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Juliette Gordon Low: The Origin of Girl Scouts and Her Legacy

Education does not end when leaving school. It is an ongoing process that certainly makes life more enjoyable. I hope you enjoy this!

 Oil on canvas painting of Juliette Gordon Low

Oil on canvas painting of Juliette Gordon Low

Girl Scouts

When I was a youngster, I was a Girl Scout, and my mother was a Girl Scout leader. Believe it or not, I still have my pin and badges that I earned in the 1950s! We both learned much more about the founder of Girl Scouts when we were on vacation one year in Savannah, Georgia. That is where we visited the beautiful and historic home of Juliette Gordon Low.

The photo at the top of this page is a beautifully painted portrait of her by Edward Hughes. The painting is on display inside of the home.

Juliette's Family Background

Juliette Gordon Low was born in 1860 into a beautiful Regency-style house on one of those many scenic squares in Savannah, Georgia, to wealthy parents. Juliette, or "Daisy," as her family and friends called her, had the best background that money could provide.

Her father's family had been early settlers in Georgia, and her mother's family had helped settle Chicago, Illinois.

She had excellent schooling and joined her family in becoming a world traveler. Interested in many different subjects, she mastered many and would have been a most interesting person to know.

Sign from Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace in Savannah, Georgia

Sign from Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace in Savannah, Georgia

Her Wedding

At the age of 26, she married a wealthy Englishman, William Mackay Low.

Juliette had been hard of hearing in one ear due to frequent ear infections. But tragedy struck on the day of her wedding. Well-wishers threw rice at the newlyweds, and ultimately, a rice kernel punctured her eardrum, causing a total loss of hearing in her good ear.

The marriage did not last, and they were separated when William died in 1905.

New Focus and Beginning

Juliette was searching for something upon which to concentrate her efforts. That is when she met Sir Robert Baden Powell in 1911. He had founded the Boy Scouts. With his influence, Juliette started the Girl Guides. A year later, it became the Girl Scouts in America.

In 1912 she invited the first eighteen girls in Savannah, Georgia, to form a girl's unit. Her thought was to get girls to become engaged in projects which would help them physically, stimulate them mentally and help develop their spirituality.

Building character and leadership skills, plus good values, was the goal of this new Girl Scout organization. It would also build courage and confidence to meet life head-on with those attributes more fully developed.

The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.

— Juliette Gordon Low

Her Legacy

Juliette Gordon Low died in 1927 of breast cancer but left a lasting legacy. Many tributes honor her, including a postage stamp, the christening of a ship, and other things appropriate to the outstanding work she originated and spent her best efforts to develop. Her name and the Girl Scouts will forever be linked.

She spent much of her life doing charity work. Posthumously, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame and was also honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Today there are about 10 million members of the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts worldwide in 152 countries! The map below shows all of the places in the world which participate in the Girl Scouts. Only those shaded in grey do not participate.

The map shows the regional divisions of the en:World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Countries without Scouting or Guiding are marked in grey. Date 8 January 2006 (original upload date)

The map shows the regional divisions of the en:World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Countries without Scouting or Guiding are marked in grey. Date 8 January 2006 (original upload date)

Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting can be the magic thread which links the girls of the world together.

— Juliette Gordon Low

Learn more about her in this short but informative video.

My girl scout pin and some of my badges from the 1950s

My girl scout pin and some of my badges from the 1950s

Badges mean nothing in themselves, but they mark a certain achievement and they are a link between the rich and the poor. For when one girl sees a badge on a sister Scout's arm, if that girl has won the same badge, it at once awakens an interest and sympathy between them.

— Juliette Gordon Low

Sources:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Peggy Woods

Comments

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 10, 2021:

Hi Bill,

Juliette Gordon Low did lead a fascinating life. I am sure she would have been a good mother. Since she could not be one, she turned her energy outwards, and many young girls have now been the beneficiary of some of her efforts. She did other charitable works as well. Thanks for your comment.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on April 10, 2021:

Great hub, Peggy. I was not aware of the history of the Girl Scouts. That is amazing that you saved your badges and pin for all these years. My wife and daughters were in Girls Scouts when they were young, I'll have to ask them if they are familiar with Juliette Gordon Low? Fascinating life she lived.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 09, 2021:

Hi Adrienne,

Thanks for commenting on this article about the Girl Scouts and the history of Juliette Gordon Low. Considering all of the things I have gotten rid of through the years, it is incredible that I held onto those badges and the pin. I also have my Brownie pin.

Adrienne Farricelli on April 09, 2021:

Your girl scout pin and badges from the 1950 are very nice. It's great that you have held on to them. Thank you for sharing the history of Juliette Gordon Low, I wasn't aware of her and learned something new.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 09, 2021:

Hi Linda,

Her hearing problem did not hold her back from accomplishing much in her life. She devoted so much of her life to helping others. I am glad that we learned more about her on our vacation trip to Savannah and that I could pass it on to you and others. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 08, 2021:

Hi Farah,

I am so glad that you enjoyed learning about Juliette Gordon Low and her contribution to society. Thanks for your comment. Blessings to you also!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 08, 2021:

Hi Mary,

I am glad to know you enjoyed being a part of the Girl Scouts. It is amazing how one person's life can affect so many others. That is surely the case with Juliette Gordon Low. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 08, 2021:

Hi Brenda,

Yes, I did see your comment, and it was fun seeing those images of the young girls. Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 08, 2021:

Hi Sp Greaney,

It is good to know that you also have the Girl Scouts in Ireland. I am happy to have filled in some information about Juliette Gordon Low for you. Thanks for your comment.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 07, 2021:

Thank you for sharing this information, Peggy. I vaguely remember reading about Juliette Gordon Low’s hearing problem when I was a child. I’m glad I’ve learned more about her by reading your article.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 07, 2021:

Hi Ann,

I am so happy for you that you were able to safely enjoy the gathering for your granddaughter's birthday. Springtime weather is always unpredictable! Glad it cooperated for the birthday celebration.

Farah N Huq from Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 07, 2021:

It was interesting to know about Juliette Gordon Low. Loved reading the article. Stay blessed, dear Peggy!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 07, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

I think you are correct in that some people appear to have come to this life for a purpose. I can think of many examples. This lady left behind her a great legacy.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on April 07, 2021:

Hi, Peggy. I was also a girl scout when I was growing up and was very active. I learned so much from it and all because of the work of this woman.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 07, 2021:

Hi Devika,

Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed learning about Juliette Gordon Low. It is fun learning new things!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 07, 2021:

Hi Amara,

I am so glad you enjoyed reading this. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 07, 2021:

Hi Brenda,

Those are some cute images. I am sure that the Camp Fire Girls is another worthy organization somewhat similar to the Girl Scouts.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on April 06, 2021:

I hope you got my comment...about the bluebirds bring camp fire girls.

It is a younger group before the brownies or girl scouts

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2021:

Hi Heidi,

Sorry that the transportation and availability issues kept you from being in the Girl Scouts or Campfire Girls. It is nice that some of your friends have their daughters in the Girl Scouts. It is a great organization! Thanks for your comment.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on April 06, 2021:

It's great to see how much her achievements were appreciated.

I didn't know the background behind the girl scouts before and I never heard of Juilet Gordon Low but this was very interesting to read. We have the scouts here too but it is no where near as popular as the USA.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 06, 2021:

We had a great time thanks Peggy. All out in the garden in the sunshine, so I was pleased, and surprised, at that! The temperature was much better than expected. Today we've had hail and snow, but only for 3 minutes. How weird this weather is!

Ann

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2021:

Hi Vanita,

It is wonderful that you have experienced similar activities in your part of the world. It appears that you went much further into the Girl Guiding activities than I did. Thanks for your comment.

manatita44 from london on April 06, 2021:

A remarkable woman. Sometimes, people who come to Earth for a purpose, suffers first and one can see the thread, almost like if they were sent by God and the heroine follows unconsciously. Later, she understands the 'why's and 'hows.' of the challenges encountered.

Yes, the video is light-hearted, but again reminded me of how deep bigotry and racism were. Life and its challenges! Still, life is evolution and we grow through it.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 06, 2021:

I wasn't a girl scout but know what it is about. It is what makes you see yourself as responsible and having fun as well. You shared a fascinating write up about Juliette Gordon Low and I had not heard of her. That is what makes it so interesting tome. There is often something new or from the past that allows me to learn about different people. An excellent hub!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada,

It is fun reliving some of those memories with my mother as my Girl Scout leader. She was always such a good role model and did volunteer work of one type or another most of her life.

I am glad to know that you were in something similar to the Girl Scouts when you were in school. Thanks for your comment.

Amara on April 06, 2021:

Its an interesting article Peggy.. Thanks for sharing..

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 05, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

I am pleased that you enjoyed learning about the founder of the Girl Scouts in the USA. I also had my Brownie pin but chose to only feature the Girl Scout one along with the badges. Thanks for your comment.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on April 05, 2021:

Peggy,

The Bluebird was the first step.

https://images.app.goo.gl/qov5kk9zeZSbou2x5

https://images.app.goo.gl/5nBvDA9mQnxKjwRB9

I guess they were also called The Camp Fire Girls.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 05, 2021:

Hi Ann,

I hope you enjoyed your granddaughter's birthday party and stayed warm. It was 78 degrees Fahrenheit here today here in Houston.

Yes, it is the same thing here that Brownies comes before Girl Scouts. My mother made attending those groups lots of fun. The reason I only had that many badges is that we moved from Wisconsin to Texas. At that point, my extra time went towards other pursuits.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on April 05, 2021:

I was never in Girl Scouts. Back in the day in my neighborhood, they were often clustered around church parishes. The churches we attended didn't seem to have them. And I never had a way to get to the meetings.

I did think being in another similar group, the Campfire Girls, would have also been cool. But again the transportation and availability issues.

Some friends have had their daughters in Girl Scouts and it is a great organization. Thanks for the history!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 05, 2021:

Hi MG,

I am glad that you now know about Juliette Gordon Low. Her founding of the Girl Scouts in the USA is a worthy legacy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 05, 2021:

Hi Chrish,

I am glad that you also got to experience being a girl scout. We also had a lot of fun! Thanks for your comment.

Vanita Thakkar on April 05, 2021:

Hello, Peggy !!

Happy to read your article and for being able to comment :-)

I can relate very well with this article as I was a Bulbul (Girl Guides in primary school are called Bulbuls here) and later a Girl Guide. I was the Guide Troop leader of my school .... I had attended several camps - great activities, learning, meeting people from all over the country and across the globe - as I had attended regional, national as well as international events .... I too have my badges and notes and scarfs and woggles .... preserved as memories

:-) :-)

Thanks for sharing such interesting information on Girl Guiding / Scouting activities In the US.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 05, 2021:

Excellent information about Juliette Gordon Low, and her legacy. I enjoyed reading about her and the pictures are amazing.

Great to know that you and your mother were also in Girl Scouts team. Those badges give a feeling of nostalgia. I loved it.

I have also been attached to something similar, when I was at school. Brings back memories of my younger days.

Thank you for sharing this interesting and well illustrated article.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 05, 2021:

Hi Nithya,

That painting is of Juliette Gordon Low, not my mother. I agree that Juliette was a beautiful young lady. Because of visiting the house where she was born, we learned much more about her. Travel can be informative as well as fun. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 05, 2021:

Hi Brenda,

The area where I grew up was also small. In the nearest town, there may have been a couple more traffic lights.

My mother was not only a Girl Scout leader but also a cub scout leader for boys. Both of my brothers were in that troop, along with a few other boys.

Cub scouts preceded being a Boy Scout, just as being a Brownie preceded being a Girl Scout.

Was being a Bluebird something similar?

Rosina S Khan on April 05, 2021:

It was nice to know about Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts. It is even more interesting to know that you were a girl scout when you were a young girl and have saved all the pins and badges since the 1950s. Obviously this article was a wonderful read about girl scouts and their founder of course.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 05, 2021:

This is interesting, Peggy. I was a Brownie (the young girl guides in Britain - is that the same in the US?) and then decided I would give the Girl Guides a go too. I've never really enjoyed 'regimented' activities, which is what they seemed to me in those days. I liked going out and climbing trees with the boys! Therefore, my Guiding days didn't last very long and I left. The leaders weren't very dynamic either so perhaps that contributed to my dissatisfaction! They are all stalwart traditional institutions of course and do great good around the world.

Thanks for bringing Juliette Gordon Low to our attention; I knew nothing about her. She was obviously a socially-concerned lady, wanting to 'do her bit' and what a legacy she left behind.

We are plunged into cold weather again now, after soaring heat last week. Snow is forecast almost everywhere but I'm off to see my girls and grandchildren, as one of the granddaughters is 6 today. Birthday cake and fun all round; can't wait! It's supposed to be all outside still so I'll need my thermals...

Ann

MG Singh from UAE on April 05, 2021:

This is a great legacy to leave behind. It has added to my knowledge.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on April 04, 2021:

That was a great history of her. I was a girl scout too in grade school, it was fun! You've got a wonderful box of childhood memories Ms Peggy. Thanks for sharing it with us

blessings and much love

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 04, 2021:

Hi Bill,

I am glad that you learned something about the history of the Girls Scouts and her founder. Wishing you a Happy Easter also!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 04, 2021:

An interesting and informative article about Juliette Gordon Low. I knew about Girl Scouts but did not know about this amazing person behind it all, thank you for sharing. Your mom is so beautiful and her portrait exquisitely painted!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on April 04, 2021:

Peggy,

This is quite interesting. I knew nothing about this woman.

I grew up in a village that was very tiny. Only one traffic light.

These things were not offered. My mother did organize the Bluebirds one year, so I got to participate in that one.

But by the time I was at the age to join the Girl Scouts it was only offered in another town which my parents would not be able to drive me too.

So glad you & your mother experienced this quality time together.

Great write & pictures.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 04, 2021:

Hi Pamela,

Juliette Gordon Low certainly did leave an excellent lasting legacy. I am glad that you enjoyed being a part of the Girl Scouts when you were young.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 04, 2021:

That's a cool history. I knew nothing about it. Thanks for the information, my friend. I wonder, they haven't had the abuse scandals that the Boy Scouts have had, right? I haven't heard anything about it if they did.

Anyway, Happy Easter!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 04, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

Juliette Gordon Low was a world traveler and a humanitarian. She had many talents and used them to full effect during her life. Since she could not have children of her own, she helped many other girls with the scouting and all that entails. Thanks for being the first to visit this article and leave a comment.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 04, 2021:

I was a Girl Scout when i was young, and it is a wonderful program. Juliette Gordon sure did leave a lasting legacy. This ia a wonderful article, Peggy.

Misbah from The Planet Earth on April 04, 2021:

This is very interesting article, Peggy

You have shared a well detailed history of Juliette Gordon. I have never heard about her before. But after reading, I can say her life was very interesting. I have never participated in a girls scout organisation in my life but seeing you still have your badges and pins is a joy.

Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading it

Blessings always

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