Juliette Gordon Low
- Born: Oct. 31, 1860
- Birthplace: Savannah, Ga.
- Education: Attended several prominent boarding schools
- Family background: From a prominent southern family; father was a Confederate General in the Civil War.
- Died: Jan. 17, 1927, age 66 (of cancer)
The Girl Scouting movement owes its success to many historical figures, one of the foremost of which is Juliette Gordon Low, who founded the Girl Scouts in 1912. Her vision, benevolence and fortitude has enabled thousands of girls to grow up into fine upstanding citizens.
Born Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon, she was called “Daisy” from birth. Her father was William Washington Gordon, a Confederate general in the Civil War. As a small child she fell ill with brain fever, which permanently damaged her hearing. Growing up she was educated in all the finest boarding schools and exhibited an aptitude in sculpting and an interest in animals.
In 1886, Daisy married William Mackay “Willy” Low, a British heir. During the ceremony a grain of wedding rice lodged in her ear and caused infection. This aggravated her already weak hearing and Daisy would experience increasing deafness throughout the rest of her life. For most of their nineteen years of marriage the Lows resided in Willy’s native Great Britain. Although they frequented many social events, the union ultimately became unhappy as Willy took to drinking and philandering. They were in the process of divorce when William Mackay Low died suddenly of paralysis in 1905. He left the bulk of his estate to his mistress, leaving Daisy quite dejected. She spent the next several years globetrotting through Europe and India.
In 1911, while in Scotland, Daisy met Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the British Boy Scouts. She became keenly interested in the scouting movement and during that year she organized a troop of Girl Guides (the female equivalent of the Boy Scouts) among poor girls at her estate at Glenlyon, Scotland. She later founded two more troops in London. Then on March 12, 1912, Daisy established the first troop of Girl Guides in the United States in her native Savannah, Georgia. Through her steadfast promotion the movement grew rapidly, becoming the Girl Scouts in 1913. The organization was incorporated in 1915 with the national headquarters at Washington, D.C. Daisy served as president until 1920 when she was bestowed the rightful title of founder.
For fifteen years Daisy devoted time, energy and finances to the movement. She elicited major support and raised money throughout the U.S; she was a frequent guest at campfires. In an effort to expand her organization, she tried to merge with the Campfire Girls. The attempt failed, however due to administrative disputes. Daisy oversaw the composition of the Girl Scout handbook How Girls Can Help Their Country and in 1919 she was naturally the representative at the first international meeting of Girl Scouts and Guides.
Eccentric, yet charming, Daisy once stood on her head at an early scout board meeting to display the new Girl Scout shoes she was wearing. Because her work was so hands-on, young girls revered here far and wide. In 1923 Daisy developed cancer. She kept her illness a secret and dauntlessly continued her efforts. She was instrumental in organizing the world Girl Scout conference in the United States in 1926. Less than a year later, on Jan. 17, 1927, at the age of sixty-six, Juliette Gordon Low died of cancer in Savannah. The membership in the Girl Scouts by this time numbered 140,000. She was buried in the uniform of the organization she founded. Low’s biography courtesy of Women in History. See Girl Scouts of the USA, Official Website: http://www.girlscouts.org/about/birthplace/biography.html
Women In History
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