Brief Background of Boys State

The Boys State program was originally a concept created by Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card.  In 1935, Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Card were concerned about a project underway at the time called “Young Pioneer Camps.”  This camp was promoted by the Communist Party as a way to show the uselessness of Democracy and advocate the virtues of Communism. These men felt that a counter-movement should be started among the ranks of the nation’s youth to stress the importance and value of our democratic form of government and maintain an effort to preserve it.

The Illinois Department of The American Legion approved their project and in June of 1935, the first “Boys State” in the nation was held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.  From there, the program swiftly spread among other American Legion Departments and by 1941, 34 states were running a Boys State program.  Currently, 49 states and Washington D.C. conduct an American Legion Boys State programs with a total class of about 20,000 delegates annually.  Hawaii is the only state that does not have a Boys State program.

The History of Hoosier Boys State

The Indiana Department of The American Legion soon followed their Illinois neighbor and had their first “Boys State” program in 1937 at the field house of Butler University. The program originally started with over 500 delegates in attendance and elected Lloyd Wampler as the first Hoosier Boys State Governor.  Since then, Hoosier Boys’ State had been conducted annually with the exception of 1945, when WWII restrictions forced a suspension of activities.  Hoosier Boys’ State has had many “homes” since 1937; with Trine University in Angola, Indiana being it’s most recent host.  Other institutions to have hosted Hoosier Boys State include:

Butler University 1937 1937
Indiana State Fairgrounds 1938 1941
Indiana State School for the Deaf 1942 1955
Indiana University 1956 1968
Indiana State University 1969 2008
Trine State University 2009 Present