As the Girl Scouts of the USA prepare to celebrate their 100th anniversary, we will be featuring stories from NARA staff who were former Girl Scouts. This post is from Director of Preservation Programs Doris Hamburg.
Happy 100th birthday, Girl Scouts!
Juliette Gordon Low began the first Girl Scout troop in 1912 in Savannah with just a small group of girls. Today there are more than 3.2 million scouts around the world. In fact, about half of adult American women are Girl Scout alumnae. Girl Scout activities (including selling those delicious Thin Mints!) develop skills, confidence, and character, and help to make the world a better place.
I was a scout as a girl and more recently served as a leader for my daughter’s troop. Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout! As a Brownie at age 8, little did I expect that Girl Scouting would have such an influence on my future.
When I was in 10th grade, my troop was asked to help at Lyndhurst, the newly opened National Trust for Historic Preservation museum. It was a splendid 19th-century Gothic Revival mansion overlooking the Hudson River in New York. At first, I sold postcards and souvenirs. As I learned more, I began giving tours.
At Christmastime, it was wonderful fun to help festoon the beautiful house with holiday decorations. I imagined the house when it was occupied by the original families, half expecting ladies and gentlemen in crinolines and starched shirts to come into the room to admire the ornaments. During high school, the volunteering evolved into a weekend activity, and then a part-time summer job as a museum guide.
Fast forward to the end of college. I was trying to figure out what I, a mediaeval studies major, wanted to be “when I grew up.” I remembered my rich experience at Lyndhurst working with the collection and decided to explore a career in museums. After college, I had the good fortune to get a job at the Morgan Library in New York City. I learned about bookbinding and the field of conservation of art and historic artifacts, and eventually I went to graduate school in conservation. And so, my career in preservation began with a Girl Scout badge!
Girl Scout Centennial celebrations are going on across the country all year. You can find out more about about Girl Scouting and the centennial events at www.girlscouts.org. This coming Saturday, June 10, more than 200,000 Girl Scouts from around the world will be gathering at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, for a big “Girl Scouts Rock the Mall: 100th Anniversary Sing-Along.”
The National Archives is offering a special early entry for Girl Scouts (wearing uniforms or official Girl Scout items) and their families on June 8, 9, and 10 from 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW. Girl Scouts will also receive a 10% discount at the Archives Shop. You can also watch a film or earn badges or play Agents of Change!