Boy Scout Eras of Council Shoulder Insignia by Gene Berman

With permission I have this terrific outline of what Scouts have worn on their shoulder as council insignia originally posted on the Internet by Gene Berman.


The best primer around is the “Aid to Collecting…” CSP guide which now also has a complete section by Blake Keasey and others on Red and Whites. By going to the ISCA website, you can get information on how to purchase said guide.


Scouting is probably best divided into 4 eras for purposes of this discussion.


Era #1- From 1910 to around circa 1930 uniforms just had the numeral of the troop a scout belonged to. As Scouting grew it became confusing as each town probably had their own Troop 1 and Troop 2 etc.


Era #2- So around 1928 community strips were introduced to be used by each town so now the Scout in era #2 wore his community strip. above his number, for example, Glendale, and Troop number below it. In some cases Council strips were made to be worn primarily by Professionals or volunteers whose job served the whole council. In this era the strip color matched the uniform so in our theoretical, Glendale, one could find 6 strips by the mid 1940’s- khaki and red for scouts, blue and yellow for cubs, explorer green and brown for the explorers, navy with white letters and white with navy letters for summer and winter sea scout uniforms and post office blue with royal blue letters for air scouts. In 1941, NYC introduced the first full strips which on one piece had two lines and said, for example, New York City on top and the borough, say Queens on the bottom. Era #2 ends circa 1953, although for most councils the transition was based on depleting the stock inventory on hand.


Era #3- Scouting had become so popular by the early 1950’s and the inventory that had to be kept up with demanded so much room that National decided that all divisions would wear red with white letter strips. The first ones were introduced in 1953.


Era #4- This current era is the era of the CSP- Council Shoulder patch. Some councils had made special shoulder patches prior to 1970 but 1970 is regarded as the official “change over year” where red and whites were to be phased out and the CSP would be phased in. A letter was sent to all councils with those instructions and approved shapes to choose from (National Samples). National Supply had decided CSP for a council was easier to manage than several hundred community strips. Most councils simply exhausted their supply of red and white strips and then switched to a CSP. Some early “go-getters” such as Lebanon, Aheka jumped on the bandwagon right away and issued CSPs. Other councils continued with their red and white strips. The last council to “give it up” was Greenwich Council Connecticut which finally capitulated circa 1986.


Hopes this helps.


From the sunny Big Apple,


Gene Berman




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