On Sunday, June 26, the Nation’s Capital Archives & History Program Center in Frederick, Maryland, opened its doors to the public.
The Center’s grand opening was September 19, 2015, and programs are held there for troops on the 3rd Saturday and Sunday each month. Otherwise, the all-volunteer-operated center is open by appointment only.
We are re-evaluating hours and program opportunities for the 2016-2017 Girl Scout year and hope to have more drop-in days. We are also planning a few training classes for adult volunteers.
I was especially happy to finally meet fellow Girl Scout Historian Sandy Dent in person. She’s with the Central Maryland council, and we’ve been Facebook friends for years. Most of the photos here are hers. (Thanks Sandy!)
One guest–and now a new committee member–had several questions about former camps. She also shared memories of wading at camps in the 1960s. That reminded me of one of the most treasured items in our collection, the Murray Camp Scroll. Naturally, I had to pull it out.
The scroll is the 1960 Camp Committee report, but rendered in a truly unique fashion. The scroll is about 80 feet long and was donated by the family of Ann Murray, a former Camp Committee chair. Isn’t it amazing?
Archives and History Committee members LOVE to share our collection. If you haven’t been able to schedule a visit yet, contact me (email@example.com), we’ll try to work something out.
Last Friday my Girl Scout troop took a day trip to New York City. One stop was GSUSA and the National Historic Preservation Center. None of the nine girls and two co-advisors had ever been to headquarters, so I was looking forward to showing them around. I’m also very happy that co-advisor Sylvie Warren brought her camera and took these wonderful photos!
After a very early morning bus ride from Bethesda, Maryland, we explored Times Square and Rockefeller Plaza, then headed south on Fifth Avenue to 37th Street, the main entrance to GSUSA at 420 Fifth Avenue.
Entrance to 420 Fifth Avenue
I had reservations for a 2 pm tour, and lunch at 1 pm in the GSUSA cafeteria on the 11th floor. There I ran into two NHPC staff members, consultant Martha Foley and Senior Archivist Yevgeniya Gribov, who would be giving our tour.
Yevgeniya Gribov and I.
After lunch, we headed up to the 17th floor for the National Historic Preservation Center. Yevgeniya greeted us in the lobby (where the girls quickly spotted the large jars of GS cookies). She told us the history of NHPC and led us into the document storage room. Although we could only look, not rummage through the boxes at will, it was still a treat. I made sure the girls realized that as many times as I’d done research at NHPC, I’d never been into the secure room before!
Next, we went into the museum portion of NHPC, where I introduced the girls to Chief Strategist Pamela Cruz and Archivist Diane Russo.
Then we had time to explore the historical displays. My troop has been to the Nation’s Capital archives on several occasions, but there were plenty of items they had never seen before.
But their favorite part was watching The Golden Eaglet, a silent promotional film made in 1918. The girls decided they should start saluting their leader, like the girls in the film. I have no problem with that.
Troop 2890 was here!
Most of my troop is in the 11th or 12th grade and will be heading off to college soon. If nothing else, I know they understand that there is far more to Girl Scouting than just our troop. They’ve worked with other troops, been to day and resident camp, Rocked the Mall, visited Rockwood, and one even worked with pandas in China on a Destination trip. They also know about the women and girls who came before them, and how the Girl Scouting has responded to social change.
They are the newest generation in a long line of courageous, strong women, and our movement is lucky to have them.
I have the greatest troop of Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts.
They are unfailingly kind, generous, smart, funny, and always willing to be guinea pigs in whatever crazy scheme I come up with.
Over the years we’ve rung in the New Year with movie marathons at our local camp, gone to DC Roller Girls matches, walked the length of the National Mall on the hottest day of the year, debated proper attire for vampires, and collected nearly 200 bras for victims of domestic violence. They have gamely tried out possible activities for my patch programs about princesses, Barbies, and the Hunger Games.
Since I became chair of the Nation’s Capital Archives and History Committee in 2012, they have become Girl Scout historians, too. They have visited local sites with Girl Scout history ties, such as Peirce Mill and Rockwood Manor. They spent one meeting arranging a suitcase full of old teen uniforms in chronological order and critiquing the style and fabric. Last year, over winter break, a group dismantled, relocated, and reassembled the Committee’s storage area when the council headquarters received new carpet.
Yesterday, I took a carload of girls to the warehouse in Northeast Washington, DC, where the majority of our collection is housed. Our two storage units are packed to the brim, so I limited the trip to four girls. Would you believe I had a waiting list? Let’s review: I had teenage girls on winter break clamoring to go to a warehouse. A warehouse!
I didn’t know we had old GS bathing suits!
We spent about two hours at the warehouse, carrying out several missions. I had old Leader magazines to return and needed to borrow some Rockwood materials for research. We also had a request requiring some old camp uniforms and a roundup hat, so we located those and talked about what roundups were.
Everyone loves old hats!
Our main goal was to locate items for an upcoming display about cookie patches and prizes over the years. The girls are working on the old Museum Discovery Interest Project, and the display will satisfy some of those requirements. But there’s more to the cookie display project than just earning a badge.
The Museum Discovery Interest Project
Next year Nation’s Capital will open a dedicated history program center at a former field office in Frederick, Maryland. I am beyond excited by the prospect of permanent displays and being able to better share our collection with our members and the community.
We’re still working out what types of programs will be offered in Frederick, but I hope there will be a mix of “for girls” and “by girls” on the menu. I visited the First Headquarters in Savannah last summer and was so impressed that teens from the Historic Georgia Council work at the museum and lead most of the programs. I would love to implement a similar model for Nation’s Capital, perhaps even creating a History Program Aide specialty.
Working with my own troop has confirmed that, with proper instruction, girls can handle artifacts appropriately and responsibly. I try to reinforce with my girls that there is a huge, wonderful world of Girl Scouting out there beyond our troop. They enjoy seeing how they fit into our timeline, discovering what has changed and what has stayed the same.
Above all, they prove that Girl Scouts want to learn more about Girl Scout history. I can’t wait to give them and other troops that opportunity.