Friday, April 22, 2005

During the summer of 1929, a 16-year old Walter J. Ong, Jr. and fourteen other Boy Scouts, most from Kansas City, attended the 1929 Boy Scout World Jamboree outside Birkenhead, England. The "Heart of America Troop," as they were known, was the only group from the United States to consist entirely of Eagle Scouts. On their way to and from the jamboree, they also visited a number of sites in North America and Europe. Ong served as the troops scribe and wrote 23 articles for the Kansas City Journal-Post. Among their many activities, the Heart of America Troop laid a bronze tablet at the grave of Field Marshall Earl Douglas Haig. The Jamboree file contains a wealth of items, many of which are on display in the exhibit.

Items on display include:

  • a scrapbook of newspaper articles about the Jamboree which Ong's aunt made (on loan from the Midwest Jesuit Archives),

  • a photograph of the troop before the US Capital building (on loan from the Midwest Jesuit Archives),

  • a photo of the troop in front of the steam ship they sailed on (on loan from the Midwest Jesuit Archives),

  • a 1979 Kansas City Star article about the Heart of America Troop's 50th year anniversary reunion,

  • Ong's travel diary, opened to the trip itinerary,

  • an English Tenderfoot badge, a French Scout badge, an English Efficiency Badge for Cooking, and an Arts Crafts Guild Travel Bureau badge,

  • stones from the grounds of Kenilworth Castle,

  • shot dug from trees at Belleau Wood (a WWI battlefield where the American Expeditionary Forces experienced their first heavy casualties),

  • Ong's certificate of attendance at the 1929 World Jamboree,

  • a newspaper picture of Ong that accompanied his last article,

  • and a picture of the troop after they laid the bronze tablet at Field Marshall Haig's grave (on loan from the Midwest Jesuit Archives).


Some items of note which are not on display include all 23 articles Ong wrote, a pamphlet about the Jamboree produced by The Times, a 1930 published booklet about the trip written by one of the scouts, and various maps and brochures Ong collected during the trip. The Midwest Jesuit Archives also have a number of pictures taken by one of Ong's troop members.

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