAN CLANS OF AMERICA. ERB sent out circulars encouraging youngsters to join the Tarzan Clans of America. The circular named Johnny Weissmuller as Chief of Chiefs and C.R. Rothmund as Chief Scribe and it bore ERB's signature as the Founder. A membership application was enclosed, and a dollar would pay for a membership card, the Official Guide, a Burroughs novel, the initiation fee, and the yearly dues.
The booklet is featured at ERBzine 0032 and ERBzine 0033
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