Eagle Scout History
The Scouts BSA’s highest award was originally conceived as the Wolf Scout, described in the June 1911 Official Handbook for Boys. The August 1911 version of the handbook changed this to Eagle Scout. The medal illustrated in the handbook was a profile of an eagle in flight, but was changed to the current design before any were issued. In their original conceptions, Life Scout, Star Scout (Life preceded Star until 1924) and Eagle Scout were not ranks, but part of the merit badge system that recognized Scouts who had earned a specified number of merit badges. Eagle Scout was awarded to any First Class Scout who had earned 21 merit badges.
The first Eagle Scout medal was awarded in 1912 to Arthur Rose Eldred, a 17-year-old member of Troop 1 of Rockville Centre, Long Island, New York. Records show that not only the national officers sat on Eldred’s Board of Review, but also included Lord Baden-Powell, who just arrived in the United States earlier in the day of January 31, 1912. Eldred was notified that he was to be awarded the rank of Eagle Scout in a letter from Chief Scout Executive James West, dated August 21, 1912. The design of the Eagle Scout medal had not been finalized by the National Council, so the medal was not awarded until Labor Day, September 2, 1912. Eldred was the first of three generations of Eagle Scouts; his son and grandson hold the rank as well. In the 1960s, the Kansas City area awarded more Eagle Scout badges than any other council in the country, resulting in the creation of the Eagle Scout Memorial there in 1968. In 1982, 13-year-old Alexander Holsinger of Normal, Illinois, was recognized as the one-millionth Eagle Scout, and Anthony Thomas of Lakeville, Minnesota, was the two-millionth in 2009.
Hamilton Bradley of Rome, New York is the earliest known Black Eagle Scout in BSA history. His Eagle Scout court of honor was held at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 19, 1919, at the Rome Free Academy, according to Rome Daily Sentinel records from the time.
On October 11, 2017, Boy Scouts of America announced they would begin a program to include girls in the Boy Scout program beginning in 2019. In February 2019, the first girls joined the renamed Scouts BSA program. In 2020, the first female Eagle Scouts were added to the Boy Scouts of America. On February 8th of 2021, nearly 1,000 female scouts became members of the Inaugural Class of Female Eagle Scouts. Their induction came after the admission of female scouts into the Scouts BSA program in 2019, and to date over 31,000 female scouts have joined the program. Members of the Inaugural Class were commemorated in a special edition of Scout Life magazine; the publication formerly known as Boys’ Life.
To recognize valuable service of an exceptional nature by a Scout to a religious institution, a school, a community, or another entity while doing his or her Eagle Scout service project.
Who Can Earn This Award?
Presented to select Eagle Scouts based on their Eagle Scout service project.
How to Get the Award
An Eagle Scout, his or her parents, or any registered BSA volunteer (with the Eagle Scout’s permission) may submit the Eagle Scout service project for consideration by filling out the nomination form found at NESA.org.