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Researching Troop, Council, and Eagle Scout histories?


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#1 BSMet94

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 06:22 PM

My son and I are trying to research information related to my grandfather and his involvement in Scouting.  We are wondering if there are any sources to find out dates of Troop charters, Council organization, and Eagle Scout awards.  

 

I wish I had had more conversations with him about Scouting when he was alive, but hindsight is 20/20.  We have been piecing together information from newspaper clippings.  A 1964 article covering his Silver Beaver award stated that he became a Boy Scout in 1917, earned Eagle Scout in 1922, and later went on to be a Scoutmaster.  Another article from the 1960s mentioned his participation in a Court of Honor for Eagle Scouts, and it noted he was the second Eagle Scout in the State of Montana, and further noted another attendee as having been the first Eagle Scout in the state.  But there's a huge inconsistency here, because the other fellow was later given the Distinguished Eagle Scout award, and on the list of DES recipients that is online, there's a ('27) behind his name.  No way could he have been the first, if my grandfather received Eagle Scout in '22.  We also found some clippings of Eagle Scout achievements in Montana from as early as 1921, pre-dating our 1922 date.  Do I have any chance of finding any BSA documentation this old?  My grandfather's troop is long since defunct, and pre-dates the early councils in Montana anyway.

 

Thanks in advance!


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#2 qwazse

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 11:48 AM

First step: call the headquarters of each council around where your grandfather grew up. Explain what you're doing and ask them how far back their archives go. Ask if they have anyone who keeps track of scouting history in their area.

 

Good luck. It will take some gumshoe, but should be lots of fun.


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#3 clemlaw

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 01:11 PM

NESA has a database of all Eagles, and includes their troop number, council, and EBOR date.  (The council always appears to be the modern successor, so might not be accurate).

 

Recently, NESA changed how you log into their site to get this information, and I have yet to figure out how to access the site.  As far as I could tell, the information was available only to NESA members.  Again, I'm not sure of the exact status, since I can't get there.  I suspect that if it's a one-time request for information, you could just call NESA and they would be able to tell you.

 

Also, Eagle Scouts were listed in Boys' Life in the 1910's, but I'm not sure if that continued into the 1920's.  If your grandfather had an unusual name, then it might be fruitful to search for it at books.google.com.  If he had a common name, then you might need to narrow it down by adding search terms such as "Boys Life" or "Eagle Scout."


Edited by clemlaw, 10 November 2016 - 01:14 PM.

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#4 BSMet94

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 01:32 PM

Thanks for the suggestions!  We are going to contact the current council and see if they have records or any historians that are keeping track.  I had not thought about Boy's Life... great idea!


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#5 clemlaw

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 12:42 PM

I did jump through the hoops to re-register, and the Eagle Scout search is now at this site:

 

http://network.scoutingalumni.org/

 

You do need to create an account at that site, but the good news is that it doesn't look like you need to be a NESA member.

 

The bad news is that the search now reveals less information than it did previously.  In particular, it does not show the date they became Eagle.  It shows the Region where they got Eagle, but not the Council (although the Council information was often inaccurate, due to mergers over the years.)  It shows the troop number and city of their Eagle troop, although that information is only shown on the search results screen, and not on the profile when you click on a search result.

 

The search results used to show a current address, which was often inaccurate, but that now appears only if the person has created an online profile.  Even though it was often wrong, it was helpful, because it would in many cases show the last known address for someone who is long since deceased.

 

Since the Eagle Date used to be shown, presumably NESA has this information, so calling them and asking nicely might be the best bet.  But with the online site, you can now at least confirm that someone was an Eagle and which troop they were in.


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#6 desertrat77

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 06:22 PM

@clemlaw, thanks for the info re the website, and thanks to all for the interesting discussion.

 

I went to the scouting alum link, and registered as a Hiker (freebie route; Pathfinder is 35 dollars per year).

 

Here's what I found.

 

I'm a life member of NESA, and it looks like the data transition from NESA to the central scouting alum website may have been a big clunky.   I searched and found my name in the Eagle website, but my middle initial was incorrect.  

 

Elsewhere, my Eagle troop was one digit off.

 

If you find errors in your profile, many can be self corrected.   Some must be fixed by National, and they have a phone number to call (normal business hours).

 

The website aside, I've found that the BSA as a whole does a very poor job when it comes to history and record keeping.   My first experience along these lines happened years ago.

 

I earned Eagle in '77, and weeks after the board of review, we moved.   I didn't get back any of the Eagle paperwork, letters of recommendation, etc.

 

No problem, National okay'd me and I received my Eagle certificate at my new location.

 

So I join the military seven years later, and my first duty station is in the same town where I earned Eagle.   I drop in the council office and ask if there is a chance they still have my paperwork, or at least a file.

 

They were nice but frank with me.  Normally, there would have been a high probability they would have had my stuff.  But someone made the decision a year or two previous to toss out a bunch of records, decades worth, Eagle and otherwise.  It was a local decision and reading between the lines, they threw away more than they probably should have.

 

I didn't expect them to hang on to my paperwork in the off chance I'd stop by some day, I realize that a business can only keep so many records.   Nonetheless, in my scouting experience since then, I've noticed that institutional memory in the BSA is very scant--digital, paper, what have you.   I don't think there is a enterprise-level plan.


Edited by desertrat77, 12 November 2016 - 06:40 PM.

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