Officially, the Golden Eaglet Award was the highest rank of Girl Scouting from 1919 through 1939.
(Personally, I don't agree with that sentence. I believe that what we think of as the Golden Eagle of Merit (1916-1919) was always called the Golden Eaglet. I have laid out my arguments for this belief on the webpage Golden Eagle of Merit???)
However, this webpage is devoted to the Golden Eaglet from 1919-1939.
In January of 1919 the national headquarters of Girl Scouting announced a new handbook would be ready around May 1919, with a change in the Golden Eaglet requirements.
Girl Scouting was honored to have famed artist Laura Cardin-Fraser accept the challenge of re-designing the highest honor of Girl Scouting.
In October of 1919, the Golden Eaglet was ready. This led to some interesting events. At least one Girl Scout, Octavia Sheldon, postponed her "pinning" so that she would be given the new pin design.
The requirements varied over the years from simply earning 14 of 17 specific badges to later requirements that included earning the Medal of Merit.
In later years the number of badges was altered and a letter of Commendation was allowed in place of the Medal of Merit. A special form was used to apply for the award from the National Headquarters.
According to the Girl Scout Collector's Guide, Juliette Low once wrote that: the five requirements for winning the Golden Eaglet are:
and that others will expect to find in our Golden Eaglets a perfect specimen of girlhood: mentally, morally and physically.
Gail C Schrader sent in this great image of the three Golden Eaglet sizes side-by-side
1919 - 1929 pin is gold filled and measures about 1 1/8" by 1 1/8".
1930 - 1933 - changed to 10k.
1934 - 1939 pin is 10k and measures about 7/8" by 7/8".
1929 - 1939 miniature pin was briefly gold filled then changed to 10k, measures 1/2" by 1/2". Meant for non-uniform wear.
Lines to a Golden Eaglet
I would wish you the range of the eaglet’s eye
The strength of his wings that your spirit may fly
Over all of life’s turmoil - your purpose held high.
I would wish you the courage to walk unafraid
Wearing proudly the symbol of your accolade.
Birdsall Otis Edey
Here's one of the interesting events that happened in the early days of Girl Scouting. The article on the left is from May 1919, when Sir Baden-Powell, while visiting Washington DC, presented Juliette Low and 8 other captains and Girl Scouts with Golden Eaglets.
Then in October 1919, when Queen Elizabeth of Belgium was visiting Washington DC - she to spent some time presenting Golden Eaglets to Girl Scouts.
The problem is - some names appear on both lists! Other names are from girls who received their Golden Eaglets in 1917 or 1918.
The answer appears at the end of a 1919 article about the very first Girl Scout to earn the Golden Eaglet, Delia Damon. It seems that the Queen of Belgium was "re-issuing" the Golden Eaglets!
The new pins were apparently preferred?
This article is worth the read. Delia, at 16, was already working at the local mill.
...To get her dairymaid's merit badge she got up every morning at 4 o'clock, rode a bicycle four miles to a farm on the outskirts of the town, milked a herd of cows, and then rode to the mill to start her day's work...