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Den Mother

For decades, the Den Mother was the only position a woman could hold in scouting.  As a Cub leader she was the backbone of the Cub Scout program.  But it didn't start that way.  In 1930 when Cubbing began, the original concept was to have a Boy Scout in charge of the Den.  His title was Den Chief.

First Den Mother's BadgeBy 1932, it was recognized that the Den Chief needed the assistance of an adult and the Den Mother became an official part of the program as a co-leader with the Den Chief.  By the mid-1930's, it was evident that dens with a Den Mother functioned much better than those with only a Den Chief.  In 1936, BSA approved the optional registration of Den Mothers.

In 1937, BSA issued the first Den Mother's Den Book.  And in 1938, the first Den Motherís badge was approved.


Second Den Mother's PinIn 1948, a number of changes were being implemented in the program.  All Den Mothers were now required to register in scouting and Cubbing became Cub Scouts.  With the change to Cub Scouts, the Den Mother badge was modified.  Both a dark blue and a light blue postition patch were made before the change in 1972.  It is not clear when each was made.

<  This ASSISTANT badge could be worn below a Den Mother position patch.

First Den Mother's Hat PinDen Mother's hat pin Pins were also made for the Den Mother's hat.  Unlike other scouting hats which usually had a diamond shaped patch for the hat, Den Mothers had a pin that was sewn on.  The sewn on pin differed from the regular pin by not having a pin on the back but by having circular loops on each side which made it possible to attach it to the Den Mother's hat.  (Tod Johnson provided me an image of the first type.)

Even after almost 20 years of Cub Scouting, the 1949 handbook still stated that the Den Mother "helps the Den Chief plan Den fun."  Not until the mid-1950s did the Den Mother officially assume full control of the den, with the Den Chief becoming the helper.  During this period, Philmont Cub Scouting courses were opened to women and the minimum age for Den Mothers was raised from 18 to 21.

Cub Lady Pin1967 marked the beginning of the transition from Den Mother to Den Leader.  However, the Den Mother badges would last until 1978.  In 1972, the Den Mother badge that had been used for so many years would change to a round badge like all the other Cub Scout position badges at that time.  At about the same time a new pin for all women was introduced.  It affectionately had the name of a "Cub Lady" pin.

Thrid Den Mother's Badge


Women's Expanded Role As Cub Scout Leaders

By 1973, women were allowed to serve in all Pack positions except Cubmaster and Webelos Den Leader and their assistants.  In 1976 women Cubmasters were permitted and in 1988 women were allowed to be Webelos Den Leaders, effectively removing all gender requirements for adult leadership roles in Cub Scouting.

Scouting Awards for Women

Prior to 1956, Den Mothers could earn the Scouterís Training award.  It was represented by an all green square knot on a khaki background and by a medal on a green ribbon.  The foreground of the medal was a tenderfoot symbol and the background of the medal was a "V" until 1946 and an "A" beginning that same year.  The "V" stood for the 5 years required to earn the award.  Beginning in 1946, the tenure was changed to 3 years.

Training Awards

Den Mother's Training Award
In 1956, the Den Mother's Training Award was introduced.   It was represented by a green and white square knot on a khaki background.  The ribbon of the new medal was white with a green stripe down the middle.  The medal was a tenderfoot symbol overlaid on a diamond.

In 1967, the Den Motherís Training Award changed its name to the Den Leaderís Training AwardDen Leader Coach Training Award since men could now be Den Leaders.  Also in 1967, a new award called the Den Leader Coach Training Award was introduced.  The new medal was the same as the Den Motherís Training Award medal except that the ribbon had two green stripes instead of one.  The knot was the same as the Den Mother's (Leader's) Training Award.

In 1970, the all green square knot was reintroduced Den Leader's Training Awardfor all training awards but now there was in addition to the khaki background, a green square knot on a blue background which could be worn; either was acceptable.

In late 1975, the Den Leader Training Award knot was introduced with a yellow knot on a blue background and the Cub Scout Training AwardsDen Leader Coach Training Award knot was introduced with a blue and yellow knot on a blue background.  The Den Leaderís Training Award knot is the same knot being used today in Cub Scouts but beginning in 1988 it became the Den Leaderís Award and the small medal was discontinued in favor of a neck ribbon which was available until about 2000, when they were not restocked by National Supply.  The Den Leader Coach Training Award knot became the Cub Scouterís knot in 1988 and a new knot was introduced for the Den Leader Coach Award knot.  The new knot was an all blue square knot on a blue background and the small medal was discontinued in favor of a neck ribbon.  The Den Leader Coach Award was discontinued in 2001.  (In 1988, the requirements for both of these awards were significantly changed and the word "training" was dropped from their names.)

The Silver Fawn award was introduced for women contributing at the council level in 1971.  Silver Fawn MedalThis award lasted through the middle of 1974 when it was dropped in favor of using the existing Silver Beaver award that up until the middle of 1974 had only been awarded to men.  The knot used to represent this award was the blue and white knot used to represent the Silver Bearer award.  It is my understanding that some women would wear the Sea Scout knot as the background matched their uniform.

Knot used for Silve Fawn awardKnot used for Silve Fawn award

This is not an official site of the Boy Scouts of America.  The rank badges are scanned images of Craig Murray's collection and the scanned images are copyright.  You are welcome to print these pages for your reference.  However, if you would like to use the images in any other manner, you must receive permission from Craig Murray.