The highest honor awarded by the Girl Scouts, currently named the Gold Award, was once named the Golden Eaglet (1919-1939). To earn this award, the girls had to demonstrate proficiency in 21 diverse subjects ranging from nature studies to athletics to homemaker activities. To become a Golden Eaglet, you had to:
- Be a First Class Girl Scout.
- Hold a Letter of Commendation (also known as the Medal of Merit, 1922-1926).
- Be a registered Girl Scout at least three years.
Hold 15 specified merit badges plus six additional of candidate’s own choice. The required 15 had to be (1919-1926): Athlete, Bird Hunter or Flower Finder or Zoologist; Child Nurse, Citizen, Cook, Dressmaker, Economist, First Aide, Health Guardian, Health Winner, Homemaker, Home Nurse, Hostess, Laundress, and Pioneer.
On Saturday, February 9, 1924, the Golden Eaglet awards were presented to Edna Karston of Troop 18 and Elizabeth Skeen of Troop 2, in the Chamber of Commerce Assembly Hall at 3 o’clock. From the Atlanta Constitution:
“The badges were presented by Miss Dorris Hough, regional director of the southern states, who made a special trip to Atlanta for this occasion. The picture on the left is of Elizabeth Skeen and the one on the right is of Edna Karston.”
Mary Elizabeth Skeen (Mrs. Thomas Wiley Dawsey) was born on February 4, 1910, in Tifton, Georgia, and was the daughter of Lola Percy Skeen and Rebecca Baldwin Skeen. She later attended Agnes Scott College from 1928-1932, graduating with a B.A. in English, cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She began work in 1935 on a Master’s degree in Political Science at the University of Chicago, and then married Thomas Wiley Dawsey on July 4, 1936, had a family, and moved to many places in the United States. She died on August 10, 2008, and is buried in Westview Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia.
Edna Karston (Mrs. Lester Earl Bush) later married and had a family. We are in the process of learning more about her life after Girl Scouts and will post the details when we receive them.
Note: Before the Golden Eaglet, the highest Scout award was the Silver Fish (1912–1916), but this was technically a Girl Guiding award and no American girl ever earned it. The next was called the Golden Eagle of Merit (1916–1919). However, the charter for the Atlanta Girl Scout Council was signed by Juliette Low on August 5, 1921, two years after the Golden Eaglet became the highest award.