Historians and genealogists alike spend hours studying old photographs, hoping to add names and places to anonymous faces. We look for clues to help make an educated guess. In Girl Scouts that means looking at the uniforms and badge sashes, which usually narrow the possibilities to one decade.
Sometimes we get very lucky, and people in the mystery photos contact us.
In March 2020, the Archives and History Committee of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital installed a display about Girl Scouting in Japan. We thought the timing was perfect–the famous Washington cherry blossom trees were budding, and we had recently acquired three scrapbooks from Girl Scout troops based in Okinawa, Japan, in the 1950s.
As it happened, however, our timing was waaaay off. As we locked the last display case in the lobby of Council headquarters, executive staff emerged from a meeting and announced that the office was closing indefinitely due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Since no one could see the exhibit in person, I did several blog posts (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) that include photos and clippings from the Okinawa scrapbooks. Many came from a March 2, 1957, international festival attended by local American and Japanese troops. This is one of my favorites:
A few months later, one of these adorable hula dancers contacted me!
Cheryll Greenwood Kinsley was a member of Okinawa Troop 50 from 1956 to 1959. Recently, she was downsizing and searched online for someplace to donate her sash. She was astonished not only to find interest in her old troop, but a photo of herself!
She kindly donated her sash to Nation’s Capital as well as a furoshiki–a printed cloth used to wrap gifts. Girl Scout troops in Okinawa sold them as a fundraiser.
These items enrich the scrapbooks in our collection, giving current Girl Scouts a tangible connection to the past.
Thank you Cheryll!
PS: The Okinawa exhibit remained in place for a year, and the council offices had partly reopened by the 2021 cherry blossom season.
©2022 Ann Robertson, writer, editor, and Girl Scout historian