Juliette 'Daisy' Gordon Low was the founder of Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
Daisy was born Juliette Gordon on Halloween of 1860 in Savannah, Georgia. She was an active and creative child, spending her childhood playing with her many animals, creating a children's magazine that lasted for five years, and writing and acting in plays for her family and friends. She first went to a boarding school in Virginia, and then later attended a French finishing school in New York City.
Daisy as an Adult
When she was 26, Daisy married an Englishman named William Low1. However Daisy was too independent to fit in with her husband and society's ideas of traditional family life, and she quickly became bored with society life and all its parties. She once convinced Rudyard Kipling to sneak out of a party to go fishing with her!
It was an unhappy 18-year marriage and the couple had been preparing to divorce when her husband died in 1904. There were apparently other problems with the marriage as well - Daisy discovered at her husband's death that he had willed his entire estate to another woman. Daisy shocked society by contesting the will in court, and winning a large settlement.
First Experiences with Guiding and Scouting
In 1911, Daisy met Lord and Lady Baden-Powell in Scotland. Lord Baden-Powell had recently founded the Boy Scout movement in England, and his sister Agnes had quickly followed with the Girl Guides. While she was in Scotland, Daisy led one of the first Girl Guide troops.
Girl Scouts in the USA
By the next year, Daisy had returned to America and started the Girl Scouts. The first troop met on 12 March, 1912, with 18 girls, including Daisy's niece. Daisy helped finance the organisation by selling her jewellery, and the idea grew quickly. There was a national headquarters by 1913, the organisation was incorporated at the first annual convention in 1915, and Mrs Woodrow Wilson, the First Lady, joined in 1917.
The Girl Scout organisation originally shocked many conservative Americans. The girls learned skills that were viewed traditionally as being more masculine, and engaged in activities that were considered decidedly tomboyish, such as playing basketball. Another shock to the American public was the idea that the Girl Scouts was open to all girls, accepting African American, Native American, and physically disabled girls into the membership.
Girl Scout troops were actively involved with the Red Cross and other volunteer work during World War I, and this visibility led to the rapid expansion of the organisation. By 1920 there were 70,000 girl members
After the war ended, Daisy devoted her time to expanding Girl Guides and Girl Scouts internationally. She worked with Lady Baden- Powell in this effort until her death from cancer in 1927.