October is Georgia Archives Month! During this month we celebrate the value of Georgia’s historical records, share how they enrich our lives, and acknowledge the people who preserve and maintain them, such as those of us here on the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta History and Archives Committee!
Our committee is comprised completely of volunteers- adults and older Girl Scouts- who understand how important it is to keep a detailed record and collection of Atlanta’s Girl Scouting past.* We want Girl Scouts of today to feel connected to the Girl Scouts of yesterday and realize just where it is that they come from. “Honor the Past, Celebrate the Future” and “Girl Scouts Make History” are our mottoes here at the GSGATL Archives. Juliette Gordon Low herself understood how important our past is to our future when she said, “The work of today is the history of tomorrow and we are its makers.”
Juliette’s birthday, October 31st, is known as Founder’s Day. There is a display currently up at the Switzer Library’s (formerly Central Library) Georgia Room in Marietta, Georgia that celebrates Georgia Archives Month and Girl Scouts together! If you’re in the Marietta area, swing by and take a look! Learn a little about the history of Cobb County and Greater Atlanta Girl Scouting and see some of the items that the Georgia Room has in its collection. The display will be up until November 1st.
*If you are interested in volunteering in the GSGATL Archives or donating any materials to us, please contact us at GirlScoutArchivesAtlanta@gmail.com! We always appreciate any help and can’t wait to hear from you!
The History/Archives Committee were well-represented today at the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta’s 100th Anniversary Kickoff for Alumnae event. The event was co-hosted by the UPS Women’s Leadership Development and Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta (GSGATL) Alumnae Association. GSUSA defines Girl Scout alumnae as women who were Girl Scouts (including Brownies) as girl, and/or adult members ages 18 and up, including current and former volunteers and staff. The GSGATL Alumnae association held this event to invite all former Girl Scouts to “Be Counted! Get Connected!” during 2012.
We listened to a great event introduction by Marilyn Midyette, Council CEO. The next part of the program featured current Girl Scouts who were invited to share their thoughts about their experiences. TaMara Powell is one of our History/Archives volunteers, and her daughter Chloe was the first young lady who came to the stage to talk about her experiences in the current scouting program. She did an amazing job and it was a pleasure to hear her speak.
Attendees also learned ways to volunteer in short-term projects, such as helping with upcoming 100th Anniversary events, or volunteer in long-term projects, such as joining related alumnae groups, like the Gold Award Alliance, the Trefoil Guild, and the History/Archives Committee. We have many members on the History/Archives Committee who are also members of these other committees, and it is great to have such a wealth of knowledge just a phone call (or email) away. Mary Ann Milton, for example, came to the stage to speak about the Trefoil Guild, but she is also an active History/Archives committee member.
The Archives Committee had a table outside the lecture hall to display a small sampling of what is available at the Mableton location. We had a great time showing everyone what we had and were available for a wide range of questions. Most of the attendees came to the table saying, “I remember that!’ or “I had that!” It was fun to speak with them about their own personal collections and to find out their stories. Two of our committee members also wore historic uniforms, and were asked every few minutes if someone could take their picture. Joyce Overcash-Dudley wore a Mariners uniform representing all the girls who used to be in a naval Girl Scout program (including herself as a younger Girl Scout). Sue Belden wore one of our original uniforms, dated 1914-1928, from the Archives collection.
We were most excited about being able to speak directly to more leaders about the opportunities to work with the girls. With the new badge, “Girl Scout Way,” in all the handbooks–Daisies through Ambassadors–we have a great connection with the girls (and leaders) in learning more about Girl Scout history. We are also developing programs for the girls to come in and earn some service hours while helping to preserve and make accessible our history.
Lots of memories were shared, and we encouraged everyone to sign up to get more information about the Archives and all of our activities. We told attendees about the blog, Facebook, and Twitter feeds, and even met a few who already subscribe to the various lists. It was a great experience to speak with all who came to the table, and look forward to working with many more volunteers in the future!
Many thanks to the committee members who attended today: Sue Belden, Mary Ann Milton, Joyce Overcash-Dudley, Patty McIver, TaMara Powell, and Pamela Nye.
In 2012 the Girl Scouts of the USA, as you might have guessed by now, will turn 100 years old. There are celebrations being planned all over the United States, and here in Georgia, there will be many places to participate. Events will be happening in the Atlanta area, the Savannah area (birthplace of GSUSA), and in many towns throughout the state.
LaGrange, Georgia, situated in Troup County, has had a long history with Girl Scouting. In 1930, the LaGrange Girl Scout Council was chartered by the Girl Scouts of the USA. By 1958, this Council was merged into the Pine Valley Council, covering most of middle Georgia. In 2008, Pine Valley Council merged into the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. Right now, the Girl Scouts in Troup County are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouting with a Membership Drive.
Early next year, the Legacy Museum on Main will have a great exhibit on Girl Scouting in Troup County. The Legacy Museum Curator, Laurie Sedicino, recently paid a visit to the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Archives to see if there are any records or artifacts from the Troup County area which could be loaned for this exhibit. She met with some of our volunteer staff, and not only viewed records and artifacts, but also had a tour of the Council facility. We enjoyed her visit, and look forward to working with her on this project.
To the right is the sash that Sue and Laurie were inspecting in the picture above. In slanted rows, the badges are: 1) Hostess, Cook, My Troop; 2) Housekeeper, Tree, Childcare; 3) Adventurer, Skating, Dabbler; 4) Interior Decoration, Cyclist, Back-yard Camper; 5) Cat & Dog.
The permanent exhibit gallery of the Legacy Museum on Main, in the renovated first floor of the 1917 landmark bank building, features the history and development of West Georgia from Indian settlement to present day. The exhibits spotlight major events in the region and the stories of the people who responded to the events, as well as bringing to life the people who explored, settled and transformed the region.
In 2008, the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta was formed from the former councils of Girl Scouts of Northwest Georgia, Girl Scouts of Pine Valley, and Forsyth County (former Girl Scouts of Northeast Georgia Council). Girl Scouts of Pine Valley was originally comprised of Butts, Carroll, Coweta, Fayette, Haralson, Heard, Henry, Lamar, Meriwether, Pike, Spaulding, Troup, and Upson counties.
During April and May 2011, the Council Archives received council records, photographs, uniforms, handbooks, pins, patches, troop scrapbooks, songbooks, videos, and more from the former Pine Valley Council office in Griffin, Georgia. Council staff have been carefully preserving records and artifacts from Pine Valley and ensuring that they are deposited into the Council Archives in Mableton, Georgia.
One interesting item from this collection is a panoramic picture taken at the 1960 Girl Scout National Council Convention, November 14-18, 1960 in St. Louis, Missouri. Held every three years, the 52nd Girl Scout National Convention is set for this coming November10-13, 2011, in Houston, Texas. The very first National Convention was held in 1915 in Washington, D.C., where the constitution and bylaws were adopted, and Juliette Gordon Low was elected National President of the Girl Scouts from 1915-1920.
Among the uniforms we received was one dating from 1914. It is a homemade tan Intermediate (or “Junior” equivalent) uniform consisting of two pieces: one long-sleeved middy blouse and a skirt which is 32” long. (A middy blouse is a loose blouse with a sailor’s collar, worn by children and women). Another interesting uniform is a 1953-60 era Girl Mariner blue uniform. (The Mariners interest group was launched to give Senior Girl Scouts an opportunity to develop skills in boating, sailing, navigation, and water safety.) The hats in the collection included both girl and adult hats. The adult hats ranged in dates from 1948-1972, and a few of the girl hats included a dark brown Brownie beanie with an orange logo (used 1962-1993) and a Senior overseas hat with yellow cord and logo (used 1956-71).
A few of the treasured handbooks we received included a Wing Scout Manual (used from 1949-1955), a 1938 Badge Handbook, and a 1939 Leaders’ Guide (used from 1939-1947). The Wing Scout program was a Senior Girl Scout program for girls interested in flying and wanting to serve their country, started in 1941 and ending in the 1970s. In July 1942, 29 troop leaders from fifteen states met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to take Wing Scout leadership training. These leaders returned to their councils and began setting up Wing Scout troops. In 1959, Girl Scout Council in North San Mateo County, California was presented with an offer from United Airlines San Francisco Management Club President J. L. Burnside to start an aviation program for Senior Girl Scouts. One of the highlights of the Wing Scout program was the courtesy flight provided to Senior Girl Scouts using United Airlines’ jets. For many of the girls, this was the first time they had flown in a plane. Senior Girl Scouts who had been in the program for three years were given the opportunity to take over the controls during flight in a small aircraft. The program was discontinued after United Airlines experienced financial setbacks in the 1970s.
We also received the flag of the Girl Scouts of Pine Valley Council. It is 3 x 5 feet, made of nylon with the traditional Girl Scout logo in the middle. The Council flag would have flown in front of their office. Do you have pictures of this flag flying in Griffin or being used in a flag ceremony? We would love to see it “in action.”
In 2002, as part of the celebration of 90 years of Girl Scouting, the former Girl Scout Council of Northwest Georgia [now part of the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta] published a council history, intended to “inspire the reader to lead Girl Scouting to even greater heights in the future.” [Thomas, Mary Booth. The Girl Scout Council of Northwest Georgia, Inc.: A History of Service. Atlanta: Girl Scout Council of Northwest Georgia, Inc., 2002]
As soon as the Atlanta Girl Scout Council was organized in 1921, Girl Scouting grew by leaps and bounds. Within a year, the council had grown from five troops to 27 troops with a membership of 562 registered Girl Scouts. All of the troops were organized at the request of the girls themselves.
In 1915, the first Girl Scout troop in Atlanta was organized at Rock Spring Presbyterian Church, then in suburban Atlanta [now in the Piedmont Heights neighborhood of Atlanta between Monroe Drive and Cheshire Bridge Road]. The troop of 18 girls was led by the pastor’s wife Mrs. A. Linton Johnson who organized the South’s second Girl Scout Camp in 1915. The troop disbanded when Mrs. Johnson left Atlanta after her husband enlisted as a U.S. Army chaplain at the beginning of World War I.
By the time the Atlanta Council was founded in 1921, there were five troops in the city: at Fort McPherson, Girls High School, North Avenue Presbyterian School (Bolton, GA), and St. Luke’s Church. They were “lone” troops with no connection with one another. They conducted their program through correspondence with national headquarters, then in Washington, DC.
The Atlanta Girl Scout Council began on the morning of July 12, 1921 at 611 Peachtree Street, home of Mrs. Albert Thornton, who called together a group of women to organize Girl Scouting in the Atlanta area. The group elected officers and made a formal application to the national council for a charter. The original council included Fulton and DeKalb counties. The charter was granted on August 5, 1921 and signed by Juliette Gordon Low herself.
[The home is no longer there, but is close to the current site of North Avenue Presbyterian Church. The church is also the creator of the North Avenue Presbyterian Schools, now renamed The Westminster Schools of Atlanta.]