An Afternoon with Fran Randall

This week I had the pleasure of meeting Frances A. Randall, a true pioneer of Girl Scouting in Frederick County, Maryland.

Fran (r) tells Betsy Thurston (c) and I how to kill a snake on a hiking trail.

Fran (r) tells Betsy Thurston (c) and I how to kill a snake on a hiking trail (GSCNC photo).

Frannie, who just turned 90 years young, joined Frederick’s Troop 5 in 1938 and has been involved non-stop since then.

The future Mrs. Randall worked at Braddock Heights day camp in 1944.

The future Mrs. Randall worked at Braddock Heights day camp in 1944 (GSCNC archives).

I enjoyed telling her about Nation’s Capital’s plans for a Girl Scout history program center in Frederick and brought several old scrapbooks for her to look through.

In one of the scrapbooks, Fran found a newspaper she and her brother had published in 1942. Today, the Randall family publishes the Frederick News-Post.

In one of the scrapbooks, Fran found a newspaper she and her brother had published in 1942. Today, the Randall family publishes the Frederick News-Post (GSCNC archives).

We spent the afternoon swapping stories about troops, camping, council mergers,  National Center West, writing books about local history, and trips to Russia. We also compared notes about attending Girl Scout National Conventions in Houston, TX, in 1981 (Frannie) and 2011 (me).

We agreed to get together again in a few weeks with the right equipment to capture her wonderful memories and stories about Girl Scouting in Frederick County.

©2014 Ann Robertson

The Girl Scout Red Scare, part four

Technical issues delayed this final installment of the Girl Scout Red Scare, but I have a treat that is worth the wait!

On August 6, 1954, the Illinois chapter of the American Legion passed a resolution withdrawing American Legion support for the Girl Scouts for supposedly subversive, anti-American content in its 1953 Intermediate handbook.

GSUSA President Olivia Layton  contacted Irving Breakstone, the newly elected commander of the Illinois chapter, to discuss the matter. Breakstone distanced himself from the Clammage resolution and assured Layton that it would never reach the floor of the National American Legion convention, set for August 30-September 2 in Washington, DC.

Breakstone was wrong.

The Illinois resolution, retyped from a file at GSUSA NHPC.

The Illinois resolution, retyped from a file at GSUSA NHPC.

Legionnaires from across the United States gathered at the Washington Armory over Labor Day weekend, 1954, and voted on a series of proposals calling for vigilance against communism, including  universal military training. They passed a resolution praising McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Regarding the Girl Scouts, convention delegates commended GSUSA for taking “remedial action” (revisions underway long before the Legionnaires got worked up over the handbook) and called on GSUSA to disclose the author(s) who had inserted the “un-American influences” into the text and whether or not they still worked for the Girl Scouts.

Furthermore, Legion National Commander Arthur J. Connell reneged on a promise to let the Girl Scouts defend themselves if the handbook issue made it to the floor.

GSUSA President Olivia Layton at the 1957 Roundup (GSCNC Archives).

GSUSA President Olivia Layton at the 1957 Roundup (GSCNC Archives).

Layton was furious, especially as she lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and could have been at the convention with less than an hour’s notice. Layton blasted the vote, saying,

They promised to get in touch with me if anything at all was to be done. Then they went ahead and did this, without even letting me know a thing about it, until I read in the paper Wednesday that the resolution had been passed.

Connell’s reply seemed to suggest that Layton should find a scapegoat to preserve the movement’s wholesome image:

All organizations, including the American Legion, could be infiltrated, and it seems to be that it might be well for the Girl Scout leaders to see who in their organization was responsible for the changes in their handbook, that ought to be blamed rather than any individual in the Legion.

As it turns out, the author of the Intermediate Handbook was Margarite Hall, an old friend of Nation’s Capital who worked at Camp May Flather when the camp opened in 1930 and later on the council staff.  In 1953 she was the Intermediate Program Advisor at GSUSA and hardly a rabble-rouser.

Hall previewed new badges in the May 1953 Leader magazine.

Hall previewed new badges in the May 1953 Leader magazine.

Hall introduced the 1953 Handbook in the October 1953 Leader magazine.

Hall introduced the 1953 Handbook in the October 1953 Leader magazine.

Although the controversy over the Handbook had to be frightening at the time, by 1990 Hall could laugh about the incident, as she did in a 1990 presentation at Rockwood Manor, outside Washington DC.

Now that the recording of the presentation has been digitized, I’ll let Margie have the last word on the Girl Scout Red Scare:

 

 

©2014 Ann Robertson

Princess Pat Carved from a Tree

Every camper’s favorite princess is being honored with a new statue in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Sculptor James McMahon is carving the image out of the trunk of a spruce tree.

While we know that the correct lyrics of the popular camp song are not “The Princess Pat lived in a tree.…” perhaps they can be updated to “…carved from a tree”?

James McMahon at work on his statue of Patricia of Connaught (NovaNewsNow.com)

James McMahon at work on his statue of Patricia of Connaught (NovaNewsNow.com)

 

 

Girls Scouts, the Great War, and the Great Flu

The Washington Post recently compared the influenza epidemic of 1918 to the current Ebola outbreak, but the newspaper left out the Girl Scout part of the story.

From late 1918 through early 1919, a particularly nasty strain of flu killed 50 million people worldwide and some 500,000 in the United States. Washington, DC, was particularly hard hit because the city was overflowing with federal workers (“living three or four to a room in private homes and boarding houses”) and soldiers passing through on their way to or from the World War I front.

The Girl Scouts had already mobilized to sell sandwiches, cake, and ice cream to soldiers and war workers.  One girl, Edna Schwartz, recalled making stacks and stacks of egg and ham sandwiches and setting up a stand near the Corcoran Gallery of Art at lunchtime. They put those skills to work as a new enemy attacked.

When the Spanish flu brought Washington to a near-standstill in October 1918, the Girl Scouts set up a Diet Kitchen first at Central High School, then later at 1101 M Street NW. Girls who had earned their Invalid Cook badge worked from dawn to dark making soup, broth, custard, and gelatins. Volunteers delivered the hot meals to patients throughout the city. Leaders had to make a public appeal for drivers and containers to meet the demand. Some 2,180 patients were served from the high school and a total of 7,821 patients at the peak of the epidemic. Troop 60 put on a play and sang songs, charging 10 cents a head, and raised $25 for supplies.

Washington's Central (later Cardozo) High School became a Girl Scout Diet Kitchen in October 1918. General Pershing and the American Expeditionary Forces visited the school a few months later.

Washington’s Central (later Cardozo) High School became a Girl Scout Diet Kitchen in October 1918. General Pershing and the American Expeditionary Forces visited the school a few months later (Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress).

The Diet Kitchen was such a success that Susie Root Rhodes, DC Supervisor of Playgrounds, asked the Girl Scouts to also distribute soup at playgrounds in two of Washington’s poorest neighborhoods. This meal often was the only meal, certainly the only hot meal, that many of these children received each day while their mothers worked or were ill.

Ms. Rhodes credited the Girl Scouts with saving the lives of people too poor to afford doctors and preventing malnourished children from succumbing to influenza.

 

©2014 Ann Robertson

 

 

 

 

Scanner Pro: My Favorite Archival Resource

Scanner Pro: My Favorite Archival Resource

I am a huge fan of Scanner Pro, which I use to capture documents while I am working in archives. Scanner Pro is an application from Readdle and is available for the iOS platform.  It works on my iPhone, but I mainly use it on my iPad Mini. The app uses the device’s built-in camera to scan documents ranging in size from receipts to newspaper pages.Scanner Pro

Documents can be scanned individually or in batches.  After taking the initial image, Scanner Pro suggests image borders, which the user can adjust.  Next, the user can define the image size (A4, Letter, Legal, Tabloid and more) and type (color photo, black and white text, or grayscale).

Images are saved on the device and can be uploaded as JPGs or PDFs to Dropbox, Evernote,  emailed, or printed.

Scanner Pro is also ideal for documenting the bulky scrapbooks in our council collection. For example, we have a delightful scrapbook assembled by Mrs. Pansy Gregg when her Senior Girl Scout troop toured Europe in 1964. She preserved photos and dozens of souvenirs, especially of daily life aboard the H.M.S. Queen Mary, the ocean liner that carried the troop across the Atlantic.

The app makes it easy to capture the full two-page spreads in her scrapbook.

The inside front cover of Pansy Gregg's  scrapbook.

The inside front cover of Pansy Gregg’s scrapbook. I enlarged this to poster-size and have it hanging in my office.

 

An elegant luncheon served aboard the Queen Mary on July 30, 1964

An elegant luncheon served aboard the Queen Mary on July 30, 1964

Senior Troop 1027 boards the Queen Mary en route to Pax Lodge and Our Chalet.

Senior Troop 1027 boards the Queen Mary en route to Pax Lodge and Our Chalet.

 

For screenshots of the app in action, see AppStorm’s review of Scanner Pro.

Apple Computer named Scanner Pro one of its Amazing Productivity Apps of 2014, and slashed the price from $6.99 to $2.99.

Let’s Make Downloading Badges Legal

The 53rd Girl Scout National Convention is just a week away!! One of the highlights is always the super shop, with hundreds (thousands?) of Girl Scout goodies.

Of course, any mention of official Girl Scout products inevitably leads to complaints that the handbooks, badges, etc. cost too much. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I have no problem paying for Girl Scout books.

As a writer and editor, words are literally my income. I know that every book has an author, and I know that writing is hard work. Authors deserve to be paid. That is why it really bothers me to see leaders sharing photocopies of badge inserts or websites advertising free downloads of scanned journey books.  (While I don’t get paid to write this blog, it is an opportunity for potential clients to get to know me better.)

Junior Technology, the first online badge, was introduced in 1997.

Junior Technology, the first online badge, was introduced in 1997. Today’s Girl Scout can’t find any requirements online without breaking the law.

Let’s be honest and fair and admit that distributing bootleg scans of journey books and badge requirements constitutes theft. It is taking a person’s hard work without paying for it. Go ahead, argue “sharing” and “sisterhood” all you want, but if thieves share stolen goods among themselves, it does not make the theft acceptable. Would you walk into a Girl Scout shop, pocket a handful of badges, and walk out without paying? This is no different.

Let’s resolve to respect authority, including copyright law. The bootleggers know they are breaking the law, which explains why they try to shout down anyone who calls them out with nasty comments and name calling. Do we really have to put labels on every page, photo, design, etc. saying “Not yours. Don’t steal”?

I agree that the current program materials are a bit pricey, but I also realize that buyers are shouldering the cost of sales lost to illegal download sites.  I don’t think the Girl Scout way is to sneak around and try to subvert the system.

Instead, let’s ask GSUSA to make program publications available digitally for legal, inexpensive downloading. The Boy Scouts already make many of their badge guides available through Amazon Kindle. Would you pay $1.00 for a PDF of a badge insert? Perhaps $5 for a digital journey book? Sign me up.

Tell GSUSA that you’d like to legally download publications for your troop. I’ve started a Facebook page for people who like this idea: Girl Scout Publication PDFs Please.

Nation's Capital has a copy of the Trefoil Patent application.

Nation’s Capital has a copy of the Trefoil Patent application.

I think our founder would approve of this proposal.  Juliette Gordon Low understood the importance of intellectual property rights and secured a patent for the trefoil symbol.  She applied for the patent on November 23, 1913, and received it on February 10, 1914.

When Low decided to step down from the day-to-day operations of Girl Scouting in 1921, GSUSA asked that she surrender the patent to the organization.  She agreed, but on her own terms.

Stacy Cordery, Low’s recent biographer, recounts how Daisy shrewdly agreed to assign the patent to GSUSA in exchange for keeping her name on the organization’s Constitution, stationery, and membership cards in perpetuity.

Juliette Gordon Low had two patents of her own.

Juliette Gordon Low had two patents of her own. (Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress)

Daisy actually had two patents. The other is for the “Pluto Bag,” a stand-up trash bin for liquids. It reminds me of an origami project that got way out of control.

Want to learn more about intellectual property? The Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital has a their own intellectual property patch program for all age levels.

See you in Salt Lake City!

© 2014 by Ann Robertson

 

 

From Washington in 1915 to Salt Lake City in 2014: Girl Scout Conventions

I’m counting down the days until the 53rd Girl Scout Convention convenes in Salt Lake City, UT, on October 16, 2014. I’ll be heading west earlier for the Girl Scout History Conference, which begins on October 14.

To mark the occasion, the GSCNC Archives and History Committee has installed a new exhibit about Girl Scout conventions.

First, here’s a quick FAQ on conventions:

What is a Girl Scout convention?

Held every three years, conventions include formal National Council Sessions, plus trainings, a history conference, guest speakers, exhibits, a girl Leadership Institute, songs, and friendships to make and renew.

Convention name badge for Virginia Hammerley, a staff member of the Girl Scouts of the District of Columbia.

Convention name badge for Virginia Hammerley, a staff member of the Girl Scouts of the District of Columbia.

What is the National Council?

Comprised of delegates from each council, the National Council is charged with giving broad direction to the future of the Girl Scout Movement. It is the major link between Girl Scout councils and the national organization. Each council is allotted delegates based on its membership level. Nation’s Capital, the largest council in the country, is sending 36 delegates. Any registered member age 14 and over can be a delegate. With delegates, alternates, staff, and “official visitors” (like me), the Nation’s Capital delegation has 94 Girl Scouts Utah-bound.

 

What will the National Council do?

There are three resolutions on the agenda:

  • Allowing GSUSA to offer new membership formats (now we have just two: 12-month and lifetime; exactly what new formats is not specified in the resolution).
  • Having the GSUSA chief financial officer report to the chief executive officer, not the national board of directors.
  • Changing the ex officio, non-voting status of past GSUSA presidents to voting members of the national board of directors.

There also will be a much-anticipated discussion about the role of the outdoors in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

Delegates receive policy proposals ahead of time, along with their council’s perspective on specific issues, such as lowering the minimum age to include 5-year-olds.

Delegates receive policy proposals ahead of time, along with their council’s perspective on specific issues, such as lowering the minimum age to include 5-year-olds.

 

Has the National Council Session ever met in Washington, DC?

Yes, three times: 1915 (the first session), 1923, and 1975.

 

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When is the next convention?

2017 in Columbus, OH.

 

 

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Make New Friends, But Keep the Old….

Salt Lake City will be my second Girl Scout convention.  It will be hard to top my first, Houston in 2011.  I knew I would see my high school troop-mate Elizabeth Brooke-Willbanks in Houston, as she worked for the Girl Scout Council of Central and Western Massachusetts. But what we didn’t expect was to run into our Cadette and Senior leaders, who just happened in be in Houston for a different event. I hadn’t seen any of them in at least 20 years, but it felt more like 20 minutes.  What a wonderful surprise that was.