Courts of Honor
A court of honor is a long time tradition in Scouting. Today, a court of honor is generally proceeded by a board of review to insure that the Scout knows the material. This is usually done at the troop level. It used to be different.
In the 1920s and through a good portion of the 1930s, the Court of Honor was a Council-wide activity AND it incorporated the board of review, all in one shot. In the 1920s, the court met quarterly, usually at the Chamber of Commerce building where the Scout office was, and usually on a Tuesday. Starting in 1927, a special session was held at Boxwell. In the 1930s, the Courts became monthly and Boxwell became a regular location during the summer months. Parents and the general public were invited.
At first, the Court consisted of a board of adults, often with important public figures participating. Governors and the Nashville mayors were regular members, though they did not always attend. While the date is sketchy (evidence points to 1928, 1932, or 1934 as a start date), a Junior Court of Honor was instituted to help with the growing numbers of awards. This board was run by Eagle Scouts, who would serve as examiners and reviewers. The junior court approved the award, be it a merit badge or rank, while the “senior” Court made the award official. Interestingly, the Junior Court was initially challenged by the national council. After an investigation, the Nashville plan was approved, making it the only council in the nation to implement such a scheme.
The evidence suggests that both the Junior court and the Senior Court ended when Ward Akers arrived, becoming more decentralized and with the troop. These Council wide events were replaced with the annual Eagle Banquet, which continues to this day.
Leland Johnson and Wilbur F. Creighton, Boys Will Be Men: Middle Tennessee Scouting Since 1910, Middle Tennessee Council: Nashville, TN, 1983, pgs. 48-49.
“Scout Honor Court To Meet on Tuesday,” Nashville Tennessean, July 23, 1923, pg. 8.
“Honor Court Meeting,” Nashville Tennessean, April 19, 1932, pg. 10.
“First Court Held at Camp Boxwell,” Nashville Tennessean, July 17, 1931, pg. 2.
“Nashville Scouts’ Junior Honor Court Unique in U.S.,” Nashville Tennessean, November 18, 1945, pg. A8
“Nashville Boy Scots Presented Awards at Senior Court of Honor,” Nashville Banner, February 10, 1940, pg. 3