Last week we met the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Council Historians, a group of dedicated volunteers who work to collect, preserve, and share the history and legacy of Girl Scouts across the nation and in our area. These historians are essential to keeping the heartbeat of our movement strong, and we have more stories to share!
Read on to learn about some of the amazing, prestigious, unique items in the historian’s collection.
The Golden Eaglet
The GSGCNWI historical archive holds thousands of items spread across our council, and includes pins and insignias, guide books and records, photographs and videos, uniforms, cookie items, and much, much more. Some of these items are especially prestigious or unique, like cloche hats for leaders from the 1920s, the “enormous” wicker backpacks girls used for overnight camping, and the very first meeting minutes from the Girl Scout council in Gary, Indiana, in 1938. The original Girl Scout handbook is currently on display at the Chicago Gathering Place, and is signed by Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low herself (read our blog to learn more about what we have on display).
Among the favorite items of the historians is a quilt made as a fundraiser for Camp Manistee, a resident camp in the 1950s, which, for ten cents, girls could embroider their own square to be included. Also on the favorites list were the range of unique cookie jars from the various bakers of Girl Scout cookies in the past, evidence of the many different products sold during cookie and Fall Product seasons.
The oldest items in the archive are certainly precious, and include Brownie uniforms from 1918, khaki uniform items from 1915, and of course, the signed Girl Scout handbook. And the most unique items can even be found online: lucky for us, many of the original Girl Scout catalogs are digitized, so you can see for yourself all of the cute merch girls used to rock throughout the years, like purses, charms, and more. Probably the most interesting item the historians noted was a wool Girl Scout bathing suit— might have been fashionable, but certainly sounds uncomfortable!
And the most valuable, prestigious items are a couple of 14k gold membership pins and two original Golden Eaglet pins, the highest rank of Girl Scouting from 1919 to 1939. You can learn more about the Golden Eaglet by watching the short movie below!
The work the historians does goes beyond just archiving, and before the pandemic, they hosted many programs for Girl Scouts in our council over the years, ranging from “What’s WAGGGS” informational sessions, to historical tea parties and Girl Scout movie nights, to fashion shows where girls modeled vintage uniforms. Their work is essential to our council and we are so excited for what they come up with next!
Thank you to all of the GSGCNWI Council Historians:
Levita Anderson, Christine Caragher, Christine Cline, Rosemarie Courtney, Jane Doyle, Phyllis Drewno, Heidi Gannon, Janice Gerovac, Elise Gould, Nancy Hackett, Heather Linehan, Carol Macola, Mia Mehta, Catherine Mori, Kelly Pavlik, Veronica Pradelski, Margaret Rogers, Karen Schillings and Vikki Zack.
Are you interested in helping the historians?
If you’d like to learn more about the archive, how to become a part of the team, or something else about the GSGCNWI historians, email Rosemarie Courtney.