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rayezell_2000

First Female Scoutmaster in Virginia in 1911..?

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The April 14, 1911 edition of the Staunton Dispatch-News (Staunton, Virginia) ascribed a unique status onto a local young woman by the name of Josephine B. Timberlake. Ms. Timberlake was heralded as the organizer of the first Scout troop in the city and noted as the first (and only) female troop organizer in the Commonwealth of Virginia and possibly the nation.   Keep Reading Here...

Are there other examples of female Scoutmasters or Assistant Scoutmasters from the first decade of American Scouting?

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Edited by rayezell_2000
mistake
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Found that article you cited very interesting. Here is an excerpt. 

The Second Annual Report of the BSA enumerated the demographics of Scoutmasters associated with the new youth movement in 1912. A total of 1500 Scoutmasters were enumerated in this document, and among them; 463 were clergymen, 184 were school teachers/superintendents, 150 clerks, and 105 were mechanics. Lower numbers of lawyers, students, and managers were also enumerated. Ms. Timberlake (although a female) fit within school teacher category.

The 1911 edition of the Boy Scouts Handbook describes a Scoutmaster as;

…the adult leader of a troop, and must be at least twenty-one years of age. He should have a deep interest in boys, be genuine in his own life, have the ability to lead, and command the boys’ respect and obedience. He need not be an expert at scoutcraft; a good scout master will discover experts for the various activities. His certificate is granted upon the recommendation of the local council. An assistant scout master should be eighteen years of age or over. His certificate is granted by the National Council upon the recommendation of the scout master of his troop and the local council.

Obviously, the expectation of the BSA was that men were best suited and were encouraged to become Scoutmasters. The 1913 Scout Master’s Manual in enumerating the duties of the local Scout Commissioner, describes one of the Commissioner’s duties as investigating all applications for Scoutmaster’s certificates (commissions), and ensuring that Scoutmaster commissions are issued to “men (emphasis added) of good character” and who have a good reputation in the community. The manual goes on to describe that “a man may apply for a commission as Scout Master.” A prospective Scoutmaster was required to submit a completed application to the local Scout Commissioner, or in the event that there was no local council (as in the case of much of central Virginia at this time), the application was submitted to Boy Scout headquarters in New York City for consideration by the National Council. However, there doesn’t appear to be an explicit requirement that women were to be barred from consideration as Scoutmasters–although it was certainly implied.

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I seem to remember a few vague references in Rowan's biography of James West that suggested that women were explicitly barred from SM service, but the allusions were not clear (at least to me). Seems that Rowan was basing the supposition on the force of West's personality (which was formidable). During the first formative years of the movement, it was more akin to the wild west with much less structure and a real divergence of means and methods only loosly controlled by the HQ in New York. So the occurence of de facto female SMs shouldn't be too surprising, and may be much more frequent that most expect. I do have from this same city a much more definitive example of a female who served for many years as an "official" ASM and for 1 year as official SM. she made such an impact on the unit, that they presented her with an engraved medal commemorating her leadership of the unit. Trying to track down a photo of the medal if it still exists in the family...unfortunately she died without children.

I found it interesting that the commissioner was responsible for vetting (in a real way) any potential SMs. I have contacted the Scouting Museum to try and locate a copy of an early SM application for commission, but they dont apparently have one in their archives. It would be interesting to see the exact wording that the form employs.

 

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Nice article!

It's a credit to the organization that they'd have a female scoutmaster just a scant year after BSA was founded.

 

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