Back to School at FamilyEducation.com

100 Years of Girl Scouts

In 2012, the Girls Scouts of the USA celebrated their 100th anniversary.

by Jennie Wood

Two Girl Scouts with Juliette Gordon Low

Two Girl Scouts with Juliette Gordon Low (center)

Related Links

March 12, 2012, marked the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts. As of 2012, there were 2.3 million girl members, 900,000 adult volunteers, and more than 50 million Girl Scout alumnae. The numbers were astounding when compared to the organization's humble beginnings.

The idea of the organization came to Juliette Gordon Low, an American from Savannah, Ga., in 1911. Low was in England where she met Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. During her time in Great Britain, Low organized Girl Guide troops. On March 12, 1912, back in Savannah, she formed a Girl Guide troop with 18 girls.

A Century of Milestones

Low's goal was to get the girls out of their homes and expose them to many of the same opportunities and adventures boys their age experienced. She was also dedicated to promoting diversity, making sure that African-American, American-Indian, and Hispanic girls were welcomed as Girl Scouts. In the 1920s, the first Native-American Girl Scout Troop was founded in New York and a Mexican American troop was formed in Houston, Texas. Also in the 1920s, Girl Scout Troops on Foreign Soil (TOFS) was founded for American girls living abroad.

Another early focus of Girl Scouts was community service. In the 1930s, Girl Scouts collected food and clothing and worked in hospitals during the Great Depression. The first Girl Scout cookies were sold during the depression. Girl Scouts also contributed to the war effort during World War II, collecting over 1.5 million clothing items, operating bicycle courier services, and teaching survival skills to 10,000 women.

During the 1960s, the Girl Scouts National Board issued statements in support of civil rights. To fight racism, Girl Scout Speakout conferences were held throughout the country. In the 1980s, the Contemporary Issues publications began, helping girls confront serious issues such as suicide, drugs, and child abuse. In the next decade, Girl Scouts battled illiteracy, working with First Lady Barbara Bush on the Right to Read service project. Also during the 90s, Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, the first and only mother-daughter prison visitation program, was founded. In response to the September 11, 2001, attacks, Girls Scouts held remembrance ceremonies and performed a variety of community services.

Still Paving the Way

Nearly a 100 years after being established, Girl Scouts of America continues to find new ways to promote diversity in their organization. In the fall of 2011, a Colorado troop admitted a 7-year-old transgender. The action sparked controversy from within the organization. Three troop leaders in Louisiana resigned. One California teen launched a national Girl Scout cookie boycott in January 2012 over the incident. Girl Scouts of Colorado said in a statement, "If a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout."

In honor of the 100th anniversary, a new cookie was introduced. Savannah Smiles, a lemon wedge cookie, was named in honor of Juliette Gordon Low's hometown.

In March of 1912, Low started Girl Scouts of the USA to provide an outlet for girls as well as teach them courage, confidence, and character. Expanding into a global organization over the years, Girl Scouts has provided numerous community services while becoming a major voice against discrimination.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Did you know?
The largest country in the world is Russia, followed by Canada and the U.S.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

11 Coolest Lunch Boxes for Kids
Send your child's lunch to school in style! Check out our picks for the 11 best lunch boxes with great features from BPA-free accessories to spill-resistant fabric.

7 Important Back-to-School Safety Tips
Follow these back-to-school safety tips to make sure your child stays safe on the way to school, in the classroom, and while on the playground.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!