Girl Scouts Timeline
Decade by Decade
Founder Juliette Gordon Low poses with some of the nation's first Girl Scouts.
- Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low assembled 18 girls from Savannah, Georgia, on March 12, 1912, for the first Girl Scout meeting.
- Juliette Gordon Low moved the national headquarters to New York City in 1915.
- The highest Award in Girl Scouting, the Golden Eagle of Merit had its debut in 1916. It would go through several name changes before becoming the Girl Scout Gold Award.
- The sale of cookies as a way to finance troop activities began as early as 1917 when the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, baked cookies and sold them in its high school cafeteria as a service project.
- During World War I, girls learned about food production and conservation, sold war bonds, worked in hospitals, and collected peach pits for use in gas mask filters.
- After the war came The Golden Eaglet, a feature film about Girl Scouting shown in theaters across the country, and The Rally (later called The American Girl), a monthly magazine for girls published by Girl Scouts.
- The Executive Board inaugurated a fund raising plan to relieve the burden on Juliette Gordon Low, who had been financing operations on her own (she sold her extremely valuable necklace of rare and matched pearls to support the organization!).
- By 1920, Girl Scouts was growing in its independence from the British Girl Guide example and developed its own uniform, handbook (Scouting for Girls), and its own constitution and bylaws, contained in the Blue Book of Rules for Girl Scout Captains.
- By 1920, there were nearly 70,000 Girl Scouts nationwide, including the territory of Hawaii.
- The first Girl Scout Troops on Foreign Soil (TOFS) were established in China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Syria for American girls living in other countries.
- The first Native American Girl Scout troop was formed with girls of the Onondaga Nation in central New York State, and a troop of Mexican American girls was formed in Houston, Texas.
- Field News, originally a supplement to The American Girl, becomes Girl Scout Leader (later called LEADER) and is distributed as a separate publication.
- Girls in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania formed a Girl Scout Radio Troop, in collaboration with pioneering radio station KDKA.
- By the end of the decade, there were more than 200,000 Girl Scouts.
- Girl Scouts led community relief efforts during the Great Depression by collecting clothing, making quilts, carving wood toys, gathering food for the poor, assisting in hospitals, participating in food drives and canning programs, and providing meals to undernourished children.
- Girl Scout resources were transcribed into Braille, and the Helen Keller Scholarship was established for training leaders who work with blind girls.
- The Girl Scout program was divided into three groups—Brownie, Intermediate, and Senior—in order to enhance service and provide age-appropriate activities for girls.
- The promotional booklet Who Are the Girl Scouts? was printed in English, Polish, Yiddish, and Italian.
- The first sale of commercially baked Girl Scout Cookies® took place.
- During the war, Girl Scouts operated bicycle courier services, invested more than 48,000 hours in Farm Aide projects, collected fat and scrap metal, and grew Victory Gardens.
- A publication, Senior Girl Scouting in Wartime, was created to encourage older girls to perform war-related service projects, like Hospital, Child Care, and Emergency Outdoor Aide.
- Girl Scouts sponsored Defense Institutes, which taught 10,000 women survival skills and techniques for comforting children during blackouts and air raids.
- Girls collected 1.5 million articles of clothing that were then shipped overseas to children and adult victims of war.
- The Girl Scout Movement was well-established as the decade started, with 1.5 million girls and adult volunteers. A special effort was made to include the daughters of migrant agricultural workers, military personnel, Native Americans, Alaskan Eskimos, and the physically challenged.
- Girl Scouts of the USA was re-incorporated in 1950 under a Congressional Charter.
- The March 1952 issue of Ebony magazine reported: "Girl Scouts in the South are making steady progress toward breaking down racial taboos."
- Bought in 1953 and later restored, the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace in Savannah, Georgia, was opened as a house museum and national program center for girls in October 1956.
- The National Board went on record as strongly supporting civil rights. Senior Girl Scout Speakout conferences were held around the country and the "ACTION 70" project was launched in 1969, both as nationwide Girl Scout initiatives to overcome prejudice.
- The Piper Project, headed by actress and Girl Scout troop leader Debbie Reynolds, was launched to retain girls so they could benefit from the program for each age–level, as well as to recruit Girl Scouts in populations that were under-served.
- The Senior Girl Scout Handbook was translated into Spanish, and the Brownie Girl Scout Handbook was translated into Japanese.
- Girl Scout members elected the first African American National Girl Scout President, Gloria D. Scott, in 1975.
- Girl Scouts helped Vietnamese refugee children adapt to their new homes.
- Girl Scouts contributed to a White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health.
- "Eco-Action," a national environmental program, was launched.
- The Contemporary Issues series was developed in the 1980s to help girls and their families deal with serious social issues. The first, Tune In to Well Being, Say No to Drugs, was introduced in collaboration with a project initiated by First Lady Nancy Reagan. Subsequent publications dealt with issues such as child abuse, youth suicide, literacy, and pluralism.
- Project Safe Time was introduced for girls whose parents were not home to care for them after school.
- Management guru Peter Drucker cited the Girl Scouts as his choice for the best-managed organization.
- A new Daisy Girl Scout age–level for girls five years old or in kindergarten was introduced.
- The Girl Scout Survey on the Beliefs and Moral Values of America's Children (January 1990) showed that girls in Girl Scouting were less likely to cheat on tests.
- Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, the first and only mother-daughter prison visitation program, was formed.
- Nearly four million Girl Scouts, girls and adult leaders, tackled illiteracy alongside First Lady Barbara Bush in the Right to Read service project.
- Girl Scouts inaugurated a health and fitness national service project, Be Your Best, to promote different ways of being healthy, keeping fit, and eating right.
- Girl Scouting experienced a renewed emphasis on physical fitness with the inauguration of a health and fitness national service project in 1994 and the GirlSports initiative in 1996.
- The Girl Scout Research Institute launched its first study, Teens Before Their Time, which found that contemporary pre-teen girls were maturing faster mentally and physically, but not emotionally, than previous generations.
- Girl Scouts took to the World Wide Web via the organization's Web site (www.girlscouts.org), local Girl Scout council Web sites, and online troop meetings.
- Encouraged by President George W. Bush, Girl Scouts donated a personal gift of $1 each to help support the children of Afghanistan.
- Following comprehensive research, which ranged from online surveys to focus groups across the country, a brand-new approach to serving adolescent girls, STUDIO 2B, was unveiled at the Girl Scout National Council Session in Long Beach, California, in May 2003.
- Historical Highlights (PDF): The turn of the century brought Girl Scouting to a threshold of change. In a nutshell, here's what has happened to transform the organization from 2002 to 2008.