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  • Local Council History Books

    I recently came across a well-researched history of the Four Lakes Council (The First 90 years: 1912-2002). And it got me thinking about other councils and whether or not similar books existed in other parts of the country. As a Scout I lived in Georgia and Louisiana and, thus, experiencing Scouting in the Atlanta Area Council and the New Orleans Area Council, which as been the Southeast Louisiana Council.

    The Four Lakes Council merged with the Sinissippi Council in 2006, I think, and both became the Glacier's Edge Council. But it is certainly fun and intersting to read about and see photos of the early days of the council where I am currently a Scouter.

    So do your councils have history committees or anything in place to write, produce and publish history books?

  • #2
    There are quite a few council histories, and a few regional ones out there, some well done, and others not, but still interesting on a local level. Would have to do a lot of digging to find them all. A new one is just out for the Dallas area written by one of the current National level historians, David Scott. He has posted info on it on FB.

    In our council, I am the pseudo historian, but have few others really involved with it, though they like me to bring historical stuff to annual meetings and Eagle banquets. We do not have much in the council archives directly, other than patches and past presidents, though if I had the time, I might find more in old files sitting in the attic. There is a small group of old scrap books and so on up there that I need to get permission to go through, but would need help to do it right. For many, the historical elements of the program, local or National, is of little interest. I would like to see the Scouting Heritage MB add a local history requirement that had some real meat to it. Of course, I also would like to see something similar for Indian Lore, requiring a scout to learn a minimal level about a truly local tribe or tribes. In our area for example, the Chumash.


    • #3
      Not a history of the council, but of the OA lodge.

      Marty did an OUTSTANDING job on the history of the lodge. He is also involved with national OA too.


      • #4
        Sadly, mine (Central Florida Council) doesn't. However, that may be my next project. My book on professional Scouters in the early days, Men of Schiff, will be out by the first of the year, so maybe I will take that on, if I can convince the council folks to back me. Also, sadly, I have waited until many of the people who could have really told me the story have passed away.

        Central Florida didn't have a council until relatively late, but it has an interesting history and, because of the location, many early Scouters visited or had summer homes here. E. Urner Goodman used to visit.

        I had the good fortune to find many council history books for sale on the Internet. Not all are still in print and most are pretty old. I'm glad to hear David is doing Circle Ten.


        • #5
          There is a web sited devoted to Scout history research:

          It includes extensive bibliographies, including this one, which lists many local council histories:


          • #6
            Thanks, Info Scouter! This is a great resource you've shared with us. Your names says it all!


            • #7
              Our council did one of these a while back. The guys did a nice job. My impression, however, was it was a financial turkey. Maybe they covered all their costs on it, but I know there were PILES of them around the scout shop for several years. Seems like they were down to like five bucks each. SPECIAL! Council history book FREE with any purchase! Take one! PLEASE!

              Seriously, no one really gives a crap about the history. They want to see their picture in the book. If you want people to buy the books, give units the opportunity to submit a history of their unit. Sell the unit hisory pages like ad.


              • #8
                Thanks for that list, infoscouter! Sadly, most of them are not available at all and if you do find one, the prices are very high these days. It would be really nice if the National Scouting Museum had these in its archives. I have dealt with them frequently over the past couple of years and don't believe they have many, if any. I probably will donate the ones I have collected, but only when I'm sure I don't need more information out of them.

                Twocubdad has a point. The number of people who care about history of any kind are few and far between. Scouting history even more so. Still, guys like David Scott manage to sell books in some numbers. So, maybe there is still hope.


                • #9
                  I currently have a copy checked out from the library:



                  • #10
                    "Honor Bright" certainly looks like an attractive book with lots of color photographs. I'll to find that one.

                    TwoCub, I realize that not everyone is going to care about the history of the council and a history book needn't be as elaborate at the above-mentioned one. However, keeping a record of a council's history, including photographs, is important. I agree that Troops, too, should keep a good record of their own, indiviudal histories. Our Troop has been around since 1925 and, unfortunately, there isn't much left in terms of historical data that I can find.

                    In today's world of self-publishing, it can be as easy as writing the book and using an on-line, publish-on-demand service. There's no need to have stacks and stacks of unsold books at the Scout Shop.

                    This has all got me eager to do more research of my Troop and perhaps writing the books myself...


                    • #11
                      Of all the council histories I've read, which is a lot, I recommend Fun and Service: A History of the Boy Scouts of America in the Miami Valley Council (Dayton, OH). If you can find it. It was illustrated by Eagle Scout Milt Caniff, who used to do Steve Canyon and Terry and the Pirates comic strips.


                      • #12
                        Circle Ten Council in Dallas, Texas formed a Centennial book committe and authorized its centennial history book due in January 2013. It's a massive undertaking of about 400 pages, 90,000 words, and over 500 images.

                        David C. Scott


                        • #13
                          I'm looking forward to it, David. I have become very fond of council histories, and your writing. I'd like to spearhead an effort to collect information for Central Florida, but I'm afraid all the historians are long dead and I'm not sure the level of interest at council is really there.

                          Did you guys use council resources to get people to supply photos and information? There is very little in the way of archives anywhere here.


                          • #14

                            There were no Council records except for a document in 1914, one each in 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927 and 1928. So, I had to find the information to build the history and did so in the only other way possible...the Dallas Morning News archive. Your answer is to scour the local news archive and you'll get what you need.

                            Copies of "Where Character is Caught" will be available at the Circle Ten Council hq ( for $25 in softcover and ask for Wendy Kurten).The Scout Executive had no intention of making this a fundraiser. He wanted it to promote the glorious history of the Council and show how it grew along with the Dallas/North Texas area for the past century. That's why it took over a 15 months to produce.

                            It is an 8.5 x 11 profile, about 400 pages, full color throughout, 17 chapters with 90,000 words with special sidebar stories, 7 appendices, fully sourced with endnotes, and now over 600 images professionally restored and edited by commerical Dallas photographer, John K. Shipes.

                            As far as we can tell, there is no other Council history book comparable...just BSA's Official history book produced in 2010.


                            David C. Scott


                            • #15
                              Thanks for your input, David. When I said council resources, I really meant getting input from people in the community. I know most councils have little in the way of archives. I have found some councils have had success in getting old photos and stories from families in and out of Scouting.