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Silent film cowboy star Fred Thomson and his horse Silver King demonstrate for Boy Scouts how to use a first aid kit in 1926. Photo courtesy of Johnson & Johnson Archives
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Badge of Safety: The Story Behind Boy Scout First Aid Kits
The Boy Scouts of America were incorporated on February 8, 1910. To help scouts learn the merits of emergency medical assistance, Johnson & Johnson created custom first aid kits for troops.

Johnson & Johnson started producing first aid kits in 1888 for railroad workers who needed quick and easy access to basic medical supplies. Over time, the company manufactured bespoke kits for everyone from factory workers to soldiers—and even the Boy Scouts of America.

The original 1925 Boy Scout first aid kits were pretty basic: They included a triangular bandage that could be fashioned into a sling, a compress and two safety pins that were packaged in a simple cardboard container.

In 1926, the scouts even had silent film star Fred Thomson and his famous horse Silver King demonstrate how to use the kits.

“A few years later, a more sophisticated version of the kits was introduced, containing burn and antibiotic creams, first aid instructions and several different kinds of bandages," says Margaret Gurowitz Margaret GurowitzChief Historian, Johnson & Johnson, Johnson & Johnson’s in-house historian. “These tin kits could be attached to belt loops—making them practical for camping and hiking.”

By 1932, the company was also producing first aid kits for Girl Scouts—so everyone could earn their first aid merit badges.

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