History Highlights #1: Behind the Book

by | May 5, 2016



Welcome to a new stream of LDS-BSA blogs, “History Highlights.” These posts will provide facts and photos from the history of Scouting in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In July 2013, the book Century of Honor: 100 Years of Scouting in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was published by the LDS-BSA Relationships Office. This 130-page history documents the story of Scouting in the Church during the past century and commemorates the incredible affiliation between the BSA and the Church.

Since its publication, nearly 5,000 copies of the book have been sold, with positive feedback from Scouters and Church members around the nation.

How did this inspiring history come to be compiled? Today our blog takes you, “Behind the book.”

In August of 2012, the Young Men general presidency–looking ahead to the Scouting centennial in the Church–requested that a history of Scouting in the Church be compiled. The LDS-BSA Relationships Office formed a committee to fulfill this request.

The following members were recruited to help with the effort:
Kevin Hunt, Scouting historian from Arizona. Brother Hunt had compiled his own history of Scouting through the years. His work provided a foundational outline for the beginning of the project.

Dale McClellan, former administrative assistant to the Young Men general presidency. Brother McClellan had wealth of knowledge about Scouting within the Church along with a plethora of documents, photos and personal experience to share.

Kathi Robertson, historian for the Great Salt Lake Council, had spent over 30 years assembling and collecting every LDS Scouting item she could find including manuals, pins, patches, awards, photos, etc. She was a walking museum of LDS Scouting. Her resources were amazing and very well organized.

Alex Stromberg, Church History Museum intern, was an Eagle Scout and had an incredible passion for Scouting. Alex was instrumental in writing and organizing the Scouting exhibit at the Church History Museum. He had a valuable collection of insightful quotes and research already completed for the Museum exhibit.

Christine Cox, Church History Library Manager of Public Affairs, had Church resources, including photos and documents, available. Throughout the process she organized information for the Intellectual Property department and helped facilitate publication permissions with them.

Stacie Lusk, Church History Museum intern, provided invaluable help with her sharp mind, willing heart, and keen intellect and proved a great asset to the committee during the final weeks of the assignment.

Corry Kanzenberg, National Scouting Museum curator, had the national BSA archives at her fingertips. Along with Steven Price, archivist, Corry became an incredible and quick resource whenever specific clarification and help from the BSA was needed.

Nettie Francis, writer and historian, worked as the project manager. She had recently completed another history book and brought ideas and experience to the table to combine all of the resources into a powerful project.

Mark Francis, LDS-BSA Relationships director, spear-headed the project, conducted meetings, and facilitated publishing with the Church.

The committee met every two or three weeks from October 2012 through April 2013. Meetings were scheduled for an hour at first, but then extended to two hours, and sometimes longer.

Conversations were intense, lively, and inspiring as the committee discussed important events, facts, and images which were necessary for the history. Corry and Kevin called in from Texas and Arizona, and the rest of the committee attended in person.

Sister Francis recalls, “Each meeting was a spiritual experience. After beginning with prayer, the discussions and ideas that each member brought to our meetings were priceless and invigorating. It was as if we were discussing a sacred topic–Scouting in the Church–and we had invisible beings in the room with us, directing our conversations and guiding our work. It was clear that each committee member had a unique and powerful role.”

Many miracles occurred during the compilation. One key question asked by committee members was, “How did the affiliation actually take place?” In other words, “What communication, meetings, and discussions happened in 1913 between the Church and the BSA?” Unfortunately, no original documents from 1913 could be located at the National Scouting Museum in Texas or at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. Committee members continued to search and pray for insight. Late one evening, while staying after work at the Church History Library, Sister Cox located a box of items from Elder Oscar Kirkham. Brother Kirkham had been a member of the Seventy and was very active in Scouting during his lifetime. Inside of the box were original documents, meeting notes, and letters from early 1913. These papers gave insight into the discussions that occurred between Church brethren and BSA leadership as they discussed affiliation. Thankfully, these items are now catalogued at the Church History Library and several were on display in 2013 at the Church History Museum.

By March 2013 the text for the book was nearly complete. Designer John Gibby was hired to begin layout, and editor Dan Hogan was hired for final edits. Still, committee members worked long hours looking at drafts and making final changes until the book was sent to the Church presses in May 2013. Final copies were printed and ready for distribution in late June 2013.

The preface to the book, written by the Young Men general presidency, states:

On May 21, 1913, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America. Since the beginnings of that dynamic partnership, millions of youth and adults have registered in LDS Church-sponsored Scouting units, and leaders of the two organizations have worked together to instill character, citizenship, and fitness in young men.

As the first nationally chartered organization, the LDS Church established a pattern for other religious and community groups to partner with the Boy Scouts of America, thus affecting additional youth and organizations throughout the following century. We present this book as part of the 2013 LDS-BSA Centennial Celebration. It is our sincere desire that readers will recog- nize the inspired decisions, leadership, and goodwill evident throughout the past “century of honor” between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America.

A Church News article introducing Century of Honor was published in August 2013. Read it here.

All those involved in the publication of Century of Honor agree that the work was inspired, and pray their efforts will continue to bless youth and leaders for many generations to come.

Watch for more History Highlights on future blog posts to learn exciting historical facts about Scouting in the Church.

~To order a copy of Century of Honor click here.