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Juliet Gordon "Daisy" Low: A Centennial Tribute

Updated on November 18, 2016
Seafarer Mama profile image

Seafarer Mama/Karen is a joyfully home-schooling parent who holds a B.A. in Psychology and M.Ed. in Elementary Education.

The Story of Daisy's Gift to Girls Everywhere

One Hundred Years of Girl Scouts ~

The Girl Scouts have been active in America for almost 100 years. This year is the most exciting because it is the centennial year!. All girl scouts should know the story of their founder, and how she established an organization through which girls develop their power to succeed in the world. This hub is my "thank you" card to Juliette, a most remarkable woman.

My Girl Scout Days

My girl scout sash, the bandanna I loved to wear, and the friendship stick from camp
My girl scout sash, the bandanna I loved to wear, and the friendship stick from camp | Source

Birth, Childhood, and Family History ~

Juliette Gordon Low was born on October 31, 1860 and lived most of her life in Savannah, Georgia. When she was born, her father said, "she's going to be a daisy," and this is how "Daisy" became her nickname,

Daisy Low was a very unique young lady with lots of energy. She loved to play outdoors with her siblings and cousins, care for animals, write, act, draw, and paint. She was also a great storyteller. Her favorite story to hear and tell was about her great-great-grandmother Eleanor, who was captured by Seneca Chief Cornplanter, who called her "Little ship at full sail." She also loved being called this name by her grandparents.

Adulthood Adventures

In 1886, she married William Mackay Low, whom she nicknamed "Billow." He was a traditional English gentleman who loved to travel and lead hunting parties, so she was left many days on her own at their home in England, which they named Wellesbourne. While her husband was away, she wrote letters to her family, carved a mantelpiece, created many oil paintings of their hunting dogs, and attended social gatherings. She also learned ironmongery from a local Blacksmith. With the knowledge she learned from him, she made her own tools and created an iron gate for the entrance to their home. It was during this time that she also made friends with Rudyard Kipling.

Daisy Low had a generous heart, so during the Spanish American War (1898), during which her father was a general, she helped soldiers in the convalescent hospitals. On one occasion, she walked many miles to milk a cow, a skill she learned as a child, so that the soldiers with fever would survive the night.

Because Daisy did not bear any children of her own, was very generous and caring toward her nieces and nephews. She took them traveling and always spent Christmas with her family.

In the early 1900s she lost her hearing because a doctor treated an earache with mercury. But this did not deter her from her travels and striving to learn new skills. She kept her usual pace and was much beloved by her family and friends.

In 1910, she turned 50 years old, and marked this milestone by traveling to Paris to take sculpting classes.

Books about Daisy and the Girl Scouts

The Beginning of a Remarkable Journey

In 1911, Daisy attended a luncheon in England and met Sir Robert Baden-Powell, who was the founder of the Boy Scouts. His goals for the boys were to foster a sense of service to their country and to guide them to develop the skills and qualities that would enable them to be self-sufficient, honorable, and skillful citizens throughout their lives. This inspired Daisy to begin a movement that would do the same for girls, which she called "Girl Guides" in the U.K.

In August of 1911, Daisy invited a group of 7 girls to her home in Scotland, Lochs Castle, for their first Girl Guides meeting. She taught them to read a map, tie a knot, and commit to memory the Girl Guide Promise. She fed them tea, biscuits, and strawberries with cream.

Daisy and the girls had a wonderful first meeting, so they continued to meet each Saturday morning. During these meetings, she taught them sewing skills so that they could make their own uniforms, first aid, cooking simple meals, and spinning (which she learned to do in order to teach them), and bought chickens for them to raise for eggs. One of her adult guests was a naturalist, so he taught the girls to identify wild plants and animals.

One of her goals was to foster self-reliance in the girls, and ways to earn money for their families so that they did not have to leave their homes to take factory jobs far away. When she was in London, she arranged with a shop owner to purchase all of the yarn that the Scottish girls spun. She recruited the local postmistress to lead the group while she left to begin others.

Her success with this first group encouraged her to start two troops in London. She taught these girls to also sew their own uniforms, cook, and play sports such as basketball. When she was ready to return to the United States to initiate scouting activities in the U.S., she recruited women to take over as leaders for the two troops that had been established.

Girl Scouts in America

Daisy Low settled in Savannah, close to her family, after her husband Billow passed away, and used the carriage house in back of her home as the place to hold girl scout meetings. She changed the name from "girl guides" to "girl scouts" and worked with local girls to learn the same skills she taught the girl guides in Scotland and London. One day, the girls became so good at bandaging each other up as first aid practice, they alarmed their mothers during tea by showing off their efforts.

On March 12, 1912, the Girl Scouts became an official national organization, and the first girl scout in history was her namesake, a cousin named Margaret "Daisy Doots" Gordon. Two patrols were formed immediately - the Pink Carnations and the White Roses. In addition to the Girl Scout Guide, each girl was required to carry a notebook and pencil, to take notes about all the skills they were learning.

Through Daisy's efforts, letters, and dedication to the scouts, the movement grew in popularity, and she worked to grow a national organization. Edith Macy was one of the first secretaries at the Girl Scout Headquarters in Washington, D.C, which later moved to New York City.

During WWI, the Girl Scouts knitted sweaters and scarves for the U.S. soldiers fighting abroad. They also honored the First Lady of President Woodrow Wilson as the Honorary President of the Girl Scouts. In 2011, this position is held by Michelle Obama.

Daisy funded all of the needs of the Girl Scouts so that they did not have to pay dues. She wanted very much for all the girls to be equal, without regard for socioeconomic status. When her own money began to run out, she sold a prized string of pearls to keep funding their activities.

Daisy lived to see the Third World Encampment of girl scout leaders and international dignitaries in May of 1926. It was the first in America, and took place at Camp Edith Macy in Pleasantville, NY. She passed away in January of 1927, and was succeeded by Anne Hyde Choate as the President of the Girl Scouts of America.

Girl Scouts are Leaders

Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts
Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts

Girls have been learning to develop their roles as civil leaders in the communities they belong to. This book shares stories of how Girl Scouts as an organization has been encouraging girls to confidently voice their convictions to groups both small and large.

 

Thank You, Daisy!

Thank you Daisy, for putting your independent spirit toward establishing one of the best organizations in history through which girls may empower themselves to contribute their talents to their communities through hard work and leadership. Thank you for using your social gracefulness and storytelling gifts to promote the Girl Scouts, and to raise funds for all of the scouts' activities. Thank you for leading girls to essential knowledge of the world, of teaching them basic skills for helping themselves and others, and for giving your life to establishing an organization that is on their side, always.

Some of my fondest memories were of the Girl Scout Day Camp, Camp Rippin, which I attended on the grounds of Camp Edith Macy. I also enjoyed all the skills I learned on the way of earning the badges that my mother lovingly sewed onto my sash. Some of the girls I camped and learned with are friends today, even if only through Facebook. We are still girl scout sisters.

The GIrl Scout Promise

On my honor I will try

To do my duty to God and my country,

to help other people at all times,

and to obey the Girl Scout Law.

(*The American version)

© 2011 Karen A Szklany

Comments

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    • Seafarer Mama profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen A Szklany 

      6 years ago from New England

      Very interesting piece of information. I gather that you have been a girl scout and care enough about Juliette Gordon Low to read about her and learn about her life. Thank you for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.

    • profile image

      mgblazer@aol.co, 

      6 years ago

      one correction to this story--It wasn't her father that said she was a "Daisy" when she was born, it was her uncle who really said it.

    • Seafarer Mama profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen A Szklany 

      7 years ago from New England

      Thank you very much, Qudsia. :0)

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 

      7 years ago

      I always fancied being a girl scout however, never got to it. :/

      Excellent hub. :)

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