Merit Badges, Past and Present, And Their Evolution

compiled by Steve Henning

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1911 Gardening
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1934 Public Health
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1936 Civics
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1942 Camping
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1947 Dog Care
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1961 Forage Crops
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1972 Collections
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1992 White Water
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2002 Fish & Wildlife Mgt.
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2010 Tracking
 

Introduction to Steve Henning's Merit Badge List

I went through every edition of the BSA handbook and compiled the following list. I have cross-checked with many lists, but errors may still be present. This list was compiled on February 24, 1996, and updated July 15, 2013. It will change if new information is discovered. The years are the best estimate of when the merit badges were used, but may be off by a year in some cases. Some were minor name changes such as leather work/leatherwork/leatherworking and mammals/mammal study and did not result in new requirements, a new merit badge book or a new badge design. The latest changes were the addition of the Sustainability, Game Design, Welding, Search and Rescue, and Kayaking Merit Badges. The temporary resurrection of 4 historic merit badges: Carpentry, Pathfinding, Signaling, and Tracking in 2010 is over and these badges are no longer supported (Tracking was actually the resurrection of Stalking with a name change). Badge code numbers are shown in parentheses. This numbering scheme was adopted in 1987 and the Eagle required merit badges had numbers 1 through 14. Numbers 120 and up were added after the list was created in 1987. For an overview of the BSA Merit Badge Program, read the BSA Introduction to Merit Badges.


Merit Badges Now and in the Past

1910 BSA Handbook (called the Book of Organization) by Chief Scout, Ernest Thompson Seton, had 14 "Badges of Merit". They were:  Ambulance, Clerk, Cycling, Electrician, Fireman, Gardener, Horseman, Marksmanship, Master-at-Arms, Musician, Pioneer, Seamanship, Signaler, and Stalkers.

The 1911 Handbook carried over all the 1910 Badges of Merit except the Master-at-Arms Badge of Merit. The Master-at-Arms Badge involved mastering 3 of the following combat skills: single stick, boxing, ju jitsu, wrestling, quarterstaff and fencing.  The 1911 Handbook changed the term to Merit Badge and changed the names of the other 13 merit badges:

Ambulance was changed to First Aid; 
Clerk was changed to Business;
Cyclist was changed to Cycling;
Electrician was changed to Electricity;
Fireman was changed to Firemanship;
Gardener was changed to Gardening;
Horseman was changed to Horsemanship;
Marksman was changed to Marksmanship;
Musician was changed to Music;
Pioneer was changed to Pioneering;
Seaman was changed to Seamanship;
Signaler was changed to Signaling;
Stalker was changed to Stalking and in 2010 was changed to Tracking.

There were a total of 57 merit badges in the 1911 handbook.  These included the 13 above that were carried over and the following which were added:  Agriculture, Angling, Archery, Architecture, Art, Astronomy, Athletics, Automobiling, Aviation, Bee Farming, Blacksmithing, Bugling, Camping, Carpentry, Chemistry, Civics, Conservation, Cooking, Craftsmanship, Dairying, First Aid to Animals, Forestry, Handicraft, Interpreting, Invention, Leather Working, Life Saving, Machinery, Masonry, Mining, Ornithology, Painting, Pathfinding, Personal Health, Photography, Plumbing, Poultry Farming, Printing, Public Health, Scholarship, Sculpture, Surveying, Swimming, and Taxidermy.

Some interesting merit badge facts:

Number of original merit badges in 1910: 13

Merit badges added in 1911: 44 to make a total of 57 (26 of these are still in use.)

Number of merit badges added since 1911: 204 for a total of 261

Number of merit badges still in current use: 134

Last merit badges added, Programming & Sustainability on July 15, 2013 at the Jamboree and Mining in Society on February 24, 2014.

Last merit badges dropped: Agribusiness, Beekeeping, Botany, Consumer Buying, General Science, Machinery, and Masonry in 1995.

Last merit badge with a new name: Automotive Maintenance (was Auto Mechanics in 2008) and Moviemaking (was Cinematography in 2013). [Note, Moviemaking has a new number}

In 2010, for the Centennial of the BSA, 4 merit badges were resurrected with updated requirements for just the one year, 2010: Carpentry, Pathfinding, Signaling, and Tracking. The Stalking merit badge was resurrected, but with a new name, Tracking. [Stalking had a bad connotation in 2010.] If we include these 4, there have been 200 additional merit badges. My rational for not counting 3 of these twice is that the Aviation merit badge had a hiatus of 10 years from 1942 until 1952 and I only counted it once. To be consistent, I do count 1 of the historic merit badges a second time. Tracking was a new name, and since in the past, merit badges with new names were considered to be new merit badges, I will count Tracking. Hence, only including one of the historic merit barges, Tracking, there have been 197 additional merit badges.

Merit badges are designed to emphasize the ability “to do” rather than just knowledge.  They were designed to “introduce a boy to life” including careers , hobbies, and other skills.  In 2013, Programming became the 132rd current merit badge, Sustainability became the 133th current merit badge, Mining in Society became the 134th merit badge. Of these 134 merit badges, 26 remain from the group of 57 original merit badges from 1911, and 108 have been introduced since 1911. An additional 96 merit badges were created after 1911 that were subsequently dropped. So, all together, there have been a total of 261 different merit badges.

In the 1990's, a director of the Boy Scout division of the BSA stated at a Boy Scout Program conference at Philmont that a merit badge is never officially dropped. They are just omitted from all literature, the cloth badge is not made, and there are no books published. Apparently someone that has the most recent set of requirements could use them. I am not sure how one went about getting an approved merit badge counselor. That could be a problem, however that didn't stopped some people. An example of this is the Rabbit Raising Merit Badge that was dropped in 1993. BSA records indicate that 49 Rabbit Raising Merit Badges were earned in 2003.

Apparently the BSA has some misgivings about councils awarding merit badges after they are "discontinued." The Guide to Advancement, which replaced Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures in 2011, added the section below which reads:

"7.0.4.4 - Discontinued Merit Badges

"Scouts may not begin working on discontinued merit badges. If actual effort has already begun by the time discontinuation becomes effective, and work actively continues, then the badge may be completed and can count toward rank advancement, but presentation of the badge itself will be subject to availability. It is a misconception that discontinued merit badges may be earned as long as the patch and requirements can be found."

Also, some "youth and adults that are developmentally disabled, or youth with severe physical challenges" are eligible to be members beyond the normal age of eligibility and have permission to work on rank advancement and merit badges as long as they continue to be registered. If they started a merit badge before it was "discontinued," then they supposedly can keep on working on it, presumably with the same merit badge counselor they started with. Using a more realistic approach, my definition for the final year for a merit badge is the last year it appears in BSA literature as a valid merit badge even though it may be earned many years after that.

The following lists indicate in parenthesis any assigned merit badge code number; any preceding merit badge that may be related; and the number of each merit badge issued in 2007. I am indebted to several people who provided new sources of information, especially Fred Duersch, Jr. and Paul S. Wolf.


134 Merit Badges In Current Use And Their Predecessors

Advanced Computing(???) TBA 2015
American Business (15)  1967-present    (Business              1911-66)       805 in 2013
American Cultures (17)  1979-present                                        2,883 in 2013
American Heritage (16)  1975-present                                        6,649 in 2013
American Labor    (121) 1987-present                                          812 in 2013
Animal Science    (18)  1975-present    (Animal Industry       1928-75)     4,174 in 2013
Animation         (???) TBA 2014
Archeology        (132) 1997-present                                        8,913 in 2013
Archery ~~        (19)  1911-present                                       43,897 in 2013
Architecture      (20)  1911-present                                        3,956 in 2013
Art               (21)  1911-present                                       28,030 in 2013
Astronomy         (22)  1911-present                                       16,332 in 2013
Athletics ~~      (23)  1911-present                                        3,465 in 2013
Automotive Maintenance (127) 2008-present (Auto Mechanics    1992-2008)    10,084 in 2013
Aviation          (25)  1911-42 &'52-pres. (Aerodynamics, etc. 1942-52)    18,330 in 2013
Backpacking       (26)  1982-present                                        4,114 in 2013
Basketry          (27)  1927-present    (Craftsmanship         1911-26)    22,073 in 2013
Bird Study        (29)  1914-present    (Ornithology           1911-13)     6,405 in 2013 
Bugling           (32)  1911-present                                          515 in 2013
Camping *         (1)   1911-present                                       58,982 in 2013
Canoeing          (33)  1927-present                                       33,409 in 2013
Chemistry         (34)  1911-present                                       10,731 in 2013
Chess             (147) 2011-present                                       27,315 in 2013
Citizenship in the Community *(2)1952-pres.(Citizenship/Civics 1947-51)    56,928 in 2013
Citizenship in the Nation * (3) 1951-pres.(Citizenship/Civics  1947-51)    61,272 in 2013
Citizenship in the World * (4) 1972-present (World Brotherhood 1952-72)    64,452 in 2013
Climbing          (133) 1997-present                                       22,861 in 2013
Coin Collecting   (35)  1938-present                                        5,667 in 2013
Collections       (128) 1991-present                                        4,966 in 2013
Communication *   (5)   1965-present                                       57,111 in 2013
Composite Materials (137) 2008-present                                      1,610 in 2013
Computer-Aided Design (???) TBA 2015
Cooking *         (38)  1911-present                                       44,093 in 2013
Crime Prevention  (131) 1996-present                                        7,274 in 2013
Cycling *** ~~    (39)  1911-present    (Cyclist           ~~~ 1910-11)     6,551 in 2013
Dentistry         (40)  1975-present                                        4,213 in 2013
Digital Technology(36)  2013-present    (Computers  (36)       1967-2013)  15,149 in 2013
Disabilities Awareness (60) 1993-pres.  (Handicap Awareness (60) 1985-93)   6,690 in 2013
Dog Care          (41)  1938-present                                        3,351 in 2013
Drafting          (42)  1965-present    (Mechanical Drawing    1933-64)     1,377 in 2013
Electricity       (43)  1911-present    (Electrician       ~~~ 1910-11)    10,968 in 2013
Electronics       (44)  1963-present                                        8,753 in 2013
Emergency Preparedness ** (6) 1972-present                                 50,153 in 2013
Energy            (45)  1976-present                                        3,989 in 2013
Engineering       (46)  1967-present                                       10,445 in 2013
Entrepreneurship  (134) 1997-present    (Business              1911-66)     1,900 in 2013
Environmental Science****(7)1972-pres.(Conserv. of Natural Resources'66-72)71,609 in 2013
Family Life *     (129) 1991-present  (Citizenship in the Home 1952-72)    56,310 in 2013
Farm Mechanics    (48)  1928-present                                        2,421 in 2013
Fingerprinting    (49)  1938-present                                       45,140 in 2013
Fire Safety       (50)  1995-present    (Firemanship (50)      1911-95)    12,988 in 2013
First Aid *       (8)   1911-present    (Ambulance             1910)       87,477 in 2013
Fish & Wildlife Mgmt.(51) 1972-present  (Wildlife Mgmt.        1952-72)    13,411 in 2013
Fishing ~~        (52)  1952-present    (Angling               1911-51)    29,788 in 2013
Fly Fishing       (136) 2002-present (Fishing merit badge still exists)     4,690 in 2013
Forestry ~~       (54)  1911-present                                       14,874 in 2013
Game Design       (151) 2013-present                                        2,657 in 0213
Gardening         (55)  1911-present    (Gardener          ~~~ 1910-11)     1,972 in 2013
Genealogy         (56)  1972-present                                        5,740 in 2013
Geocaching        (145) 2011-present                                       17,031 in 2013
Geology           (58)  1953-present    (Rocks & Minerals      1937-53)    22,103 in 2013
Golf              (59)  1976-present                                        4,921 in 2013
Graphic Arts      (122) 1987-pre. (Printing/Communications (88) 1982-88)    3,140 in 2013
Hiking *** ~~     (61)  1921-present                                        7,856 in 2013
Home Repairs      (62)  1943-present    (Handicraft            1911-42)     3,790 in 2013
Horsemanship ~~   (63)  1911-present    (Horseman          ~~~ 1910-11)    10,977 in 2013 
Indian Lore       (64)  1931-present                                       24,535 in 2013
Insect Study      (65)  1987-present    (Insect Life           1923-86)     3,613 in 2013
Inventing         (144) 2010-present    (Invention             1911-17)     2,704 in 2013
Journalism        (66)  1927-present                                          945 in 2013
Kayaking          (149) 2012-present                                       36,217 in 2013
Landscape Architecture (67) 1967-present (Landscaping          1959-66)     1,618 in 2013
Law               (68)  1974-present                                        6,946 in 2013
Leatherwork       (69)  1951-present    (Leather Work          1928-51)    44,344 in 2013
Lifesaving ** ~   (9)   1911-present                                       25,945 in 2013
Mammal Study      (71)  1987-present    (Mammals               1972-86)    24,064 in 2013
Medicine          (130) 1991-present                                        3,990 in 2013
Metalwork         (74)  1927-present    (Craftsmanship         1911-26)    13,259 in 2013
Mining in Society (155) 2014-present 
Model Design & Building (75) 1963-present                                   3,628 in 2013
Motorboating ~~   (76)  1961-present                                       11,012 in 2013
Moviemaking       (156) 2013-present    (Cinematography (126)  1990-2013)   8,465 in 2013      
Multi-Media       (???) TBA 2014
Music             (77)  1911-present    (Musician          ~~~ 1910-11)    14,223 in 2013
Nature ~          (78)  1952-present                                       16,164 in 2013
Nuclear Science   (24)  2005-present    (Atomic Energy         1963-04)     7,666 in 2013
Oceanography      (79)  1964-present                                       10,969 in 2013
Orienteering      (80)  1973-present    (Pathfinding           1911-52)    16,909 in 2013
Painting          (81)  1911-present                                        4,911 in 2013
Personal Fitness * ~~ ~(10) 1952-present (Physical Development 1914-52)    56,295 in 2013
                                           & Personal Health   1911-52)   
Personal Management * (11) 1972-present (Personal Finances     1962-71)    54,529 in 2013
Pets              (82)  1958-present                                        5,659 in 2013
Photography       (83)  1911-present                                       17,800 in 2013
Pioneering        (84)  1911-present    (Pioneer           ~~~ 1910-11)    19,525 in 2013
Plant Science     (85)  1974-present                                        2,712 in 2013
Plumbing          (86)  1911-present                                        5,178 in 2013
Pottery           (87)  1927-present    (Craftsmanship         1911-26)     9,869 in 2013
Programming       (153) 2013-present                                          480 in 2013
Public Health ~   (89)  1911-present                                        2,006 in 2013
Public Speaking   (90)  1932-present                                        7,289 in 2013
Pulp & Paper      (91)  1972-present                                        7,034 in 2013
Radio             (93)  1923-present    (Wireless              1919-23)     7,208 in 2013
Railroading       (94)  1952-present                                        7,191 in 2013
Reading           (95)  1929-present                                        5,216 in 2013
Reptile & Amphibian Study (96) 1993-present (Reptile Study (96) 1927-93)    8,483 in 2013
Rifle Shooting    (123) 1987-pres.(Rifle & Shotgun Shooting (97)1967-87)   47,054 in 2013
Robotics          (146) 2011-present                                       13,401 in 2013
Rowing            (98)  1933-present                                       10,944 in 2013
Safety ~          (12)  1927-present    (Safety First          1916-26)     4,349 in 2013
Salesmanship      (99)  1927-present                                        6,348 in 2013
Scholarship       (100) 1911-present                                        5,956 in 2013
Scouting Heritage (143) 2010-present                                        5,660 in 2013
Scuba Diving      (138) 2009-present                                        2,370 in 2013
Sculpture         (101) 1911-present                                       11,493 in 2013
Search and Rescue (150) 2012-present                                       10,552 in 2013
Shotgun Shooting  (124) 1987-pres.(Rifle & Shotgun Shooting (97)1967-87)   24,603 in 2013
Signs, Signals, & Codes (???) TBA late 2014
Skating           (103) 1973-present                                        2,406 in 2013
Small Boat Sailing (105) 1964-present   (Seamanship            1911-64)    16,857 in 2013
Snow Sports       (135) 1999-present    (Skiing  (104)         1938-99)     9,134 in 2013
Soil & Water Conservation ~ (106)1952-present (Soil Management 1928-52)    11,697 in 2013
Space Exploration (107) 1965-present                                       23,290 in 2013
Sports ~~         (13)  1972-present                                        8,950 in 2013
Stamp Collecting  (108) 1931-present                                        1,045 in 2013
Surveying         (109) 1911-present                                        1,235 in 2013
Sustainability    (152) 2013-present
Swimming ** ~     (14)  1911-present                                       72,496 in 2013
Textile           (110) 1973-present    (Textiles              1927-72)     4,673 in 2013
Theater           (111) 1967-present    (Dramatics             1932-66)     2,320 in 2013
Traffic Safety    (112) 1975-present    (Automotive Safety     1962-74)     7,582 in 2013
Truck Transportation (113) 1973-present                                     2,847 in 2013
Veterinary Medicine (114) 1995-pres. (Veterinary Science (114) 1973-95)     3,455 in 2013
Water Sports      (115) 2007-present    (Waterskiing   (115) 1969-2007)     3,935 in 2013
Weather           (116) 1927-present                                       15,958 in 2013
Welding           (148) 2012-present                                       10,919 in 2013
Whitewater        (125) 1987-present                                        3,252 in 2013
Wilderness Survival (117) 1973-present                                     43,158 in 2013
Wood Carving      (118) 1927-present    (Craftsmanship         1911-26)    41,120 in 2013
Woodwork          (119) 1927-present    (Craftsmanship         1911-26)     5,602 in 2013
 
Key:  *       indicates required for Eagle Scout rank
      **      indicates one of 2 is Eagle required (must complete Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving)
      ***     indicates one of 3 is Eagle required (must complete Cycling, Hiking, or Swimming)
      ****    indicates of of 2 is Eagle required (must complete Environmental Science or Sustainability)
~ indicates formerly Eagle required ~~ indicates formerly an Eagle multiple choice. ~~~ indicates from the 1910 BSA Handbook (called the book of organization) by Chief Scout, Ernest Thompson Seton, had 14 Badges of Merit. The first Handbook recognized presently by the BSA was in 1911.

Most and Least Popular Merit Badges in 2013

Most Popular Merit Badges in 2013

First Aid* 87,477
Swimming** 72,946
Environmental Science**** 71,609
Citizenship in the World* 64,452
Citizenship in the Nation* 61,272
Camping* 58,982
Communications* 57,111
Citizenship in the Community* 56,928
Personal Fitness* 56,295
Family Life* 55,080
Personal Management* 53,273
Emergency Preparedness*** 50,153
Rifle Shooting 47,054
Fingerprinting 45,140
Cooking* 44,903
Leatherwork 44,344
Archery 43,879
Wilderness Survival 43,158
Wood Carving 41,120
Kayaking 36,217

Least Popular Merit Badges in 2013

Programming (new in 2013) 480
Bugling 515
Sustainability ****(new in 2013) 590
American Business 805
Journalism 945
American Labor 1,090
Stamp Collecting 1,131
Surveying 1,307
Drafting 1,440
Composite Materials (new in 2008) 1,817
Landscape Architecture 1,872
Entrepreneurship 1,900
Gardening 1,972
Public Health 2,006
Theater 2,320
Scuba Diving (new in 2009) 2,370
Skating 2,406
Farm Mechanics 2,421
American Cultures 2,649
Game Design (new in 2013) 2,657

* On required list for Eagle Scout rank
** Required for Eagle (must complete Cycling, Hiking, or Swimming)
*** Required for Eagle (must complete Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving)
**** Required for Eagle (must complete Environmental Science or Sustainability)

Most of the very popular merit badges are the Eagle Scout rank required badges. Approximately 60,000 of each of these are earned each year. Other popular merit badges include camp handicrafts such as leatherwork and carving; popular camp activities such as archery, rifle shooting, kayaking, canoeing, indian lore, and wilderness survival; and others that are frequently done as a troop such as fingerprinting,

In looking at the list some general conclusions can be drawn. More Scouts are into Music than Sports, 15,088 to 9,112. There is a lot of interest in the classic Scouting skills of first aid, swimming, camping, canoeing, fishing, lifesaving, climbing, cooking, and nature study. Nature study accounts for 10 of the more popular merit badges: Environmental Science, Fishing, Mammal Study, Geology, Nature, Weather, Forestry, Fish & Wildlife Management, Soil and Water Conservation, and Reptile & Amphibian Study. Hiking has dropped to the middle of the pack along with Cycling, Scholarship and Reading.

Formerly, when a new merit badge was adopted, the least popular merit badge was in danger of being dropped. The last merit badges to be dropped were in 1995. They were Agribusiness, Beekeeping, Botany, Consumer Buying, General Science, Machinery, and Masonry. Others, such as Atomic Energy, Auto Mechanics, Skiing and Water Skiing were not really dropped but were actually replaced by Nuclear Science, Automotive Maintenance, Snow Sports, and Water Sports.

The historic merit badges Carpentry, Pathfinding, Signaling and Tracking were dropped in 2011 but were only temporary for Scouting's 100th anniversary. Tracking was actually a new name since it was previously called Stalking.

Since 1995, at least 18 new merit badges were created and no old ones were dropped. These 18 new badges include:

Most Recent Merit Badges Added

1996:

1997:



2002:

2008:

2009:

2010:



Crime Prevention

Archaeology
Climbing
Entrepreneurship

Fly Fishing

Composite Materials

Scuba Diving

Scouting Heritage
Inventing
Geocaching

 

2011:


2012:



2013:



2014:

Robotics
Chess

Welding
Kayaking
Search and Rescue

Game Design
Sustainability
Programming

Mining in Society


Merit Badges No Longer In Use and Their Predecessors

Aerodynamics             1942-52         (Aviation              1911-42)
Aeronautics              1942-52         (Aviation              1911-42)
Agribusiness       (120) 1987-95  (Farm & Ranch Management (47) 1980-87)
Agriculture              1911-75
Airplane Design          1942-52         (Aviation              1911-42)
Airplane Structure       1942-52         (Aviation              1911-42)
Ambulance            ~~~ 1910-11
Angling                  1911-51
Animal Industry          1928-75
Atomic Energy       (24) 1963-04
Auto Mechanics     (127) 1992-08
Automobiling             1911-63
Automotive Safety        1962-74         (Automobiling          1911-63)
Aviation                 1911-42      (Aviation in use again since 1952)
Bee Keeping              1915-55         (Beefarming            1911-14)
Beef Production          1928-75
Beefarming               1911-14
Beekeeping         (28)  1956-95         (Bee Keeping           1915-55)
Blacksmithing            1911-52
Bookbinding        (30)  1927-87         (Craftsmanship         1911-26)
Botany             (31)  1921-95
Business                 1911-66         (Clerk             ~~~ 1910-11)
Carpentry                1911-52
Carpentry †       (139)  2010†           (Carpentry             1911-52)
Cement Work              1927-52         (Craftsmanship         1911-26)
Cinematography    (126)  1990-2013            
Citizenship (Civics)     1947-51         (Civics                1911-46)
Citizenship in the Home  1952-72         (Citizenship (Civics)  1947-51)
Citrus Fruit Culture     1931-52
Civics                   1911-46
Clerk                ~~~ 1910-11
Computers           (36) 1967-2013
Conservation             1911-52
Conservation of Natural Resources  ~ 1966-72 (Conservation      1911-52)
Consumer Buying     (37) 1975-95
Corn Farming             1928-75
Cotton Farming           1931-75
Craftsmanship            1911-26
Cyclist              ~~~ 1910-11
Dairying                 1911-75
Dramatics                1932-66
Electrician          ~~~ 1910-11
Farm & Ranch Management  (47) 1980-87    (Farm Records          1959-80)
Farm Arrangement         1960-73      (Farm Home & Its Planning 1928-59)
Farm Arrangements        1974-79         (Farm Arrangement      1960-73)
Farm Home & Its Planning   1928-59
Farm Layout & Building Arrangements   1928-59
Farm Records & Bookkeeping    1928-58
Farm Records             1959-80    (Farm Records & Bookkeeping 1928-58)
Fireman              ~~~ 1910-11
Firemanship  ~      (50) 1911-95         (Fireman           ~~~ 1910-11)
First Aid To Animals     1911-72
Food Systems        (53) 1978-87         (Agriculture           1911-75)
Forage Crops             1959-75 (Grasses, Legumes, & Forage Crops 1938-58)
Foundry Practice         1923-52
Fruit & Nut Growing      1953-75     (Fruit Culture/Nut Culture 1928-54
                                     & Citrus Fruit Culture    1931-52)
Fruit Culture            1928-54
Gardener             ~~~ 1910-11
General Science     (57) 1972-95         (Zoology               1930-72)
Grasses, Legumes, & Forage Crops   1938-58
Handicap Awareness  (60) 1985-93         (Handicapped Awareness 1980-85)
Handicapped Awareness    1980-85
Handicraft               1911-42
Hog & Pork Production    1928-58
Hog Production           1959-75         (Hog & Pork Production 1928-58)
Horseman             ~~~ 1910-11
Insect Life         (65) 1923-86
Interpreting             1911-52
Invention                1911-17
Landscape Gardening      1930-58
Landscaping              1959-66         (Landscape Gardening   1930-58)
Leather Work             1928-51         (Leatherworking        1911-27)
Leathercraft             1927-52         (Craftsmanship         1911-26)
Leatherworking           1911-27
Machinery           (70) 1911-95
Mammals             (71) 1972-86
Marksman             ~~~ 1910-11
Marksmanship  ~~         1911-66         (Marksman          ~~~ 1910-11)
Masonry             (72) 1911-95
Master-at-Arms       ~~~ 1910-11 (consisted of single stick, boxing, ju jitsu,
                                       wrestling, quarter staff and fencing.)
Mechanical Drawing       1933-64
Metallurgy               1965-71
Metals Engineering  (73) 1972-95         (Metallurgy            1965-71)
Mining                   1911-37
Musician             ~~~ 1910-11
Nut Culture              1928-54
Ornithology              1911-13
Pathfinding              1911-52
Pathfinding †      (140) 2010†           (Pathfinding            1911-52)
Personal Finances        1962-71
Personal Health          1911-52
Physical Development     1914-52
Pigeon Raising           1933-80
Pioneer              ~~~ 1910-11
Poultry Farming          1911-13
Poultry Keeping          1914-75         (Poultry Farming       1911-13)
Printing                 1911-81
Printing/Communications  (88) 1982-87    (Printing              1911-81)
Rabbit Raising      (92) 1943-93
Reptile Study       (96) 1927-93         (Reptiles                 1926)
Reptiles                 1926
Rifle & Shotgun Shooting  (97) 1967-87   (Marksmanship          1911-66)
Rocks & Minerals         1937-53         (Mining                1911-37)
Safety First             1916-26
Seaman               ~~~ 1910-11
Seamanship               1911-64         (Seaman            ~~~ 1910-11)
Sheep Farming            1928-75
Signaller            ~~~ 1910-11
Signaling          (102) 1911-92         (Signaller         ~~~ 1910-11)
Signaling †        (141) 2010†           (Signaling         ~~~ 1911-92)
Skiing             (104) 1938-99
Small Grains & Cereal Foods   1943-1958
Small Grains             1959-75 (Small Grains & Cereal Foods 1943-1958)
Soil Management          1928-52
Stalker              ~~~ 1910-11
Stalking                 1911-52         (Stalker           ~~~ 1910-11)
Taxidermy                1911-52
Textiles                 1927-72
Tracking †         (142) 2010†           (Stalking              1911-52)
Veterinary Science (114) 1973-95         (First Aid To Animals  1911-72)
Waterskiing        (115) 1969-07
Wildlife Management  ~~  1952-72         (Conservation          1911-52)
Wireless                 1919-23
Wood Turning             1930-52
World Brotherhood        1952-72         (Citizenship (Civics)  1947-51)
Zoology*                 1930-72

Key:    ~       indicates formerly Eagle required
        ~~      indicates formerly an Eagle multiple choice.
        ~~~     indicates from the 1910 BSA Handbook (called the book of organization)
                by Chief Scout, Ernest Thompson Seton, had 14 "Badges of Merit". The 
                first Handbook recognized presently by the BSA was in 1911.
        †       indicates historic merit badge brought back for just the year 2010, 

This list was compiled by Steve Henning using Scout Handbooks and Boy Scout Requirements and was compiled on February 24, 1996, and updated frequently since then. The Merit Badges which started in 1911 are the original ones. The evolution is an arbitrary process and in some cases is a name change and in others there is little connection and is noted for interest. Thanks to Fred Duersch, Jr., and Paul S. Wolf for finding several errors.

For a copy of the requirements for current merit badges and recent changes to the requirements, visit the Boy Scout Requirements site at: http://usscouts.org/mb/framesindex.html

Paul S. Wolf created an Excel Spreadsheet of all past and present merit badges for all years from 1910 to 2006. To view a simplified version of the spreadsheet, click here. Note: this is a 360 KB file and requires Microsoft Excel or compatible application to open.

Fred Duersch, Jr., has published several guides to collecting Merit Badges, including the Merit Badge Field Guide and Green Khaki Crimped-Edge Merit Badges.

Illustration of all Merit Badges in 1942 in PDF format is at:
http://scouters.us/mb1942.pdf

The BSA Merit Badge Counselors Guide is on line at: http://scouting.org/BoyScouts/GuideforMeritBadgeCounselors.aspx

The BSA Merit Badge Counselor Instructors Guide is on line at: http://scouting.org/boyscouts/trainingmodules/merit%20badge%20counselor%20instructors%20guide.aspx

"This module will guide new and potential merit badge counselors through their responsibilities in the role and will give them an understanding of the methods of counseling Scouts. It is intended as a short orientation course for new merit badge counselors before they begin working with Scouts."


A curious fact: Before 1952, a person could work on merit badges and earn Star, Life, and Eagle as an adult. So a person who became a Scout in 1910 could earn all 139 merit badges that were issued before 1952.

No one will ever know who earned the most merit badges and how many since that is not a statistic that is kept. It is not the purpose of the merit badge program to earn the most, but to gain exposure to careers and activities that may interest a Scout and may provide opportunities his entire life. A reporter for the Kansas City Star reported that an estimated 12 Scouts complete earning every merit badge each year.

In the '90s an Eagle Scout in Schuylkill County, PA, earned every Merit Badge that was offered, but that was only 126.

The Maximum Number of Merit Badges Available Any Given Year

Through the years merit badges and been added and terminated. Hence, the number of merit badges varies from year and also during a year since the start dates and end dates don't necessarily coincide with the calendar year. The following chart indicates the number of merit badges that were available during a year, but not necessarily at the same time. These dates are based upon the data in this website gleaned from Handbooks and Requirements books.

Year
 
# MBs

1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
1931
1932
1933
1934
1935
1936
1937
1938
1939

 

14
57
57
57
58
58
59
59
58
59
59
61
61
64
63
63
64
76
88
89
92
96
98
101
101
101
101
102
106
106

Year
 
# MBs

1940
1941
1942
1943
1944
1945
1946
1947
1948
1949
1950
1951
1952
1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969

 

106
106
110
111
111
111
111
111
111
111
111
113
120
103
102
100
100
100
101
101
100
101
103
106
107
109
110
112
112
113

Year
 
# MBs

1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999

 

113
113
122
121
123
127
117
117
118
119
120
118
119
119
119
120
119
127
120
120
121
124
124
126
123
125
116
119
119
120

Year
 
# MBs

2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013

 

119
119
120
120
120
120
120
121
122
122
125
127
130
135

At the "Troop, Crew and Pack 179, Virginia Beach, VA" website I found:

"Eagle Scout John Stanford from Limestone, NY was reported to have earned the most merit badges ever. The total was 142 and he had a total of 8 silver palms by his 18th birthday." This website no longer exists.

It is doubtful that this is accurate since he joined Boy Scouts in 1977 at the age of 10 (which is in itself problematic). The most merit badges he could have earned is 123. If a Scout joined in 1970 or 1971 they could earn 140 merit badges, and then only if one included twice the ones that were basically name changes like:

  • Animal Science / Animal Industry
  • Citizenship in the World / World Brotherhood
  • Environmental Science / Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Fish & Wildlife Management / Wildlife Management
  • Personal Management / Personal Finances
  • Textile / Textiles
  • Traffic Safety / Automotive Safety

Since there was no numbering scheme for merit badges until 1987, earning a merit badge that just had the name changed was OK. Today, one can only do it if the new name has a new number, for example:

Snow Sports (134) is different than Skiing (104) so they both can be earned, but Automotive Maintenance (127) is the same as Auto Mechanics (127), and Water Sports (115) is the same as Waterskiing (115) so they can only be earned once.

Approximate Maximum Number of Merit Badges A Scout Could Earn

Based upon him joining at his minimum joining age

Using the actual data of when merit badges were valid, the joining age as it varied from 12 to 11, the date a Scout must stop earning merit badges, one can calculate the maximum number of merit badges that should have been awarded. Since before council offices were brought on to the BSA ScoutNET computer around the year 2000, councils could easily make mistakes by not noting the official starting date of a merit badge, the official termination date of a merit badge and the age of the Scout when he earned the merit badge.

The joining requirements have changed periodically. The minimum joining ages were:

  • From 1910 to 1948 a boy needed to be 12 to join.
  • From 1949 to 1979 a boy needed to be 11 to join.
  • From 1979 to 1981 a boy need to be 11 or completed fifth grade.
  • From 1981 to 1990 a boy needed to be 11, or 10.5 and completed fifth grade.
  • From 1990 to 2004 a boy needed to be 11, or either completed fifth grade or earned the Arrow of Light.
  • From 2004 to the present a boy needed to be 11, or 10 and either completed fifth grade or earned the Arrow of Light.

Until 1952 a Scout or Scouter (adult Scout) could work on Merit Badges all of his life. In 1952 that was changed so that anyone 18 or over wasn't supposed to be allowed to earn a merit badge. Again, until records were computerized, there were some discrepancies. BSA records in their Annual Reports to Congress indicate some councils failed to observe the termination date of a merit badge and awarded them several years after that. That was further complicated since Scouts that had started a merit badge were allowed to finish it. So if a 10 year old started a merit badge just before it was terminated, he could finish earning it 7 years after it was terminated. Again, some councils lost track of when the official termination date was.

The following chart determines the approximate number of merit badges a Scout could earn if he joined at the earliest age and worked on merit badges until 1952 or, after that, until he reached age 18. Of course 1) the actual date during the year when a Scout's birthday fell, 2) the actual date during the year a merit badge became official, and 3) the actual date during the year when a merit badge was terminated can change these numbers slightly.

Approximate Maximum Number of Merit Badges A Scout Could Earn
Based upon him joining at his minimum joining age.

Year
 
# MBs

1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
1931
1932
1933
1934
1935
1936
1937
1938
1939

 

150
150
136
136
134
133
133
133
132
132
132
132
132
132
131
131
131
128
127
127
127
127
127
127
127
127
127
127
126
126

Year
 
# MBs

1940
1941
1942
1943
1944
1945
1946
1947
1948
1949
1950
1951
1952
1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969

 

126
126
126
124
124
124
124
123
125
125
126
126
124
110
110
109
110
113
115
114
113
119
119
120
119
117
128
130
133
138

Year
 
# MBs

1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999

 

140
140
139
133
134
133
123
123
123
124
123
129
128
129
132
133
134
134
129
130
133
133
133
133
130
131
121
121
122
122

Year
 
# MBs

2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012


 

122
124
125
128
130
135+*
135+*
135+*
135+*
135+*
135+*
135+*
135+*


* These numbers may increase as new Merit Badges are added.

Since each year a couple merit badges may be added and/or retired, the preceding chart indicates how this affects the total number available to a boy depending upon the year he joined.


Merit Badge Sashes and How Merit Badges are Worn

Merit badge sashes were introduced by the BSA in 1924. They had "2 across" and "3 across" version. From 1924 to 1945 they were tan. From 1946 to 1979 they were khaki. After 1979 there was only the "3 across" version and it was olive green. From 1972 to 1979 there was also a "3 across" dark green sash for Explorers and a light blue "3 across" one for Air Scouts.sash

The information on wearing of merit badges is very spotty in BSA literature, to say the least, and, in one case, inconsistent. The best example is the photo in BSA catalogs and on scoutstuff.org .

The following is what I could find.

Insignia Guide:

igsash[http://www.scouting.org/media/insigniaguide/06D.aspx]

Right sleeve, position 4 limited to six, merit badge sash no limit.

[http://www.scouting.org/media/insigniaguide/03.aspx?print=1]

Members may wear only temporary patches (no badges of rank) on the back of the merit badge sash. Members may wear only one merit badge sash at a time. A merit badge sash is never worn on the belt.

Boy Scout/Varsity Scout Uniform Inspection Sheet

Merit Badge Sash. If worn, merit badges are attached to front (and back, if needed) of sash.
Venture/Varsity letter is attached at bottom front corner. Temporary insignia may be worn on back.

Scout Handbooks:

Scoutmaster Handbooks:

1911 HB with illustration:
Wear Merit Badges on Right Sleeve of the Uniform Coat. [In illustrations they were sewn 3 across starting from 3" above the cuff on the outside of the sleeve]

1913 SMHB has no mention of wearing merit badges.

1914 HB with illustration:
Merit badges can be worn on the right sleeve only, in rows of not more than three, parallel with the edge of the cuff and two inches above the service stripes. It is suggested that the merit badges be sewn on a false half sleeve that may be fastened by hooks or snaps, so that it may be worn on the proper occasions, but detached on hikes and at times when wearing badges might seem undesirable.

1923 SMHB with illustration:
Merit Badges in 3 rows above braid (on Uniform Coat).

1927 HB with illustration:
Wear Merit Badges on Right Sleeve of the Uniform Coat or Shirt. [In illustrations they were sewn 3 across starting from 3" above the cuff on the outside of the sleeve]

1930 SMHB:
Merit Badges are worn on the right sleeve of the shirt , up to six in number, and must be worn in rows of two. The bottom row is parallel with the edge of the sleeve and 3 inches above it.
More than six Merit Badges are worn on the Scout Sash. This Merit Badge Sash is worn over the right shoulder. the lower point resting on the left side of the body. When worn under the neckerchief, Merit Badges are placed in rows of two or three according to the width of the sash selected. No Merit Badges are worn on the sleeve when the sash is worn. Second Class Scouts may wear the Merit Badge Sash.

1932 SMHB with illustration:
Merit Badges in rows of two each (not more than six) may be worn on right sleeve on long sleeved shirt bottom row 3 inches a above cuff.
Merit Badges and previous Badges of rank or office may be worn on Merit Badge Sash.
No Merit Badges on sleeve when sash is worn.

1938 SMHB with illustration:
Merit Badges in rows of two each (not more than six) may be worn on right sleeve on long sleeved shirt bottom row 3 inches a above cuff.
Merit Badges and previous Badges of rank or office may be worn on Merit Badge Sash.
No Merit Badges on sleeve when sash is worn.

1940 HB as no mention of wearing merit badges.

1945 HB with illustration:
Merit Badges worn on merit badge sash; (less than six may be worn on right sleeve above cuff in rows of three.

1946 SMHB has no mention of wearing merit badges.

1948 HB with illustration:
Wear up to six Merit Badges on Right Sleeve. Wear more than six on a sash.

 

1959 HB with illustration:
At the bottom of the right sleeve, starting 3 inches above the edge, you may wear up to six merit badges. If you have more than six, sew them on a sash; wear this over your right shoulder.

 

1965 HB with illustration:
Up to six merit badges may be worn on the right sleeve of the long-sleeve shirts starting 3 inches above the bottom of the cuff in rows of two. No merit badges may be worn on the short-sleeve shirt. Merit badges are also worn on the merit badge sash.
Wearing the Merit Badge Sash: Most Scouts wear their merit badges on a merit badge sash which is worn over the right shoulder. The merit badges are sewn three across starting from the top as illustrated on page 361. Wear your merit badge sash at courts of honor, troop inspections, flag ceremonies, and when you are on special service projects.

sash

1972 HB with illustration:
You may wear up to six merit badges on the left uniform shirt sleeve.
Any number of merit badges, from one on up, may be worn on a merit badge sash. The sash is worn only on ceremonial occasions and not in regular troop activities. [this error "left sleeve" was not corrected until the 1976 edition]

1972 SMHB with illustration:
Sleeve. Up to six merit badges may be worn on the right sleeve (long-sleeve shirts) in a column of two starting 3 inches above the bottom edge of the sleeve cuff.
Sash. Merit badges may be worn in a column of two on the narrow sash and a column of three on the wide sash. The sash is worn over the right shoulder. It is worn only on formal occasions. No badges other than merit badges may be worn on the sash.

1976 HB with illustration:
You may wear up to six merit badges on the right uniform shirt sleeve.
Any number of merit badges, from one on up, may be worn on a merit badge sash. The sash is worn only on ceremonial occasions and not in regular troop activities.

 

1979 HB with illustration:
Up to six merit badges may be worn on the right sleeve of the long-sleeve shirts starting 3 inches above the bottom of the cuff in rows of two. No merit badges may be worn on the short-sleeve shirt. For the merit badge sash, see the illustration on page 517. Only merit badges may be worn on the sash. [picture is similar to the above picture] [the first printing had an error and omitted this paragraph]

1981 SMHB with illustration:
Sleeve. Up to six merit badges may be worn on the right sleeve (long sleeve shirts) in a column of two starting 3 inches above the bottom edge of the sleeve.
Sash. Merit badges may be worn in a column of two on the narrow sash and a column of three on the wide sash. The sash is worn over the right shoulder. It is worn only on formal occasions. No badges other than merit badges may be worn on the sash. Badges may be worn on front and back of sash.

1990 HB:
Up to six merit badges may be worn on the right sleeve of the long-sleeve shirts starting 3 inches above the bottom edge of the cuff in rows of two. No merit badges may be worn on the short-sleeve shirt. Merit badges are also worn on the merit badge sash.

1990 SMHB with illustration:
Sleeve. Up to six merit badges may be worn on the right sleeve (long sleeve shirts) in a column of two starting 3 inches above the bottom edge of the sleeve.
Sash. Merit badges may be worn in a column of three on the sash. The sash is worn over the right shoulder. It is worn only on formal occasions. The Venture or Varsity Letter also may be worn at the bottom front of the sash.

1998 HB (page 188):
Merit Badges may be worn on a merit badge sash with the BSA uniform. Up to six merit badges may be worn in rows of two on the right sleeve of a long-sleeved uniform shirt starting 3 inches from the bottom edge of the cuff. No merit badges may be worn on a short-sleeved shirt.

1998 SMHB has no mention of wearing merit badges.


Different Types of Merit Badges Manufactured

Note: the following descriptions show different manufacturing practices. The dates reflect the dates they were manufactured a particular way. The dates that a particular council issued them varied considerably. Usually, old stock was used up before the newer badges were issued. Hence, the range of dates issued varied considerably from council to council.

mb
1911 Gardening
"Type A": These were embroidered on rolls of 2" dark tan cloth ribbon and then cut into squares. Before being sewn onto the uniform or Scout Sash, the frayed edges were folded and sewn under. Some were folded and sewn on the outer edges leaving a wide margin outside the embroidered green ring. Others were folded and sews near the wide green ring making the patch look round. These are called "square" since that is the way they were purchased. They were manufactured from 1911 to approximately 1933.
mb
1934 Public Health
"Type B": These were basically the same as Type A, except the edges were folded and sewn under by the manufacturer. When they were purchased they were already looking round. The margin between the edge and embroidered green ring was typically 1/4" leaving a patch that was 1.75" in diameter. These are called "wide border crimped" since the factory sewn edge was called crimped and the margin was wider than on later types. They were manufactured from approximately 1934 to 1935.
mb
1936 Civics
"Type C": These were made the same as the Type B except the margin between the edge and the embroidered green ring was typically 1/8" leaving a patch that was 1.5" in diameter. They were manufactured from approximately 1936 to 1942. After 1942, only the blue fabric, Air Scout merit badges were made this way. The khaki Boy Scout merit badges changed to Type D. The type C merit badges are called "tan narrow border crimped".
mb
1942 Camping
"Type D": These were made from a lighter weight cloth with a much finer weave and a lighter tan color. The change in material was necessitated by the demand for the heavier cloth during World War II. Other than the fabric, the Type D is the same as Type C. The Type D merit badges are called "fine twill". They were manufactured from 1942 to 1946. During this period, the blue merit badges were still Type C.
mb
1947 Dog Care
"Type E": After World War II, these merit badges were made from a heavier material like before the war, but the color was a khaki, not tan. The Type E merit badges are called "khaki narrow border crimped". They were manufactured from approximately 1947 to 1960.
mb
1961 Swimming

"Type F": These were made with the embroidered green ring actually being used to hem the edge of the badge. So rather than being crimped, this process was called rolled. This construction resulted in a thinner patch, so a backing of a white gauze was used to stiffen the badge. The Type F, are called "rolled edge khaki twill" and have the same green khaki material as the Type E. They were manufactured from approximately 1961 to 1968.

mb
1961 Forage Crops

"Type G": At the same time, some were made with full embroidered backs. These had a more substantial cloth backing and are called "cloth back". They were manufactured from approximately 1961 to 1971. In approximately 1969 all merit badges were Type G fully embroidered. Also, in 1969, Eagle required merit badges had a silver border rather than the green border. These and all subsequent badges were all fully embroidered.

mb
1972 Collections
"Type H": These were made with a plastic stiffener as well as with the cloth backing of the Type G. Hence these are called "plastic back". They were manufactured from approximately 1972 to the present.
mb
1992 White Water

"Type I": Starting in 1992, some merit badges were manufactured on a computer-controlled embroidery machine. This necessitated that the edges were not rolled, but were flat. These are called "computer designed". They characteristically had a wider border than Type H. Some of the ones made this way include Animal Science, Disability Awareness, Energy, and Gardening.

This design proved to generate a number of complaints, so these were discontinued in1995. Not all merit badges were ever made this way. After 1995 all merit badges were "Type H" again.

mb
2002 Fish & Wildlife Mgt.
"Type J": Starting in 2002, the BSA put the Supply Division logo on the back of all patches including merit badges to reduce counterfeiting. They look identical to Type H except for this new back. Since the Supply Division logo is "Scout Stuff", these are called "Scout Stuff".
mb
2010 Tracking

"Historic Merit Badges Program": In 2010, for the BSA Centennial, four historic merit badges were revived just for the one year. They are unique in that they are made on tan twill with a tan rolled edge. There were 4 of them:

  • Carpentry which had been discontinued in 1952;
  • Pathfinding which had been discontinued in 1952;
  • Signaling which had been discontinued in 1992; and
  • Tracking which was originally called Stalking and had been discontinued in 1952.

The original requirements were used as much as possible. The name of the Stalking merit badge was changed to Tracking because of what the term stalking means in today’s language and society.


2010 Historic Merit Badges Program

carpentry  pathfinding  signaling  tracking
Carpentry         Pathfinding       Signaling           Tracking  

2010 was the Centennial of the Boy Scouts of America since the BSA was founded in 1910. As part of the Centennial celebration the 2010 Historic Merit Badge Program was announced on the Scouting Magazine blog http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/ on January 12, 2010. Then on February 2, 2010, the BSA issued a note saying that “the Historic Merit Badge program for the Centennial has been delayed. Although a notice was placed in the Scouting Magazine "Cracker Barrel" blog, it was premature. The requirements published in the brochure are DRAFTS, and have not been finalized or approved yet."

Then on April 1, 2010, the BSA announced the official start of the 2010 Historic Merit Badge Program when boys could begin earning Carpentry, Pathfinding, Signaling, and Tracking: four merit badges brought back for the Centennial year except Tracking. There never was a merit badge called Tracking. What the BSA did was to take the Stalking Merit Badge and rename it Tracking for the purposes of the 2010 Historic Merit Badge Program. The final requirements were the same as the requirements for the original historic merit badges except for Tracking which eliminates the "stalking a human being" requirement. The draft brochure had changed all of the requirements for Pathfinding. These changes were dropped from the final version.

The program honored Scouting's rich 100-year history by introducing Scouts to the merit badges earned by yesterday's youth. To bring the badges into a 21st-century context, the BSA has created supplemental information guides that will accompany scans of the original merit badge pamphlets.

1975-6 Colonial Philadelphia Merit Badge

CPMBIn 1975 and 1976, the BSA authorized the Philadelphia Council to issue the Colonial Philadelphia Merit Badge. One question: is a merit badge that can't be counted toward Eagle actually a merit badge? The Colonial Philadelphia Merit Badge could only be counted toward Eagle Palms. It was not a BSA badge but a Philadelphia Council badge. Only the Philadelphia Council could issue it. Only members of Philadelphia Council and possibly Valley Forge Council could earn it.

When the BSA authorized the Philadelphia Council to issue the Colonial Philadelphia badge, they did not change the wording of the rank requirements that require merit badges, but the Philadelphia Council was required to use wording in the description of the Colonial Philadelphia badge to say it could not be used toward rank advancement. I have heard stories of people who did use it toward rank advancement, but that was not authorized by the BSA. However, the BSA says that once a rank is granted, it should not be taken back. So, yes, the Colonial Philadelphia badge did count toward Eagle and other ranks, but that was not the intention when the BSA authorized the badge.

To me it is more like the Varsity Letter and Gold Bar Pins which may also be worn on the front of the Merit Badge Sash but don't count toward Eagle. It could be worn on the merit badge sash but it didn't count like other merit badges. Since it was restricted in so many ways, I will not include it in my other discussions other than as a curiosity.


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