Historical Merit Badge Program

Merit badges have been a fixture of the Boy Scouts of America since its inception in 1910. The requirements that generations of Scouts have completed have taught lifetime citizenship lessons, personal fitness habits, and life skills. They have been the beginnings of countless careers and lifetime hobbies.  In the last 99 years, there have been many changes in the merit badge offerings. As society has changed, the Boy Scouts of America has adapted by revising the requirements, implementing name changes, adding new merit badges, and in some instances, eliminating some badges altogether.

For the 100th Anniversary Celebration, four vintage merit badges are being released for the centennial celebration year only, giving Boy Scouts the hands-on opportunity to experience the exciting past of Scouting while learning how our world has changed in that 100 years.

Here are the basics of the 2010 Historic Merit Badge program.

  • An overall goal of the program is for a majority of the BSA’s registered Boy Scouts to earn one or more of the merit badges during the centennial year, 2010.
  • The badges offered have a history that can be traced back to the origins of the BSA.
  • The original requirements are being used, as well as supported by scanned pages of the early merit badge pamphlets so a Scout can view what a Scout 100 years ago used. Supporting the scanned pages of the original pamphlets are information guides for each merit badge that explain what a Scout of 1910 might have experienced, along with background information to assist a Scout in understanding what maybe unfamiliar terms.
  • The contemporary merit badges closely resemble the original designs of their counterparts with the exception of the border, which is gold The unique border will immediately identify it as a 2010 historic merit badge.
  • The four historical merit badges may be used toward a Scout’s rank advancement.
  • The effective date for earning these new merit badges is April 1, 2010, and requirements must be completed no later than Dec. 31, 2010.
  • The BSA will not reprint the pamphlets for these merit badges. Reprints of the original merit badge pamphlets are posted here.
  • As with all merit badges, units, districts, and councils should recruit and register qualified counselors for these badges.

Badges may be earned by individual Scouts. District and council advancement committees are encouraged to offer opportunities for Scouts to work on at least some of these merit badges at resident camp, at camporees, or during special anniversary celebrations. See the “how to” sections for additional support here.

Experience the History of Scouting!

Here are four merit badge pamphlets that a Scout many years ago would have used to earn merit badges. Two versions of pamphlets have been used here to show that the earlier version had little color and used illustrations while later, color and photographs were added.  It is also interesting to note while reading these older merit badge pamphlets how language has changed and how some elements of Scouting have adapted to keep Scouting relevant with the times.

These also list the original requirements as written in 1910–1911. Think about how times have changed as you complete the requirements a Scout your age would have done a hundred years ago.

As the Boy Scouts of America celebrates 100 years of Scouting in the United States, today’s youths will have the opportunity to experience a piece of the past.

The four vintage merit badges that will count toward rank advancement are being released for the centennial year only, giving Boy Scouts a hands-on opportunity to experience the exciting past of the BSA.

Earning these historical merit badges should be more than just earning another merit badge. By reading these merit badge pamphlets and completing the requirements as close to how a Scout of 1910 would have done them will be your true growth experience.

Carpentry

Pathfinding

Signaling

Tracking