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Our History

OA Handbooks

Profile - OA Handbooks

With the coming full integration of the Order of the Arrow (OA) into the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), it was decided by the National Executive Committee of the Order of the Arrow that a handbook was needed. The National Executive Committee wanted to make sure that all lodges would have the same information.

J. Rucker Newbery, National Lodge Treasurer, undertook the task. He 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. The “Dramatization of the Legend of the Lenni-Lenape” which was developed by Tomkita Chara Lodge of Wausau, Wisconsin was also included along with the song of the Order, articles by H. Lloyd Nelson and George Mozealous, and charts of growth rounded out this proof edition.

After edits of Newbery’s proof edition, the first edition of the OA Handbook was ready and distributed at the 1948 National Meeting. The first edition was reprinted later in 1948 in both soft cover and hard cover.

1950 brought a new handbook and its contents were similar. The following was the Table of Contents:

• Purpose and Principles
• Organization Pattern
• New Lodges
• Rules for Lodges
• Nominations and Elections
• The Ordeal Honor
• The Brotherhood Honor
• The Vigil Honor
• Indian Costumes
• Program
• Records
• Insignia, Literature and Supplies
• History
• Key to Pronunciation

A decade later in 1961, the handbook changed its content:

• History, Purpose, and Principles
• Relationship to Scouting
• Membership
• Organization
• Communication
• Training Opportunities
• Program
• Ceremonies
• Future Service for Arrowmen
• Insignia, Literature, and Indian Costumes
• English-Lenni Lenape guide

In 1973, the contents of the book were presented in a more creative way:

Part I. Firm Bound In Brotherhood

o Chapter 1. Purpose and Principles
o Chapter 2. Ties of Brotherhood

Part II. Gather the Clan

o Chapter 3. Lodge Administration
o Chapter 4. Reference Information

1989 brought a new handbook. Changes in presentation were made and new materials added:

Part I – Guide for Members

o Purpose and Principles
o Ties of Brotherhood
o You, Your Lodge, and Scouting

Part II – Guide For Officers And Advisers

o Lodge Administration
o Structure, Program and Awards

The basic content of the OA Handbook has not changed since the 1989 revision.

In fact, it would be fair to say that the content of the book in 1948 and the content of the book in 2010 are very similar. The purpose of the book has not changed. The OA Handbook was and is designed to give a member of the Order of the Arrow all the information needed to participate knowledgeably in the Order.

Special edition handbooks were issued in 1965 for the 50th Anniversary of the Order of the Arrow, 1975 for the 60th Anniversary and 1990 for the 75th Anniversary.

Each of these handbooks had distinctive covers and the 1990 edition was published with a leather cover and binding.