With the coming full integration of the Order into the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), it was decided by the OA National Executive Committee that an Order of the Arrow (OA) handbook was needed. The groundwork had been done in preparation, but it was all contained in letters, pamphlets, and notes from conversations.
The responsibility to edit the first OA Handbook was accepted by J. Rucker Newbery, National Lodge Treasurer, an adult position at the time. Newbery gathered all the materials available and edited them into a proof edition. The content of this proof edition handbook was essentially the Constitution and By-Laws pamphlet, the Local Lodge Manual pamphlet, the Indian Ritual Costumes pamphlet and the Selection of Candidates and the Ordeal pamphlet. Also included in the proof edition was the “Dramatization of the Legend of the Lenni Lenape” developed by Tomkita Chara Lodge of Wausau, Wisconsin; the song of the Order; articles by H. Lloyd Nelson and George Mozealous; and charts of growth.
Newbery then sent the proof edition to 97 people for their critique. The response was very positive. Newbery used the feedback to re-edit the book, add illustrations and photographs, and prepare the OA Handbook for printing. The goal of the National Executive Committee was to have the handbook printed in time for distribution at the 1948 National Meeting, the first meeting as a fully integrated BSA program.
The first OA Handbook is distinctive because the paperback cover has a simple design using the oversized letters “O” and “A” along with the words "Order" and "Arrow" along woth an Arrow. On the inside of the back page the printing code shows that 5,000 copies were printed in August 1948 however that number is in dispute. On the second printing the word "Handbook" appears along the top. A red hardbound edition was also published.