Scouting Through History

Scouting History Bits & Pieces #2 - Early Merit Badges and Honor Medals by Dave Eby


The very first merit badges earned in the Boy Scouts of America took place in 1911. There were a total of 83 earned that year by 30 different Boy Scouts from around the country. Going by information printed in the Second Annual BSA Report presented on February 8, 1912, the very first Boy Scout to have been awarded merit badges through the National Council appears to have been Richard Burckes of Waltham, Massachusetts. He earned six of them and they were Swimming, Life Saving, Cycling, Firemanship, Personal Health and Public Health. Also in 1911 there were 22 Honor Medals presented by the BSA. The first one listed went to Charles Scruggs of Cuero, Texas. The first named Scouter to receive an Honor Medal was the 10th one awarded that same year which went to C.P. Harris of Rutland, Vermont, who was a Scoutmaster.


Source of information: the Second Annual BSA Report by James E. West which was presented on February 8, 1912.


Written by

David L. Eby

Council Historian

Miakonda Scouting Museum

Erie Shores Council, BSA

Toledo, Ohio



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