If Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts of the United States, were alive today, would she be surprised to see the organization flourishing more than a century later? Probably not. She had organized the first Troop in Savannah in March 1912 and worked tirelessly to spread the movement throughout the country. At the time of her death in 1927, there were more than 140,000 Girl Scouts serving in Troops spanning every U.S. State. Today, that number has grown to 1.7 million girls and 750,000 adult volunteers.
Girl Scouts officially came to the Greater Los Angeles region in the early 1920s and have been a constant ever since. Serving girls grades K-12 of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, the organization has provided its members with opportunities to engage with and serve their communities in a unique fashion. In the process, Troops gain valuable insight into how their neighborhoods function and are exposed to the great outdoors. Girl Scouts serve their communities, and their communities serve them.
Throughout the past 100 years, cameras have captured scouting throughout the region and the Photo Collection of the Los Angeles Public Library reflects this. The Herald Examiner and Valley Times newspapers were always quick to cover Girl Scout events and accomplishments, but local photographers like Rolland Curtis and Harry Quillen also documented local troops with some frequency. Our Shades of L.A. collection of family photos demonstrate the value residents have placed on Scouting over the years, and the Los Angeles Public Library’s own institutional collection shows that Girls Scouts have always numbered among our valued patrons.
Southern California Girl Scouts were originally organized under numerous independent councils but have operated collectively as Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles since 2008. The organization has changed and adapted with the times while continuing to honor many long-standing traditions as it enters its second century of serving local Girl Scouts. Juliette Gordon Low would certainly be proud, even if she were not surprised.
— Christina Rice, Senior Librarian, Photo Collection/Los Angeles Public Library