Girl Scout History | Girl Scouts (2024)

From 18 girls in Savannah to a global movement to make a difference.

Blazing trails and redefining what’s possible for girls everywhere? Girl Scouts have been true to this since 1912.

Juliette Gordon Low—also known widely by her nickname, “Daisy”—started Girl Scouts in 1912 in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia. The first troop was made up of 18 girls who all shared a sense of curiosity and a belief that they could do anything.

At a time when women in the United States couldn’t yet vote and were expected to stick to strict social norms, encouraging girls to embrace their unique strengths and create their own opportunities was game-changing. That small gathering of girls over 100 years ago ignited a movement across America where every girl could unlock her full potential, find lifelong friends, and make the world a better place.

Learn more about Girl Scouts’ trailblazing founder and explore Girl Scouts’ impact throughout American history.

American President Theodore Roosevelt presents a family silver plate to Girl Scouts to be melted down for cash for the WWI war effort, 1918.

A meeting in 1911 with Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, inspired Juliette Gordon Low to establish Girl Scouts the following year. In a time of cultural change—but before women had the right to vote—Girl Scouts emphasized inclusiveness, the outdoors, self-reliance, and service.

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) 1926 World Conference, Great Hall, Camp Edith Macy, New York.

The first Girl Scout troops were launched outside the United States in China, Syria, and Mexico. Additionally, one of the earliest Native American Girl Scout troops formed on the Onondaga Reservation in New York State in 1921, and Mexican American girls formed a Girl Scout troop in Houston, Texas, in 1922. Lone Troops on Foreign Soil (later called USA Girl Scouts Overseas) registered its first Girl Scout troop in Shanghai, China, with 18 girls in 1925.

Promotional booklet, "Who Are the Girl Scouts?," published by Girl Scouts Inc., circa 1933.

Throughout the Great Depression, Girl Scouts participated in relief efforts by collecting clothing and food for those in need. To meet the needs of the waves of new immigrants, Girl Scouts began printing its "Who Are the Girl Scouts?" promotional booklet in Yiddish, Italian, and Polish.

Girl Scouts present President Franklin Delano Roosevelt with a checklist documenting service hours, March 12, 1944.

During World War II, Girl Scout troops operated bicycle courier services, ran Farm Aide projects, collected fat and scrap metal, and grew Victory Gardens, as well as sponsored Defense Institutes that taught women survival skills and techniques for comforting children during air raids. Japanese American girls, confined to internment camps in Utah and California, also established troops.

Central Los Angeles Girl Scouts prepare “Kits for Korea,” 1954.

Girl Scouts responded to the Korean War by assembling “Kits for Korea,” pouches of items needed by Korean citizens. They also continued to push for inclusiveness and equality, with Ebony magazine reporting in 1952 that even in the South, ". . . Scouts were making slow and steady progress toward surmounting the racial barriers of the region."

Girl Scout Seniors at a Speak Out conference, 1960s.

Girl Scouts held Speak Out conferences around the country to lend their voices to the fight for racial equality; launched the "ACTION 70" project to help overcome prejudice and build better relationships between people; and viewed the Apollo 12 moon landing at Cape Kennedy, Florida, as guests of NASA.

Girl Scout Cadettes, Earth Day, 1970.

Girl Scouts elected its first African American national board president, Gloria D. Scott; stood up for environmental issues by launching the national "Eco-Action" program; and helped Vietnamese refugee children adapt to their new homes in America.

Girl Scout Daisies at a playground, circa 1984.

Interest in Girl Scouting expanded, and Girl Scouts established the Daisy level for kindergarten-aged girls. The highest award a Senior or Ambassador Girl Scout can earn was renamed the Gold Award in 1980. Troops also distributed The Contemporary Issues series that addressed some of the most serious issues teen girls of the day were confronting, including drug use, child abuse, and teen pregnancy.

The website for Girl Scouts of the USA debuts on February 1, 1996. The site is visited by more than 18,000 people in its first three months of operation.

As the use of personal computers grew, Girl Scouts introduced the Technology badge for Girl Scout Juniors, while also tackling illiteracy with the Right to Read service project, which nearly 4 million Girl Scouts and leaders participated in.

Girl Scouts in San Antonio, Texas, at the 2002 National Conference on Latinas in Girl Scouting.

Girl Scouts entered the first decade of the new millennium focused on the healthy development of girls, establishing the Girl Scout Research Institute to conduct studies and report findings. We also continued to emphasize inclusiveness by hosting a National Conference on Latinas in Girl Scouting and, in 2005, electing the first Hispanic or Latino/a/e woman as chair of the National Board, Patricia Diaz Dennis.

Girl Scouts enjoy summer camp in eastern Pennsylvania, 2015.

Girl Scouts turned 100, celebrating its centennial on March 12, 2012. In 2014, Girl Scouts launched Digital Cookie, through which Girl Scout Cookies were sold online by girls for the first time in the history of the iconic cookie program. Girl Scout programming also expands to include more STEM subjects, including robotics and space science badges.

Girl Scouts participate in a track and field activity, present day.

Even as technology plays a larger and larger role in Americans’ lives, Girl Scouts also stay connected to nature and the great outdoors. So, while Girl Scouts introduced new badges to promote outdoor activities, girls can also earn STEM badges that prepare them for the future.




Girl Scout History | Girl Scouts (26)

Girl Scout History | Girl Scouts (2024)


Girl Scout History | Girl Scouts? ›

Girl Scouting

Girl Scouting
The stated mission of the Girl Scouts is to "[build] girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place" through activities involving camping, community service, and practical skills such as first aid. Members can earn badges by completing certain tasks and mastering skills. › wiki › Girl_Scouts_of_the_USA
builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Founder Juliette Gordon Low
Juliette Gordon Low
Juliette Gordon Low (1860–1927), also affectionately known by her nickname “Daisy,” founded Girl Scouts of the USA in 1912. She imagined a movement where all girls could come together and embrace their unique strengths and passions—and as Girl Scouts has done since, she made that dream a reality. › history › juliette-gordon-low
organized the first Girl Scout troop on March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia
. Girl Scouts
Girl Scouts
Girl Scouts devote more than 1 million hours annually to making the world a better place. Each year, around 3,300 Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, our highest award. Girl Scouts earn 3.8 million badges annually, all while gaining important life skills and confidence in the outdoors, STEM, and entrepreneurship. › gsusa › GSUSA__FactsAndFigures
of the USA was chartered by the US Congress on March 16, 1950.

What is the origin of Girl Scouts? ›

Juliette Gordon Low (1860–1927), also affectionately known by her nickname “Daisy,” founded Girl Scouts of the USA in 1912. She imagined a movement where all girls could come together and embrace their unique strengths and passions—and as Girl Scouts has done since, she made that dream a reality.

Who was the girl that started Girl Scouts? ›

Juliette Gordon Low—also known widely by her nickname, “Daisy”—started Girl Scouts in 1912 in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia. The first troop was made up of 18 girls who all shared a sense of curiosity and a belief that they could do anything.

Did Juliette Gordon Low have kids? ›

These visits gave her support and comfort as she struggled with an increasingly unhappy marriage. After her husband's death in 1905, Juliette Gordon Low felt a great sadness. Her marriage had failed and she had no children.

How did Juliette Low become deaf? ›

She lost a great deal of hearing in one ear after an infection was treated with silver nitrate at the age of 25. A year later she would lose hearing completely in the other ear due to an infection from getting a grain of rice thrown at a wedding lodged in her ear.

How religious is Girl Scouts? ›

Everything in Girl Scouting is based on the Girl Scout Promise and Law, which includes many of the principles and values common to most faiths. So, while we're a secular organization, Girl Scouts has encouraged girls to take spiritual journeys via their faiths' religious recognitions since we were founded in 1912.

Which came first Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts? ›

The Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910 by newspaper publisher W.D. Boyce, who soon after handed the reins to James E. West. The Girl Scouts were founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912.

What are some fun facts about Girl Scouts? ›

The majority of women NASA astronauts are Girl Scout alums. Three out of three women who have served as U.S. Secretary of State are Girl Scout or Girl Guide alums. Nearly 700,000 cookie entrepreneurs participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program®—the largest girl-run entrepreneurship program in the world—each year.

What celebrity was a Girl Scout? ›

Gwyneth Paltrow

Like her mother, Blythe Danner, the actress and Goop founder was a Girl Scout while growing up in New York City.

Who was the first black Girl Scout? ›

1924 Josephine Holloway becomes the first Black Girl Scout leader. Americans south of the Mason-Dixon line.

How old was Juliette Gordon when she died? ›

Gordon Low died in Savannah on January 17, 1927, at the age of 66. An honor guard of Girl Scouts escorted her casket to her funeral at Christ Church the next day.

What is the motto of the Girl Scouts? ›

Motto: The Girl Scout motto is "Be prepared." In the 1947 Girl Scout Handbook, the motto was explained this way: "A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency." The same holds true today.

Who is the CEO of Girl Scouts? ›

Executive Team

As CEO, Bonnie Barczykowski partners with the national staff and Board of Directors to lead this 2.6 million-member organization.

Why did Juliette Low sell her pearls? ›

Shortly after Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts of the USA in 1912, she sold her extremely valuable necklace of rare pearls to support the organization. She wanted to ensure that Girl Scouts would help girls discover, lead and make the world better for generations to come.

What were Girl Scouts originally called? ›

Girl Guides of America

Juliette Gordon Low (center), with two Girl Scouts. Girl Scouting in the United States began on March 12, 1912, when founder Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Guide troop meeting in Savannah, Georgia.

What are three interesting facts about Juliette Gordon Low? ›

Low has been awarded numerous posthumous awards. She has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her birthplace has also been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Who started Scouts and why? ›

Scouting began as a programme for boys aged 11 to 18. 1907: The first experimental camp organised by Robert Baden-Powell with 20 boys at Brownsea Island, United Kingdom was a great success. 1908: Baden-Powell published “Scouting for Boys”, which was an immediate hit and has since sold over 100 million copies.

Why are they called scouting for girls? ›

Their name is a play on the title of the 1908 Scouting handbook Scouting for Boys.

What is the original Girl Scout law? ›

The Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.

What are the beliefs of the Girl Scouts? ›

The Girl Scout Movement is a secular, values-based organization founded on democratic principles, including freedom of religion. We do not attempt to dictate the form or style of a member's worship. We believe that faith is a private matter for girls and their families to address.

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