Girl Scouts during 'The Great War'
We have just recently opened a new exhibition entitled, Girl Scouts during 'The Great War,' which explores the role Girl Scouts played one-hundred years ago during World War I and how their service supported the troops and homefront.
The show is presented in conjunction with the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Archives Group. For two years, the committee has worked to recreate a vintage 1917 Norfolk Suit-style adult Girl Scout uniform for the museum. The suit is on display alongside historic photographs of Girl Scouts performing wartime service activities, including needlework, gardening, and selling Liberty Bonds. Visitors will be able to learn about the specific requirements to obtain badges and service awards during wartime.
In 1917, six months after the United States entered World War I, Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, asked First Lady Edith Bolling Wilson to become the Honorary National President of Girl Scouts. Mrs. Wilson accepted, saying that she hoped that the organization’s undertakings “may meet in the future with all the success that it has had in the past.” In 1918, the Girl Scouts presented a “Thanks Badge” to Mrs. Wilson that was designed by Cartier in diamonds, emeralds, and a ruby (Edith donated the piece back to the Girl Scouts of the United States of America in 1958).
Mrs. Wilson honored the patriotic service of Girl Scouts and encouraged them to be active in contributing to the war effort by selling Liberty Bonds, knitting clothing for soldiers, learning first aid, and communicating in Morse code -- the same activities Edith undertook as First Lady during the Great War.
In the past one hundred years since Edith’s inauguration, seventeen First Ladies have held this position, modeling the mission of Girl Scouts: “courage, confidence, and character.”
The facsimile 1917 Norfolk Suit was the uniform worn by Girl Scout Captains, Lieutenants, Commissioners, and national and local Councilors from 1919 to 1928. It would have been what Mrs. Wilson would have worn in her role as Honorary President. The suit, fabricated by Jane Garnett and Pat Lucas was donated to the museum by the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Archives Group.
An online component for the exhibition is found here.
CURRENT HOURS: open for walk-in tours Thursdays and Fridays, 10am-2pm. If you need a tour outside of those hours, please email or call ahead.
Call: (276) 223-3484
145 E. Main St., Wytheville, VA 24382
The museum is located in the heart of historic downtown Wytheville.
There is no admission fee to visit the museum or tour the birthplace home; however, donations are greatly appreciated!
Groups of 10 or more, please call ahead for arrangements.