August 1, 1907. Robert Baden-Powell begins a camping and activity week for young boys on Brownsea Island off the south coast of England, thus launching the Scout movement. Baden-Powell was an officer in the British army and was recognised for his service in the Anglo-Boer war and in particular the siege of Mafeking. There he noticed the way in which young cadets worked with the troops, acting as messengers. He wanted to develop the idea of a youth organisation in Britain which would develop skills including woodcraft, observation, camping and first aid. Baden-Powell had already written books on military scouting and used the Brownsea Island event to try out his ideas for non-military scouting. The organisation grew international over the decades and today there are around 41 million boy and girl scouts across the world.
Also on August 1: Slavery abolished in the British Empire (1834); Germany declares war on Russia (1914); Vigdís Finnbogadóttir becomes the world’s first elected female head of state, as new Icelandic president (1980); MTV begins broadcasting (1981).
Born on August 1: Yves Saint Laurent (1936), Adam Duritz (1964), Sam Mendes (1965)