What started with a phone call and a single meeting of 18 girls in Savannah, GA in 1912 is now the world’s premier girl-only leadership program. Juliette Gordon Low believed that all girls should be given the same opportunity as boys to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually and not be isolated in the home with few real world skills to financially support themselves.
From badges in the 1920’s girls could earn learning how to care for a home to today’s technology and STEM-based programs, Girl Scouts has evolved to capture what interests girls and prepares them for their tomorrow.
Girl Scouts Timeline
Courtesy of Girl Scouts of the USA and Girl Scouts River Valleys
- 1912 – Juliette Gordon Low started Girl Scouts when she called her cousin and invited 18 girls to her home
- 1914 – The first Girl Scout troop formed in Minnesota
- 1915 – Girl Scouts was incorporated.
- 1917 – The first Girl Scout cookie sale was held with homemade cookies in a high school cafeteria in Oklahoma.
- 1918 – Girl Scouts produced the film, The Golden Eaglet.
- Girls could earn more than 25 badges.
- 1920 – There were more than 70,000 Girl Scouts nationwide, including the territory of Hawaii.
- The first Girl Scout troops were established in China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Syria for American girls living in other countries.
- 1927 – Girl Scouts adopt green as their signature color.
- 1929 – Girl Scouts has more than 200,000 members.
- Girl Scouts led community relief efforts during the Great Depression.
- Girl Scout resources were transcribed into Braille.
- Greater Philadelphia became the first council to sell commercially-baked cookies.
- Girl Scout Federation of Greater New York began using a die in the shape of a trefoil for their cookies
- The promotional booklet Who Are the Girl Scouts? was printed in English, Polish, Yiddish and Italian.
- During WWII, Girl Scouts operated bicycle courier services, rolled bandages, collected fat and scrap metal, and grew Victory Gardens.
- Girls could earn a War Service Bureau pin for their work in the community in support of the war effort.
- Girls collected 1.5 million articles of clothing that were then shipped overseas to children and adult victims of war.
- Many councils provided camping and program activities which attracted even more girls.
- The Girl Scout Movement was well-established as the decade started, with 1.5 million girls and adult volunteers.
- Special effort was made to include the daughters of migrant agricultural workers, military personnel, Native Americans, Alaskan Eskimos and the physically challenged.
- 1956 – The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace in Savannah, Georgia was opened as a house museum and national program center for girls.
- The Girl Scouts National Board went on record as strongly supporting civil rights.
- The Senior Girl Scout Handbook was translated into Spanish, and the Brownie Girl Scout Handbook was translated into Japanese.
- 1962 – Girl Scouts celebrated 50 years and enjoyed a membership expansion with baby boomers.
- 1975 – Girl Scout members elected the first African American National Girl Scout President, Gloria D. Scott.
- “Eco-Action,” a national environmental program, was launched.
- A new Daisy Girl Scout age–level for girls five years old or in kindergarten was introduced.
- The Contemporary Issues series was developed in the 1980s to help girls and their families deal with serious social issues.
- Project Safe Time was introduced for girls whose parents were not home to care for them after school.
- 1987 – Girl Scouting in the United States celebrated 75 years.
- 1985 – Girl Scout Daisy Grade Level is introduced for girls in kindergarten and first grade
- The first Asian-American National Girl Scout President, Connie Matsui, was elected.
- Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, the first and only mother-daughter prison visitation program, was formed.
- 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 website, local Girl Scout council websites, and online troop meetings.
- 2007 – Five Minnesota Girl Scout councils realign into one council creating Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys.
- National Board of Directors consolidated 312 Girl Scout councils into 112 councils in the United States which serves more than three million girls.
- 2012 – Girl Scouts celebrate its 100th Anniversary. Learn more about River Valleys’ Celebrations.
- There are more than 2.7 million Girl Scout members nationwide and an estimated 59 million alumnae.
Visit the Girl Scouts River Valleys collection with Minnesota Reflections to see more documents and pictures from our local history.
You can also visit Girl Scouts of the USA for a more comprehensive history of Girl Scouting in the United States.