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“A Separate Path”: Scouting and Guiding in Interwar South Africa

  • Tammy M. Proctor (a1)
    • Published online: 01 July 2000

The Boy Scout and Girl Guide movements arose in the first decades of the twentieth century, an era of social and political unrest, and they were initially the center of intense controversy in Britain.Much has been written on the Baden-Powells and the Scout organization, but little has been done on either the Guides or on gender in either movement. Also, most works deal specifically with the first two decades of the movements, rather than with the interwar period. The major official histories of the Scouts and Guides include Henry Collis, Fred Hurll and Rex Hazlewood, B-P's Scouts: An Official History of the Boy Scouts Association (London: Collins, 1961); Rose Kerr, The Story of the Girl Guides (London: Girl Guides Association, 1954); and Alix Liddell, The Girl Guides, 1910–1970 (London: Frederick Muller, 1970). Robert Baden-Powell has been the subject of several biographies and the Chief Guide, Olave Baden-Powell, has written an autobiography that is quite useful. The best biography is the recent one by Tim Jeal, The Boy-Man: The Life of Lord Baden-Powell (New York: William Morrow, 1990). The analytical works on the movements are limited to work on the Scouts by Martin Dedman, “Baden-Powell, Militarism, and the ‘Invisible Contributors' to the Boy Scout Scheme, 1904–1920,” Twentieth Century British History 4:3 (1993), 201–23; John Gillis, Youth and History (New York: Academic Press, 1974); Robert H. MacDonald, Sons of the Empire: The Frontier and the Boy Scout Movement, 1890–1918 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993); Michael Rosenthal, The Character Factory (New York: Pantheon Press, 1986); John Springhall, Youth, Empire and Society (London: Croom Helm Ltd., 1977); Allen Warren, “Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the Scout Movement and Citizen Training in Britain, 1900–1920,” English Historical Review 101 (1986), 376–98; and Paul Wilkinson, “English Youth Movements, 1908–1930,” Journal of Contemporary History 4:2 (April 1969), 3–23. Allen Warren has written several insightful articles, including, “Mothers for the Empire,” in Making Imperial Mentalities, ed. J. A. Mangan (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990), 96–109; “Citizens of the Empire,” in Imperialism and Popular Culture, ed. John Mackenzie (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), 232–56; and “Popular Manliness: Baden-Powell, Scouting and the Development of Manly Character,” in Manliness and Morality: Middle-class Masculinity in Britain and America, 1800–1940, eds. J. A. Mangan and James Walvin (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987), 176–98. Good studies of working-class boys are: Michael J. Childs, Labour's Apprentices: Working-class Lads in Late Victorian and Edwardian England (London: Hambledon Press, 1992) and Harry Hendrick, Images of Youth: Age, Class and the Male Youth Problem, 1880–1920 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990). For the post-World War I period, see: David Fowler, The First Teenagers: The Lifestyle of Young Wage-Earners in Interwar Britain (London: Woburn Press, 1995). Two classic studies of middle-class girls are: Carol Dyhouse, Girls Growing Up in Late Victorian and Edwardian England (London: Routledge, 1981) and Deborah Gorham, The Victorian Girl and the Feminine Ideal (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1982). For works specifically dealing with American Scouting, see Jeffrey P. Hantover, “The Boy Scouts and the Validation of Masculinity,” Journal of Social Issues 34:1 (1978) and David I. Macleod, Building Character in the American Boy: The Boy Scouts, YMCA, and Their Forerunners, 1870–1920 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983). By the 1920s, however, they had become an established part of what came to be seen as the British “way of life.” The movements also began a sustained international expansion, winning acclaim from educators, government officials, social organizations, and even the League of Nations. Yet this extension of the Scout and Guide program into other countries produced problems both abroad and at home, as contradictions appeared in the ideologies and activities of the two groups. Practically speaking, they both faced difficulties in accommodating different races, religions, languages, and nations in the new global brother/sisterhood.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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