There is a new exhibit at the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Headquarters in Mableton, Georgia in honor of Black History Month. It is called “In The Lives of District V- The Untold Story of Atlanta’s First African-American Girl Scout Troops.”
The Greater Atlanta Chapter History/Archives committee features the stories from the first Atlanta African-American Girl Scout troops that began in 1943. The showcase displays 25 items including photographs of Girl Scout memorabilia. Pins and vintage uniforms pieces from the 1940 – 50’s reflect District V’s achievements in scouting. Part of the area covered by District V included the Auburn district of downtown Atlanta.
There are more than ten black and white photographs in the exhibit. Some are from The Atlanta Daily World newspaper and one is from a Jet Magazine photo shoot that featured 1953 Senior Girl Scout All State Camper, Roslyn Pope. Replicas of Miss Pope’s uniform with badges are also included.
Miss Bazoline Usher in 1943 headed 25 to 30 African-American women to start troops for girls of color, which became District V. Miss Usher worked many years with the Girl Scouts. She received Girl Scouts’ highest honor, the “Thank You” pin, in the mid 1940’s. The pin, also known as the Thanks Badge, is displayed along with Miss Usher’s photograph. There is a list of other honorees awarded this pin for their exceptional service that benefited the entire Girl Scout council. It is a gold filled and enamel medallion on a blue grosgrain ribbon.
District V in their first year as Girl Scouts placed second in cookie sales in Atlanta. A photograph from the The Atlanta Daily World depicts scouts and Troop Leader with cookie boxes and counting their profits.
Girl Scouts from District V were able to experience camp life at Camp J.K. Orr in Lovejoy, Georgia, which was rented from the Boy Scouts of America. A brochure called Camping for me (1963) promotes District V’s first official campsite in Carver Park. The George Washington Carver State Park is the first Georgia state park for African-Americans. Carver Park neighbors Girl Scout Camp Pine Acres on Lake Allatoona near Acworth. Some other artifacts include a sample size tent as well as a cookie case from the 1960s. A timeline which highlights the many historical events in Girl Scouts District V concludes the exhibit.
The exhibit is located in the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Service Center, available Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and on weekends during events. Be sure and go see it while you are there! If you were a Girl Scout in District V, we would love to hear from you! Contact Margaret Paschal at 770-702-9411 or at mpaschal [at] gsgatl.org. [link not included to reduce spam]
Special thanks to Rhonda Barrow, Sue Belden, Denise McGill, Margaret Paschal and TaMara Powell for creating this educational and interesting exhibit.
One of the perks of volunteering at the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Archives is to see all the pieces of history that come in to stay. We recently received this acquisition from a former Girl Scout, and the staff were excited because we did not have this bag in our collection. We had a matching mess kit, as seen below, that was produced around the same time. You can find the plaid mess kit available online in many places, but a search for the larger matching bag is not quite as easy.
This plaid bag first appeared in the 1954 Girl Scout Equipment Catalog, and was marketed as a lunch bag. Girls would have used this at camp to carry their mess kit and canteen, or other items that might be useful. When not at camp, the Girl Scout could use it to carry her handbook and writing material. These types of bags are still popular with Girl Scouts today.
In our Georgia Archives Month display, we discuss what archives are and what we do as archivists. One of our core missions is to collect and preserve the history of Girl Scouting. One of the ways we accomplish this mission is by encouraging donations of uniforms, artifacts (objects), patches, sashes, pictures, or other memorabilia of scouting in the north Georgia area. These are considered accessions.
The oldest items in the collection are uniforms from 1915, which predate the Council’s creation by six years. However, not everything in our collection is “old stuff.” A current pin and patch will become collectors’ items in no time. Gathering history as we go is much easier than trying to track rare items down. That sweatshirt you got from a past Leader’s Weekend can become a part of a treasured textile collection. Photographs from a troop camping trip can provide researchers with a rich visual history. Learning the provenance of a particular SWAP can be fascinating. Service Unit agendas document the governance and events at the local level.
If you are a former Girl Scout, think about not only renewing your membership (only $12!) but also think about those uniforms, hats, sashes, badges, handbooks, and such that are packed away in that box in the attic. Perhaps you came across an older relative’s memorabilia and are unsure where it should go. Please contact the Archives and let us know what you have. If you grew up in another state (or anywhere in the world), we can put you in contact with your former Council.