William Dickson Boyce

February 6, 2012 by staff 

William Dickson Boyce, 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.

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