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 The Boy Scouts of America, 1910-2010 
The Early Decades of Boy Scouting in Nebraska  

O. B. Frazier was appointed scoutmaster of Troop 1 at McCool Junction, York County, on September 11, 1911, little more than a year after the Boy Scouts of America was founded. The appointment was signed by James West, the first executive secretary (later chief scout executive) of the BSA.
Source: Loaned by Cornhusker Council, Boy Scouts of America

Ted Barger wearing his
Boy Scout uniform.
Source: RG2877:PH570

Jacket, knickers, toiletry kit, and belt from the first decade of Boy Scouting in the United States. The uniform copied the U.S. Army uniform of 1910, including leggings (not shown here). These items, except for the knickers, belonged to Ted E. Barger, a Boy Scout from the McCook, Nebraska, area. The green stripe on the sleeve indicates that Barger had been a scout for at least one year.
Sources: 11188-1, 3, 5, Ted E. Barger, courtesy of Anne Barger Hein, Palos Verde Estates, California; Knickers loaned by Rick Wolzen, Lincoln

This patch signifying the rank of Second Class Scout would have been sewn in the middle of the left sleeve of Barger's uniform jacket. "Un-sewn" patches of this age are rare.
Source: 11188-1, Ted E. Barger, courtesy of Anne Barger Hein, Palos Verde Estates, California

Until 1943 all Boy Scouts and scoutmasters wore what has become known as the "Smokey Bear" hat.
Source: 7575-605, courtesy of Ralph E. Garner, Lincoln

2nd class scout badge List of Qualifications for a Second Class Scout
(from the 1911 Handbook for Boys)

  • At least one month's service as a Tenderfoot Scout
  • Know elementary first aid and bandaging
  • Know elementary signaling: semaphore, American Morse code, or Myer alphabet
  • Track half a mile in twenty-five minutes or if in town, describe the contents of one store window out of four observed for one minute each
  • Go a mile in twelve minutes at scout's pace, about fifty steps running and fifty walking, alternately
  • Use properly a knife or hatchet
  • Build a fire in the open using not more than two matches
  • Cook a quarter pound of meat and two potatoes in the open without using ordinary kitchen utensils
  • Earn and deposit at least one dollar in a public bank
  • Know the sixteen principal points of the compass


Boy Scouts from Ted Barger's era learned now-obsolete skills such as signaling ("wigwagging") in Morse code with a flag like this. The white flag with a red center was used when the signaler was standing in front of a dark background; a light background required a red flag with a white center. The "Pocket Signal Disk" has the Morse alphabet on one side and the semaphore alphabet on the other.
Sources: 11188-9, Ted E. Barger, courtesy of Anne Barger Hein, Palos Verde Estates, California; 3368-215, courtesy Charles M. Shepherd, Lincoln

Scouts also learned "semaphore-style" signaling using two half-red, half-white flags divided diagonally. The cover of the 1927 printing of the Handbook for Boys shows semaphore signaling.
Source: Loaned by Russ Votava, Lincoln
Photo: RG2183PH:1926-09-30:2 (scan 39414)

By 1922 the Boy Scouts of America had modernized the uniform, as shown here in 1926. A Lincoln Boy Scout was on hand when Vice-President Charles G. Dawes (fifth from left) arrived in the capital city on September 30. Governor Adam McMullen (fourth from left) and Gen. John G. Pershing (sixth from left), who had been visiting his sister in Lincoln, greeted the vice-president. Dawes and Pershing had become friends when both lived in Lincoln in the 1890s. During World War I Dawes was purchasing agent for Pershing's American army in France. The Lincoln meeting was a prelude to a week-long hunting trip by the two men in the Nebraska Sandhills.
Source: RG2183:PH1926-09-30:2

The original Lincoln Council, Boy Scouts of America, encompassed only the city of Lincoln, proper, in 1919.
Nearby communities such as Havelock, Bethany, and University Place that began as separate councils came under the Lincoln Council in the 1920s. By 1932 the Lincoln Council, now renamed the Cornhusker Area Council, had jurisdiction over scouting in fifty-five Nebraska counties covering some 39,000 square miles. In 1954 two new councils were created in central and western Nebraska, leaving sixteen southeastern Nebraska counties in today's Cornhusker Council.

Sash with sixty merit badges (pdf) earned by Arthur L. Smith Jr. of Troop 41, Lincoln, about 1930 to 1933. First Class Scouts were eligible for the badges, which were "intended to stimulate the scout's interest in the life about him, and are given for general knowledge" (Handbook for Boys, 1925).
Source: 11639-1, Arthur L. Smith Jr., courtesy of Judith Smith Wilson, Lincoln

When a scout satisfied the requirements for a merit badge, he also received a certificate provided by the BSA national office. The facsimile signature of Erwin H. Barbour, University of Nebraska geology professor and member of the Cornhusker Council Executive Board, appears on these certificates Arthur Smith Jr. received with his "cement work" and "sheep farming" merit badges.
Source: 11639, 27, 29, Arthur L. Smith Jr., courtesy of Judith Smith Wilson, Lincoln

Arthur Smith Jr., earned the rank of Eagle Scout and was entitled to wear this badge. Eagle rank, scouting's highest award, was established in 1911. The gold palm signifies that Smith had earned multiple merit badges.
Source: 11639-34, Arthur L. Smith Jr., courtesy of Judith Smith Wilson, Lincoln

Smith earned other awards including "High Point Scout" in 1929 and 1930 and first in "Discipline" in 1930.
Source: 11639-31, 32, 33, Arthur L. Smith Jr., courtesy of Judith Smith Wilson, Lincoln

Arthur Smith Jr. may have made this neckerchief to represent his rank of Eagle Scout. There is no evidence that it was an official Boy Scout item.
Source: 11639-36. Arthur L. Smith Jr., courtesy of Judith Smith Wilson, Lincoln



  The Founders

  Early Decades

  Service and Sacrifice

       William E. Green

  Post-War Scouting

       Philip Kelly

  Honor Societies

  Camps, Camping

  "New Look"

  Scouts Build Canoes

  Pinewood Derby

  Scouting Memorabilia


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Last updated 21 October 2010  

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