Juliette Daisy Gordon Low

March 12, 2012 by staff 

Juliette Daisy Gordon Low, In Savannah, Georgia, 100 years ago Juliette Gordon Low gathered 18 girls who she thought would enjoy crafts, sports, the outdoors and just being together.

That may seem similar to what many of you do today, and it should: That was the first meeting of what would become the Girl Scouts of the USA. But life was very different in 1912: There were no computers, cellphones or even televisions. Women and girls wore more-formal clothes, and women were fighting for the right to vote in elections. But even though they lived in a different time, these early Girl Scouts were interested in doing community service, being part of a sisterhood and having fun, just as they are now.

Low, who was nicknamed “Daisy,” had grown up as a wealthy Southern belle. She enjoyed painting and performing in plays. Daisy loved animals and had many throughout her life, including dogs, cats and a parrot. She met and married a handsome young man named William Mackay Low, whom she called “Billow.” Together they moved to England in 1887, where Daisy met Queen Victoria and the couple lived an aristocratic life. But she also had some difficulties.

When she was in her 20s, Daisy became partially deaf in one ear when an infection wasn’t treated properly. Then, on her wedding day, a grain of rice became lodged in her other ear, which eventually caused her to lose most of the hearing in that ear as well. Later in life, Daisy would use her deafness to her advantage, often pretending to not understand people when they said they couldn’t volunteer or donate to her beloved Girl Scouts.

Daisy’s marriage started well but became unhappy. Billow wanted to divorce, but he died in 1905 before that happened.

An idea is born

After Billow died, Daisy was lost. They had no children, and she wasn’t sure what to do with the rest of her life. Then one day, she happened to be seated next to a charming man at a luncheon in London. He was Sir Robert Baden-Powell, whom everyone called “B-P,” and he had founded the Boy Scouts just a few years earlier. He had a problem: Girls — thousands of them — were trying to join the Boy Scouts. They showed up at a big rally with homemade uniforms and signed in with their initials. He wanted there to be a group for girls, but he needed help running it. As Daisy and B-P talked, Daisy, who was now in her early 50s, became interested in starting a scouting group for girls, not only in England but also in the United States.

When she returned to Georgia, Daisy telephoned her cousin and said: “Come right over! I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!”

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