Scout Photo Detective Challenge – Analysis 1

Thursday, 12 Aug 2010 | by Mark Tucker

The other day I posted a series of clues about the following Scout photo:


From the original post we are dealing with a photo from the BSA site that is listed as being from the 1910s with a title of Defending Liberty.

Clue #1 – For Defense


John J. Tierney did some investigating and he thinks that the Minuteman image is from the WWII bonds and not WWI:

At first look I would have guessed this is a 1910s photo as well – but when searching for that particular Minuteman image and the savings stamps associated with it, the only references I am finding are from a 1941 (and subsequent years) WWII savings stamp program.

See this postal museum presentation for several slides beginning at page 32. The beginning of the presentation shows WWI era stamp programs, but those appear to have used Founding Fathers as the images.

Also look about 3/4 of the way down this page for some more info – including a statement that in “May, 1941 the America on Guard series appeared…”


Here is a link that I found about Boy Scouts selling defense savings stamps in 1941 with the Minuteman logo:


Also note their uniforms compared to the one below.

The United States was involved in World War I from 1917-1918 and in World War II from 1941-1945.  The Wikipedia page for War bond shows some examples of WWI bonds as well as a video of Franklin D. Roosevelt introducing the Series E Bond which looks like the design the boys are holding in our original photo. Interestingly the first Series E Bond was sold on May 1, 1941 as a “defense bond” but the name was later changed to “war bond”.   There were 8 different war loan “drives” from 30 Nov 1942 to 8 Dec 1945, although Series E bonds continued to be sold until June 1980.

I wonder if the wording “For Defense” limits the time frame of our photo to May 1, 1941 – November 30, 1942.

So quite unintentionally we discover that this photo from the 1910s is really from the 1940s. 

Clue #2 – Scout Uniform


Using A Guide to dating and identifying Boy Scouts of America Badges, Uniforms & Insignia by Mitch Reis we can learn the following about the Scout’s uniform:

1. The tan long sleeve shirt issued from 1910 to 1918 had no pocket strip and the shirt from 1918-1920 had a 2 line “Boy Scouts of America” pocket strip. The uniform color changed to khaki starting in 1946.

The uniform in the photo has a 1 line pocket strip which has been the design from 1920 to the present:


2. The boy in the photo is wearing Scout breeches that had lace on the leg below the knee:


Breeches were issued from 1910-1946.  The olive drab stockings worn over the breeches were issued from 1910-1944.

3. Most Scouts are wearing what would be considered low crown hats:


As compared to the boy who is wearing the high crown hat:


High crown, wide brim felt campaign hats were available from 1910-1920 whereas the low crown hats are from 1921 to the present.

4. Metal rank or office badges were worn on hats from 1917-1946.  From this photo we see that there are the following ranks: 4 Tenderfoot, 2 Second Class, and 1 First Class.

5. On 4 of the uniforms on the left shoulder we can see an arch with letters on it.  This could be either a community strip (red on tan, 1929-1945) or a council shoulder insignia (red on tan, 1930-1945).

So just from the uniforms the photo dates from 1930-1944.

In the next part, we will continue our analysis and see why some people think this photo was taken in New London, CT.


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  2. [...] we continue our analysis (see part 1) of this photo from the Boy Scouts of [...]

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  4. Hello,
    I have a photo marked “Cromford 1909″, see
    I study this area, and am hoping to get some names for any of the boys or the scoutmaster, which I can then track down. Meantime, have been researching scouting and uniforms, and realise this is a perhaps the first year of scouting at Cromford (Derbyshire, England).
    The 1909 hats appear low crown but not pinched.
    Hope this is of interest

    Comment by John Palmer — 30 Nov 2010 @ 6:47 am

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