Leslie's Guiding History Site


Logbooks and Notebooks


Logbooks and Notebooks - our homemade records

From Guiding's earliest days, Leaders were encouraged to keep records.  Many Leaders kept notebooks with their unit programmes, and whenever they attended trainings they would take a notebook to record the activities they did, and the items they learned - games, songs, outdoor activities, Guide drill and more.  The records which they keep give us an insight into what they really did, really learned, really experienced in past decades - as compared to what the textbooks suggested.

In addition, at the UK Guide training centres, Foxlease and Waddow the trainees were split into Patrols on their first attendance, and on each further visit would be part of the same Patrol.  Each Patrol had an ongoing logbook, with each batch of trainees adding to the logbook, detailing their training weekend, what they did at it, filled in by the Patrol members.  As such, through these we can see, training weekend by training weekend, what they did and learned, and can also see who attended trainings and from where - from across the UK, and indeed, from across the world.  These logbooks are often also beautifully illustrated, with drawings in pen-and-ink or watercolour.

Training Centre Patrol Logbooks

At the training centres, the ongoing logbooks kept by each Patrol can make fascinating reading - as in this page, where a Patrol tried to image what changes in technology might bring to Guiding in the future.  It's always fascinating to see what both what they did and how they did it, the topics they covered and the way in which it was done, the ideas and attitudes which they had, and which were promoted within Guiding.  A significant number of these logbooks have survived, offering a wide range of insights.

Homemade Songbooks

In Guiding's early years, there were no songbooks.  It took time for songbooks to be published, and even then, the range of material was limited - it tended to focus on folk songs, often with many verses, so had to be memorised.  

As a result, many people compiled their own songbooks.  Often these were handwritten into hardback notebooks, but unfortunately these often are words-only - it is rare to find one which contains guitar chords, and rarer still to find one which has tunes.  

And yet - some examples exist of beautifully-illustrated songbooks, and it is fascinating to see the range of songs which appear - folk songs, children's songs, rounds, jingles, songs from a number of countries - some songs we still sing today, some which we might choose to avoid today for a range of reasons.  All part of our history.

We also sometimes see examples of original songs or parodies being written by individuals or Patrols, of songs learned from international visitors they met or particular campfires or trainings they attended - these can help us to trace 'how far back' some songs go, 'regional variations', 'mondegreens' and other fascinating titbits.  

Individuals' Training Log

Back in the day, trainings at training centres were usually a week long, with sessions on a number of topics, including badgework, drill, outdoor skills, songs, teaching skills to the girls - as well as specialist weeks on particular topics, or for particular branches.  The training centres sold books which trainees could buy to fill in, or people brought their own notebooks and added to them during the sessions.  Many of these notebooks still survive, or come up for sale, and they can give fascinating information on traditional skills, or activities (many of which could be equally applicable today),  

Unit Programme Notebooks

Many unit leaders kept a week-to-week record of their unit activities - the activities the girls did for their challenges, the games they played and songs they sang, the outings they went on, and in some cases, the local events they took part in.  Some records are very brief, with a few short headings, whereas others give instructions for games, words for songs, and in some cases also sketches or photographs.  

It's not uncommon to also find attendance registers, accounts records, notes taken at District Meetings or other local gatherings, shopping lists for the Guide Shop and other ephemera!

Hike Logbooks

In order to get her First Class Badge, at one time a candidate for First Class had to take two younger Guides on a 'First Class Hike', planning a route to take them on, arranging a suitable place to stop and cook a hike meal, during which the tester would visit.  And Patrols were encouraged to tackle day-hikes to places of interest, to study nature, or to explore a part of their locality which was unfamiliar.  They were encouraged to keep records of these hikes, and in time special notebooks were published to allow individuals or Patrols to keep records of their hikes.  These would include lined pages for noting the route and observations, squared paper for maps, blank pages for sketches or diagrams, or to allow for the later insertion of photographs, information leaflets or other useful items.  These Hike Logbooks can make fascinating reading, detailing countryside now lost to urbanisation, little-known routes - but also recounting the adventures which happened along the way, from dealing with incidents and accidents, inclement weather or tenderfoot mistakes!

First Class/Queen's Guide 'History of Guiding' logbooks

As part of their challenge, Guides were required to create a logbook on the history of Guiding.  Whilst these tended to wheel out the usual myths in terms of how Guiding started, and they often featured the same-old pictures cut from "The Guide" or "The Guider" magazine.  It can be interesting to see the way different Guides approached the clause.  

Some of these logbooks are quite brief, and seem to follow a very similar pattern.  But some do include sketches, or material on different sections of Guiding, or insights into different countries drawn from encounters with locals.