Tag Archives: Women’s History

5 Things You May Not Know About Juliette Gordon Low

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Recently I visited Savannah, Georgia for the very first time–a beautiful, interesting, and historically rich city I highly recommend! It is the birthplace of the Girl Scouts of America, and also the birthplace of its founder, Juliette Gordon Low. As a former…well, okay, very former member of both Brownies and Girl Scouts, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tour her home which is located right there in historic downtown Savannah. If you ever have the chance to get to that area, you’d be missing out if you didn’t see it. For information on the house and tours, click here: I’m Interested In Seeing The Home Of A Rockin’ Visionary And Authentic Womens’ Rights Advocate, Way Ahead Of Her Time! 

I’ll be honest, other than a paper I wrote a few months ago where I used Girl Scouts of the USA as my nonprofit topic, I have not thought much about my own experiences as a Girl Scout over the last few decades. And, as a mom of boys, it’s not come up in conversation either. I dropped out around 4th or 5th grade, as I recall, which is sadly pretty common. There were two young ladies in our tour group cohort who were still Girl Scouts and in high school, and they confirmed that it is unusual for girls to stick with it to the end. They are a rarity, and were there earning their pin for touring the house of the founder. They were extremely polite, gracious, intelligent, and enthusiastic young women–just the sort we want to transition into being our co-workers, friends, mothers, and leaders of our society in the years to come. Hmmmm….could there be a correlation? I think so! Maybe we all need to encourage the young women around us to stay in Girl Scouts for the long haul. They do sort of kick folks out at 18, and after 12th grade, so girls can’t stay in indefinitely, but “finishing” Girl Scouts is a trend I’d like to see, wouldn’t you? 


Anyway, back to the reason I started writing a blog this morning…On the tour I took, and thanks to some materials I browsed after taking the tour, I learned a few lesser known, but fascinating factoids about the founder of this truly amazing organization. And here they are…

1) She was an extremely accomplished painter/artist. I mean, we are talking professional artist quality here. Throughout the house are examples of her work, including a gorgeous, one of a kind set of hand painted plates on the dining table. 

2) As an adult, she was mostly deaf in one ear. This was due to a freak accident that happened on her wedding day when a grain of rice lodged in her ear. When the doctor took it out, her eardrum was damaged during the procedure. 

3) She made a poor choice of a spouse, and paid the price with a bad marriage. Of course, when a marriage is bad, no outsider really knows what happened, and as they say, it takes two. However, the impression I got was that her husband was not a very nice guy. In fact, he asked her for a divorce, she refused to grant it, and then he died shortly thereafter. Hence, Juliette Gordon Low remained Juliette Gordon Low–for always. 

4) This next one is copied and pasted right from the official Girl Scouts website–the section on Juliette’s life: “One of her special skills was standing on her head. She stood on her head every year on her birthday to prove she still could do it, and also celebrated nieces’ and nephews’ birthdays by standing on her head. Once, she even stood on her head in the board room at National Headquarters to show off the new Girl Scout shoes”. 

5) Juliette was BFF’s with Rudyard Kipling. They used to go fishing and camping together, and he taught her a lot about both. Just think, all those Girl Scout tendencies to go camping, hiking, and in general to appreciate and learn to navigate the great outdoors may have their origins in this friendship between two famous people! 

Just in case you didn’t know it, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA…it says so right there on my commemorative t-shirt….

To learn more about the Girl Scouts of the USA, and just how it supports the leadership development, skill building, and self esteem of girls who then grow into the women who will shape this world, please visit their very impressive official website here: Girl Scouts of the USA

Until next time…

Have You Heard of Victoria Woodhull?

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Because I never had. It’s entirely possible that my history education is sorely lacking, but I had no idea that the first woman to run for President of the United States did so way back in 1872!

Victoria Woodhull, who obviously didn’t win, opposed incumbent Ulysses S. Grant. Born in 1838 in Homer, Ohio, this eccentric, free thinking suffragette ran as the representative of the Equal Rights Party. She campaigned throughout her life for such intriguing causes as free love, labor laws, and legalized prostitution. Oh, and she made a killing on Wall Street too as the first female stock broker. She then took her spoils of capitalism and founded a newspaper in which she proceeded to publish the first English language version of The Communist Manifesto. Talk about diverse interests! And Woodhull was ahead of her time in other ways too…she publicized a sex scandal between popular and well known minister Henry Ward Beecher and one of his parishioners, and maintained high profile celebrity feuds herself with none other than Harriet Beecher Stowe and Susan B. Anthony. Who knew?

Controversial or not, kooky or not, this is one intriguing historical figure I’d say! If you’d like to learn more about Victoria Woodhull, here are some good sources:

Who Is Victoria Woodhull?

Victoria Claflin Woodhull

Victoria Woodhull On Wikipedia

Victoria Woodhull On The History Channel

All Things Victoria Woodhull

And here are some quite insightful (and gutsy for her time) quotes attributed to Victoria Woodhull:

“I am a free lover. I have an inalienable, constitutional and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or short a period as I can; to change that love every day if I please”.

“I endeavor to make the most of everything”.

“I come before you to declare that my sex are entitled to the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

“I shall not change my course because those who assume to be better than I desire it”.

“I now announce myself as candidate for the Presidency. I anticipate criticism; but however unfavorable I trust that my sincerity will not be called into question”.

Here’s to history…Unsanitized, quirky, and fascinating!