Today's boys, tomorrow's men' : a short history of the Boys' Brigade of Britain, with further reference to the Boys' Brigade in South Africa (circa 1880s-1980s)

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study examines the origins of the Boys' Brigade Christian Youth Movement and its historical development in British society, with further consideration of the work of the Boys' Brigade in South Africa, from the 1880s until the 1980s. This movement, which originated in an environment of Liberal Nonconformity, 'muscular' Christianity, and adolescent-centred educational and social outreach, was linked initially to the needs of the Sunday School movement in urban Scotland. From its evangelical and Volunteer base, the Brigade expanded into an international interdenominational youth organisation, establishing specific roots in South Africa. The present study pays attention to the composition, philosophy, •and objectives of the B.B. movement, and considers its military-inspired disciplinary and recreational programme in terms of social need, Christian mission, and social control. It also considers the evolution of the B.B. identity through changing historical contexts. The historical link between the B.B. and other youth movements is also noted, and particular attention is paid to the contentious issue of the Brigade's relationship with militarism. While the history of the B.B. over this period is ultimately one of declining influence, its enduring presence illuminates the continuity of conservative forms of church-based youth organisation.

Includes bibliographical references.