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Find information on the history of every Merit Badge and Merit Badge Pamphlet through the 100+ year history of the Boy Scouts of America.

These pages and and their content will continually be updated as new information is discovered.  If you have any information that may help improve the accuracy of this information, please submit an email to Scoutmaster Bucky.  Your input is appreciated.


When one is asked the icons of Scouting, the most commonly identified are: the campfire, the uniform, and merit badges. The merit badge program has deleivered knowledge, skills and career awareness to millions of youth for the last 100 years.

The preface of Scouting for Boys, written in 1908, by Lord Robert Baden-Powell; the founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, included a description of the four components of the Scouting program. The second of those components was, “Handicrafts or hobbies which may help a boy to make his way in life, for which we give ‘Proficiency’ badges”

In 1910, the American Scouting movement was incorporated by William D Boyce and others. The original edition of The Official Handbook for Boys was published in 1911 to standardize the program. In addressing merit badges, known at that time as Badges of Merit, the manual stated, “These badges are intended to stimulate the boy’s interest in the life about him and are given for general knowledge”. That purpose has changed little since those early days. Recent editions of the Boy Scout Handbook stated, “A merit badge is an invitation to explore an exciting subject... some merit badges encourage you to increase your skill in subjects you already like, while others challenge you to learn about new areas of knowledge ... a merit badge can even lead you toward a lifelong hobby or set you on the way to a rewarding career”

Ernest Thompson-Seton, an author, nature artist, and naturalist from New York, was commissioned to adapt Scouting for Boys into a manual for the new BSA organization and his 1910 publication included 14 Badges of Merit. The following year, a more comprehensive manual was released by the BSA and is considered the original handbook. The Official Handbook for Boys listed 57 different merit badges available to Scouts. From that point on, national leaders of the organization have considered and approved merit badges on subjects that interest boys and help achieve the purposes of the BSA

Merit Badges shown in bold are currently active merit badges. Links will take you to the detailed history page for that specific merit badge.  Please feel free to contact Scoutmaster Bucky if you find anything in error.
Merit Badge HISTORY Pages
Aerodynamics Farm Mechanics Plumbing
Aeronautics Farm Records Pottery
Agribusiness Farm Records and Bookkeeping Poultry Farming
Agriculture Fingerprinting Poultry Keeping
Airplane Design Fire Safety Printing
Airplane Structure Firemanship Printing/Communications
Ambulance First Aid Programming
American Business First Aid to Animals Public Health
American Cultures Fish & Wildlife Management Public Speaking
American Heritage Fishing Pulp and Paper
American Labor Fly-Fishing Rabbit Raising
Angling Food Systems Radio
Animal Industry Forage Crops Railroading
Animal Science Forestry Reading
Animation Foundry Practice Reptile and Amphibian Study
Archaeology Fruit & Nut Growing Reptile Study
Archery Fruit Culture Reptiles
Architecture Game Design Rifle & Shotgun Shooting
Art Gardener Rifle Shooting
Astronomy Gardening Robotics
Athletics Genealogy Rocks and Minerals
Atomic Energy General Science Rowing
Auto Mechanics Geocaching Safety
Automobiling Geology Safety First
Automotive Maintenance Golf Salesmanship
Automotive Safety Graphic Arts Scholarship
Aviation Grasses, Legumes, and Forage Crops Scouting Heritage
Backpacking Handicap(ped) Awareness Scuba Diving
Basketry Handicraft Sculpture
Bee Keeping, Beekeeping Hiking Seaman
Beefarming Hog and Pork Production Seamanship
Beef Production Hog Production Search and Rescue
Bird Study Home Repairs Sheep Farming
Blacksmithing Horseman Shotgun Shooting
Bookbinding Horsemanship Signaling
Botany Indian Lore Signaler
Bugling Insect Life Signs, Signals, and Codes
Business Insect Study Skating
Camping Interpreting Skiing
Canoeing Invention Small-Boat Sailing
Carpentry Inventing Small Grains
Cement Work Journalism Small Grains and Cereal Foods
Chemistry Kayaking Snow Sports
Chess Landscape Architecture Soil and Water Conservation
Cinematography Landscape Gardening Soil Management
Citizenship Landscaping Space Exploration
Citizenship in the Community Law Sports
Citizenship in the Home Leatherwork(ing) Stalker
Citizenship in the Nation Leathercraft Stalking (Tracking)
Citizenship in the World Lifesaving Stamp Collecting
Citrus Fruit Culture Machinery Surveying
Civics Mammal Study Sustainability
Clerk Mammals Swimming
Climbing Marksman Taxidermy
Coin Collecting Marksmanship Textile(s)
Collections Masonry Theater
Communications Master-at-Arms Traffic Safety
Composite Materials Mechanical Drawing Truck Transportation
Computers Medicine Veterinary Medicine
Conservation Metallurgy Veterinary Science
Conservation of Natural Resources Metals Engineering Waterskiing
Consumer Buying Metalwork Water Sports
Cooking Mining Weather
Corn Farming Mining in Society Welding
Cotton Farming Model Design & Building Whitewater
Craftsmanship Motorboating Wilderness Survival
Crime Prevention Moviemaking Wildlife Management
Cycling Music Wireless
Cyclist Musician Wood Carving
Dairying Nature Wood Turning
Dentistry Nuclear Science Woodwork
Digital Technology Nut Culture World Brotherhood (Citizenship)
Disabilities Awareness Oceanography Zoology
Dog Care Orienteering  
Drafting Ornithology  
Dramatics Painting  
Electrician Pathfinding  
Electricity Personal Finances  
Electronics Personal Fitness  
Emergency Preparedness Personal Health  
Energy Personal Management  
Engineering Pets  
Entrepreneurship Photography  
Environmental Science Physical Development  
Family Life Pigeon Raising  
Farm and Ranch Management Pioneer  
Farm Arrangement Pioneering  
Farm Home and It's Planning Plant Science  
this page last reviewed / updated: October 2016