Merit Badge History Pages
 
THE ORIGINS OF MERIT BADGES

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

 

 
this page last reviewed / updated: September 2017
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