World War I -- Life Histories/Section 001/Juliette Gordon Low

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This entry is a part of the English 105i People of World War I project. This page was created as a part of the World War I centennial project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Juliette Gordon Low
Juliette Gordon Low (1860-1927) in 1887
BornJuliette Magill Kinzie Gordon
Template loop detected: Template:Birth date
Savannah, Georgia
DiedTemplate:Death date and age
Savannah, Georgia
Known forFounder of the Girl Scouts of the USA

 

Overview[edit]

Juliette Gordon Low (October 31, 1860 – January 17, 1927)[1][2] was the founder of the United States Girl Scouts - a movement that played an important role for the home front in World War I. She frequently corresponded with Lord Baden-Powell, who she met during her travels in England, the founder of the Scouting movement, and she appeared sympathetic to his ideals[3]. Back at her home in Savannah, Georgia, Daisy worked to form her own version of the scouting movement aimed toward girls. She established the first Girl Scouts troop and Girl Scouts headquarters at her home in Savannah Georgia in 1912[4].

 

Early years[edit]

The birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, GA.

Low was born Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon on October 31, 1860. She was the second of six children of William Washington Gordon, a wealthy Georgian cotton broker, and Eleanor Kinzie Gordon, a descendant of one of the founding families of Chicago. She was referred to as “Daisy” by her family and friends, a nickname she supposedly received from her uncle[5]. Low spent a large portion of her childhood in her family home in Savannah, Georgia. She was described as an artistic and eccentric child who wrote poems; sketched, wrote and acted in plays; and later became a skilled painter and sculptor[6]. In 1886, Low married William "Willy" Mackey Low, a wealthy, American-born scion of a Scottish cotton factory[7]. Following her marriage, she and her husband settled in Britain. However, Low’s marriage was rather unstable, primarily due to her husband’s multiple affairs, and in 1901 Low became formally estranged from her husband[8]. Mackey Low would passed away in 1905 before the divorce was officially finalized, and Low received her husband’s Savannah estate as well as a large sum of money[9].

 

Girl Guides[edit]

Meeting Lord Baden-Powell[edit]

Juliette Gordon Low would first meet with Lord Baden-Powell – the founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in great Brittain - at a party during her travels to the United Kingdom. There she would learn about his ideas, which would later inspire her to form the Girl Scouts of America[10]. Lord Baden-Powell was a prominent British political figure who was

Lord Robert Baden-Powell in South Africa

very active in the war effort. Archival materials suggest that Baden-Powell aided Great Britain through espionage[11]. One document even contains a description of Lord Baden-Powell’s attempt to smuggle information into Germany coded in the artwork of a book he published on butterflies[12]. Scholars argue that Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts, when founded, had strong nationalistic and pro-British tendencies that made them an important organization in WWI Britain[13]. Lord Baden-Powell himself was extremely critical of Communism, and appeared to have many nationalist and fascist beliefs[14]. He admired Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime in Italy, and even described Adolf Hitler’s Mien Kamph as “a wonderful book, with good ideas on education, health, propaganda, organization etc. – and ideals which Hitler does not practice himself.[15]

Coded letter sent to Lady Baden-Powell during World War I

Girl Guides[edit]

Low aided Lord Baden-Powell by volunteering and serving for his Girl Guides – an alternative to his Boy Scout program that was aimed toward young women[16]. The Girl Guides were headed by Baden-Powell’s sister, Agnes Baden-Powell, who stressed the femininity and domesticity of the organization, say that they were not to be “a bunch of tomboys parading nosily in the streets[17].” However, during the Great War, this concept of femininity would be challenged due to the growing social freedoms that were given to women in Great Britain during the war effort, and the organization began to incorporate many aspects from the Boy Scouts, such as pioneering and campin[18]g. In May 1915, the “War Service" badge was introduced to the Girl Guides program, which could be earned by working for twenty-one days in hospitals and other nursing institutions for the war, or by producing fifteen items of clothing for the war effort[19]. Lowe herself would go on to create and lead her own Girl Guides troop near her home in Scotland, where she taught domestic skills such as knitting and weaving to the guides[20].

 

Girl Scouts and World War I[edit]

Juliette Gordon Low with two Girl Scouts

Upon her return to her home in Savannah, GA. Daisy Low would create her own organization at her estate in Savannah, the Girl Scouts of America, inspired by Baden Powell’s Boy Scouts and Girl Guides Program. The first Girl Scouts troops were created on March 12, 1912[21]. At first, Juliette Gordon Low referred to them as “Girl Guides,” just like lord Baden-Powell’s counterparts in Britain[22]. However, the name was changed to the Girl Scouts of America in 1913. Low’s extensive social connections would aid in the rapid growth of the girl guides[23]. In just a year, the Girl Scouts’ National Headquarters was established in Washington, DC. The program, as expected, inherited many of the nationalistic tendencies of Baden-Powell’s programs and would also pay a key role in the American war effort. The first Girl Scouts handbook would even be titled “How Girls Can Help their Country”, authored by Low herself[24]. By the time the United States entered World war one, the organization had grown to over five-thousand members[25]. Similar to their British counterparts, the Girl Scouts of America would aid the American war effort through hospital and domestic services. By 1919, the first International Council of the Girl Scouts and Girl Guides met in London, forming an international coalition between Low’s and Baden-Powell’s movements.

Death[edit]

Juliette Gordon Low is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah, GA

Low died from breast cancer on January 17, 1927. She is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia[26].

 

Bibliography[edit]

  1. "Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts." Kirkus Reviews 1 December 2011.
  2. Patton, Donna Alice. "A Daisy of a Girl Scout: Juliette Gordon Low." History Magazine (2011): 24-26.
  3. • Shultz, Gladys Denny; Lawrence, Daisy Gordon (1988). Lady from Savannah: The Life of Juliette Low. New York: Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
  4. Patton, Donna Alice. "A Daisy of a Girl Scout: Juliette Gordon Low." History Magazine (2011): 24-26.
  5. • Shultz, Gladys Denny; Lawrence, Daisy Gordon (1988). Lady from Savannah: The Life of Juliette Low. New York: Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
  6. "Juliette Gordon Low Biography: Founder of Girl Scouts of the USA." Girl Scouts of America
  7. • Shultz, Gladys Denny; Lawrence, Daisy Gordon (1988). Lady from Savannah: The Life of Juliette Low. New York: Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
  8. • Shultz, Gladys Denny; Lawrence, Daisy Gordon (1988). Lady from Savannah: The Life of Juliette Low. New York: Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
  9. • Shultz, Gladys Denny; Lawrence, Daisy Gordon (1988). Lady from Savannah: The Life of Juliette Low. New York: Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
  10. "Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts." Kirkus Reviews 1 December 2011.
  11. Gordon Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  12. Gordon Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  13. Pryke, Sam. "The popularity of nationalism in the early British Boy Scout movement." Social History (1998): 309-325.
  14. Pryke, Sam. "The popularity of nationalism in the early British Boy Scout movement." Social History (1998): 309-325.
  15. Jeal, Tim (1989). Baden-Powell. London: Hutchinson
  16. "Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts." Kirkus Reviews 1 December 2011.
  17. Voeltz, Richard A. "The antidote to `khaki fever'? The expansion of the British Girl Guides during the first world war." Journal of Contemporary History (1992): 627-639.
  18. Voeltz, Richard A. "The antidote to `khaki fever'? The expansion of the British Girl Guides during the first world war." Journal of Contemporary History (1992): 627-639.
  19. Voeltz, Richard A. "The antidote to `khaki fever'? The expansion of the British Girl Guides during the first world war." Journal of Contemporary History (1992): 627-639.
  20. Patton, Donna Alice. "A Daisy of a Girl Scout: Juliette Gordon Low." History Magazine (2011): 24-26.
  21. Sims, Anastatia Hodgens and Katherine Knapp Keena. "Juliette Low's Gift: Girl Scouting in Savannah, 1912-1927." Georgia Historical Quarterly. Fall2010, Vol. 94 Issue 3 (2010): 372-387.
  22. "Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts." Kirkus Reviews 1 December 2011.
  23. "Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts." Kirkus Reviews 1 December 2011.
  24. Patton, Donna Alice. "A Daisy of a Girl Scout: Juliette Gordon Low." History Magazine (2011): 24-26.
  25. Patton, Donna Alice. "A Daisy of a Girl Scout: Juliette Gordon Low." History Magazine (2011): 24-26.
  26. "Juliette Gordon Low Biography: Founder of Girl Scouts of the USA." Girl Scouts of America