Atlanta’s First Black Girl Scouts: The Untold Story of the District V Girl Scout Troops
Sunday, June 10, 2012. 3:00 p.m.
The Auburn Avenue Research Library will host Atlanta’s First Black Girl Scouts: The Untold Story of the District V Girl Scout Troops. This community discussion will highlight the experiences of Atlanta’s first African American Girl Scout troops, and honor the achievements of Bazoline Usher, Phyllis Dews, and Roslyn Pope.
Usher led the group of African American women who founded Atlanta’s first troops for girls of color in 1943. Dews was the second Field Director of District V. Pope was the 1953 Senior Girl Scout All State Camper and had numerous accomplishments in her Girl Scout career.
This event will also include displays of photographs, Girl Scout memorabilia, pins and vintage uniforms pieces from the 1940 – 50’s that reflect District V’s achievements in scouting.
A Senior from Troop 1368 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta will be in a uniform from that era and serve as moderator for the discussion. This picture was taken at their cookie booth sale on Girl Scout Sunday, March 11, 2012.
The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History is located at 101 Auburn Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30303; Tel: 404-730-4001. All events are free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!
In May 1952 in middle Tennessee, there lived a Girl Scout captain following the same dream as our founder Juliette Low–Girl Scouts of the USA for every American girl. Girl Scout Captain Josephine Holloway, a former Social Worker, purchased 50 acres of land with the help of her husband, Dr. Guerney Holloway, for a Girl Scout campgrounds dedicated for African American girls. The camp was a first for Girl Scouts in the South. Before the civil rights movement, local laws and customs prevented Mrs. Holloway’s Troop 200 from camping overnight with other troops during camping events.
To give her troop a true camping experience, Mrs. Holloway searched for land with running water, such as a stream, for her scouts to bathe and cook. She found a land lot in Millersville, Tennessee, which even had a farmhouse that the troop would later use as their lodge.
The field had been unattended and the farmhouse dilapidated, but Mrs. Holloway was a visionary. She encouraged her scouts and their parents to envision the cabins, trails, and the pool. Every weekend they visited the grounds, tackled the overgrowth, and followed the instructions of Mrs. Holloway’s designs for the camp.
Since its dedication 60 years ago, the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee have purchased additional lots to increase the campground’s size to the current 76 acres. They later honored Mrs. Holloway with the camp’s name change to Camp Holloway.
Many people in Tennessee see Mrs. Holloway as a hidden heroine. Her efforts to help Ms. Low’s dream for every American girl to have the opportunity to become a Girl Scout are heroic due to social challenges before and during civil rights movement.
I had to visit the campgrounds myself. Camp Holloway has been completely renovated. Girls can experience archery, running through an obstacle course, rappelling off of a tower, rock climbing, swimming, team adventuring, and tree climbing.
I can only imagine Mrs. Holloway would be so proud with the updates. There is even a patch that visiting Girl Scout campers can earn, called the “Josephine Holloway/Guerney’s Cabin Patch.” To visit Camp Holloway, call 615-383-0490 or visit the website at http://gsmidtn.org/camp/category/camp-holloway/.
Blog post written by TaMara Powell, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Archives Volunteer and Girl Scout Troop Leader.
This past Tuesday was a busy one for not only the History and Archives Committee, but the whole Council. In a wonderful turn of events, the Council hosted the CEO of GSUSA, Anna Maria Chavez, at the 100th Anniversary Time Capsule Dedication and Girl Scout Day ceremonies. The committee decided to wear some of the original and replica uniforms to honor the occasion. Several attendees at the event enjoyed learning about the uniforms and the history behind them. The committee were asked several times to pose for cameras, and we happily obliged.
The first event, held at Camp Timber Ridge, began with a great talk from Anna Maria Chavez. It was great to hear her perspective and plans for the Girl Scouts. She was energetic, lively, and very committed to making Girl Scouts the best place to be for girls. Afterwards, in our chat with her, we were glad to hear that she is a history buff as well.
Afterwards, all of the event participants headed back to the Council offices for the 100th Anniversary Time Capsule dedication. The Archives committee had been working for several months with Council staff to make this the best time capsule we could possibly make. Not only were Council items and 100th GS Anniversary memorabilia included, the Council reached out to current Girl Scouts of all levels and asked them to contribute an item they thought significant.
Linda Bishop, chair of the Archives Committee presented to Anna Maria Chavez and Marilyn Midyette, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, our “Girl Scouts Make History” pin, as our thanks and appreciation for working together with the committee. As you can see from the picture, Linda presented the pins in her traditional manner.
Pamela Nye gave a short speech on the importance of time capsules, and of the Archives’ role in keeping safe not only the list of items enclosed in the capsule, but the location of the capsule as well. Too many time capsules have been lost or forgotten, and we do not intend for this one to suffer that same fate. The life span of electronic records is amazingly brief, so any audio, video, or electronic records will be held in the Council Archives for safekeeping, and to be able to migrate the records to whatever the next medium will be. We also want the current Girl Scouts, adult volunteers, and interested researchers to be able to access this information. All the items that were placed inside the time capsule are either eye readable records or cloth materials that won’t break down over time. A full list of contents will be posted soon.
One of the more interesting uniforms was worn by TaMara Powell. In the United States, this white uniform was only worn in the South, due to the extreme heat. It was officially recommended for use in 1920. It consisted of a white middy blouse, skirt, shoes and stockings, a black or colored tie, a khaki hat, and armband. (The light blue tie was added in 1922.) The uniform was made of lighter weight material and was only approved for use as requested. It was never available in a catalog, but was approved for use in the Southern U.S. states, Puerto Rico, Hawai’i, Panama, and the Phillipines. [For more information about uniforms, please see the Girl Scout Collector’s Guide by Mary Degenhardt and Judith Kirsch, 2005.]
The event was a great success, and we were glad to see so many people come out and celebrate this momentous occasion. Here are a few news stories about the event.
There have been over 50 million women in the United States who have been a Girl Scout, and there are anniversary celebrations happening all over the country today, March 12, 2012. On this date in 1912, Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low started the very first Girl Scout troop in Savannah, Georgia. Today, 3.2 million girls are Girl Scouts in the United States, and are part of the 10 million girls who are members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
Juliette Low faced many obstacles, but she had a vision that this organization would help girls not only in her lifetime, but far into the future. The 1933 Girl Scout Handbook included a message from her, written on October 31, 1924.
Dear Girl Scouts:
I hope that we shall all remember the rules of this Girl Scouting game of ours. They are: to play fair, to play in your place, and to play for your side and not for yourself.
And as for the score, the best thing in a game is the fun and not the results, for:
“When the Great Recorder comes to write against your name, he writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.”
Girl Scouts, I salute you.
Your friend, Juliette Low
We would love to hear how you are celebrating this day (and Girl Scout Week!)
Today, WAGGGS wishes ‘happy World Thinking Day’ to all Girl Guides and Girl Scouts! Up to 10 million girls in 145 countries around the world are spending today reflecting on their international friendships, thinking about the environment, and raising money for the World Thinking Day Fund.
In 1992, the Northwest Georgia Girl Scout Council (one of our historic councils) reached out to the Republic of Georgia to bring Girl Scouting to that country. Many of our current Archives volunteers such as Sue Belden and Gigi Baroco were involved with this initiative. We are proud to have been part of this effort to introduce more girls to scouting. You can read more about the Georgian Girl Scouts on the WAGGGS website.
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.