William D. Boyce (founder of the Boy Scouts of America)

Is your surname Boyce?

Research the Boyce family

William D. Boyce (founder of the Boy Scouts of America)'s Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


William Dickson "W. D." Boyce

Birthdate: (71)
Death: 1929 (71)
Immediate Family:

Son of David Boyce and Margaret Jane Boyce
Husband of Mary Jane Boyce
Father of Benjamin Stevens Boyce

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William D. Boyce (founder of the Boy Scouts of America)


William Dickson "W. D." Boyce (June 16, 1858 – June 11, 1929) was an American newspaper man, entrepreneur, magazine publisher, and explorer. He was the founder of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the short-lived Lone Scouts of America (LSA). Born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, he acquired a love for the outdoors early in his life. After working as a schoolteacher and a coal miner, Boyce attended Wooster Academy in Ohio before moving to the Midwest and Canada. An astute businessman, Boyce successfully established several newspapers, such as The Commercial in Winnipeg, Manitoba and the Lisbon Clipper in Lisbon, North Dakota. With his first wife, Mary Jane Beacom, he moved to Chicago to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions. There he established the Mutual Newspaper Publishing Company and the weekly Saturday Blade, which catered to a rural audience and was distributed by thousands of newspaper boys. With his novel employment of newsboys to boost newspaper sales, Boyce's namesake publishing company maintained a circulation of 500,000 copies per week by 1894. Boyce strongly supported worker rights, as demonstrated by his businesses' support of labor unions and his concern for his newsboys' well-being.

By the early years of the 20th century, Boyce had become a multi-millionaire and had taken a step back from his businesses to pursue his interests in civic affairs, devoting more time to traveling and participating in expeditions. In 1909, he embarked on a two-month trip to Europe and a large photographic expedition to Africa with photographer George R. Lawrence and cartoonist John T. McCutcheon. Over the next two decades, Boyce led expeditions to South America, Europe, and North Africa, where he visited the newly discovered tomb of King Tutankhamun.

Boyce learned about Scouting while passing through London during his first expedition to Africa in 1909. According to somewhat fictionalized legend, Boyce had become lost in the dense London fog, but was guided back to his destination by a young boy, who told him that he was merely doing his duty as a Boy Scout. Boyce then read printed material on Scouting, and on his return to the United States, he formed the BSA. From its start, Boyce focused the Scouting program on teaching self-reliance, citizenship, resourcefulness, patriotism, obedience, cheerfulness, courage, and courtesy in order "to make men". After clashing over the Scouting program with Chief Scout Executive James E. West, he left the BSA and founded the LSA in January 1915, which catered to rural boys who had limited opportunities to form a troop or a patrol. In June 1924, a merger was completed between the BSA and the struggling LSA. Boyce received many awards and memorials for his efforts in the U.S. Scouting movement, including the Silver Buffalo Award.

Personal life and Business enterprises






Legacy and Works


view all

William D. Boyce (founder of the Boy Scouts of America)'s Timeline

Age 26
Age 71