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:

Okinawa Girl Scouts, Girl Scout History Project
Photo of Troop 50

A few months later, one of these adorable hula dancers contacted me!

Okinawa Girl Scouts, Girl Scout History Project
Cheryll Greenwood Kinsley, second girl from the left

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.

Okinawa Girl Scouts, Girl Scout History Project
Cheryll’s Girl Scout sash and furoshiki from Okinawa, Japan

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.

4 responses to “Those Okinawa Girl Scouts”

  1. Mary Gibbs Manwaring Avatar
    Mary Gibbs Manwaring

    Please enter address where donations of G.S. Materials can be send.

    1. We will gladly accept them at Nation’s Capital, but if you have a council name I’ll try to get the latest address to you.

  2. Julie Lineberry Avatar
    Julie Lineberry

    Super! You are doing such a great job!

    1. Thank you Julie!!

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