Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts

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In celebration of the Girl Scouts' centennial, a lively salute to its maverick founder.

Born at the start of the Civil War, Juliette Gordon Low grew up in Georgia, where she struggled to reconcile being a good Southern belle with her desire to run barefoot through the fields. Deafened by an accident, "Daisy" married a dashing British aristocrat and moved to England. But she was ultimately betrayed by her husband and dissatisfied by the aimlessness of privileged life. Her search ...

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Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts

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Overview

In celebration of the Girl Scouts' centennial, a lively salute to its maverick founder.

Born at the start of the Civil War, Juliette Gordon Low grew up in Georgia, where she struggled to reconcile being a good Southern belle with her desire to run barefoot through the fields. Deafened by an accident, "Daisy" married a dashing British aristocrat and moved to England. But she was ultimately betrayed by her husband and dissatisfied by the aimlessness of privileged life. Her search for a greater purpose ended when she met Robert Baden-Powell, war hero, adventurer, and founder of the Boy Scouts. Captivated with his program, Daisy aimed to instill the same useful skills and moral values in young girls-with an emphasis on fun. She imported the Boy Scouts' sister organization, the Girl Guides, to Savannah in 1912. Rechristened the Girl Scouts, it grew rapidly because of Juliette Low's unquenchable determination and energetic, charismatic leadership.

In Juliette Gordon Low, Cordery paints a dynamic portrait of an intriguing woman and a true pioneer whose work touched the lives of millions of girls and women around the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Her friends playfully called her "Daisy" and "Little Ship," but there was nothing childish about Juliette Gordon Low (1860-1927). The founder of the Girl Scouts was forced by circumstances to make her own way. Her marriage was a disaster from the start: On her wedding day, a freak accident (a grain of rice became lodged in her ear) deprived her of most of her hearing and things got even worse. Her husband kept a live-in mistress and when he died in the midst of divorce proceedings, it was discovered that he cut his wife out of the estate. Juliette responded with feminist resolve. Following the lead of Baden-Powell's British Boy Scouts, she launched the Girl Scouts in 1912. This biography, on the centennial of that proud movement, pays homage to a resilient, fascinating woman.

Edward Ash-Milby

Publishers Weekly
Historian Cordery (Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth) celebrates the unique life of the woman who introduced the Girl Scouts in America in this robust biography. Born in Savannah, Ga., in 1860, Low was known throughout her life as “Daisy.” Headstrong, with an eccentric streak—her family nicknamed her “Crazy Daisy”—she had a lifelong sense of compassion for the underdog. After an unsuccessful marriage to the wealthy but philandering Englishman William “Willy” Mackay Low, she took the brave step of divorcing him in 1905. During that time, Low’s chronic ear problems also led to botched treatment that resulted in partial deafness. When unattached older women were expected to either remarry or fade away, Low remained visible in both London and Savannah society. Yearning for a purpose in life, she found one in 1911 after meeting Gen. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the British Army hero who founded the Boy Scouts in England. Drawn to Baden-Powell’s conviction that scouting should be fun, Low formed her own group of “Girl Guides”—Girl Scouts’ original name—near her Scotland home, the precursor for the phenomenon she’d bring to America in 1912. With her relentless enthusiasm and dedication, she helped the fledgling organization grow from a handful of Savannah girls to more than 90,000 Girl Scouts a few years before her death in 1927. Cordery wisely fleshes out Low’s nontraditional, pre-Scouting life so that the woman who emerges as the honorary troop leader of today’s 2.3 million Girl Scouts is a fully realized heroine. (Feb.)
Library Journal
While all Girl Scouts are taught the name of the organization's founder, Juliette Gordon "Daisy" Low, few people know the details of her intriguing life. Cordery (history, Monmouth Coll.; Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker) paints a vivid portrait of the woman who, despite physical challenges, romantic disappointment, and having no children of her own, founded the largest educational organization in the world for girls. Born in Savannah, Daisy Low mixed Southern belle etiquette with an interest in the arts and outdoor activities that would later inspire her vision for the Girl Scouts. The book's best chapters detail Low's involvement with Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the British war hero and Boy Scouts founder who inspired her to bring a similar organization to the girls of America and also to explore how her enthusiasm and dedication helped bring girl scouting to life. VERDICT An engaging biography that describes how Daisy Low created and shaped the Girl Scouts into an organization that continues to thrive—as evidenced by the upcoming celebration of its centennial in March 2012. Recommended for readers who enjoy biography and women's history. [See Prepub Alert, 8/26/11.]—Amy Hoseth, Colorado State Univ. Libs., Fort Collins
Library Journal
Rebellious Southern belle Juliette "Daisy" Gordon married a British aristocrat but took no pleasure in upper-crust life. Then she met Boy Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell and was inspired to create a similar organization for girls. This biography by Cordery, who previously tackled Alice Roosevelt Longworth, is out in time for the Girl Scouts' centennial. Lots of Scouts out there will want to read.
Kirkus Reviews
Marking the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, this biography brings to life the woman whose efforts galvanized an entire nation of young women. Cordery (History/Monmouth Coll; Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker, 2007, etc.) vividly evokes an era when the Girl Scouts' founder, the unconventional Juliette Gordon Low (1860–1927), faced an uphill battle convincing the public that girls deserved the same adventures and patriotic duties as their fellow Boy Scouts. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, camping, hiking and participating in military drills were considered the province of men alone. The head of the Boy Scouts, James West, went so far as to complain that Girl Scouts would "sissify" his organization, and he tried to block Daisy from using the word "Scout," preferring the more feminine "Guide." But Low remained undeterred by such threats, pushing ahead with her plan to create a national organization that would bring together girls of all faiths and ethnicities in fun, service-oriented activities. Despite growing up in a wealthy family in the Deep South, Daisy was no stranger to hardship, having married a cad who whisked her off to England, squandered their money and committed adultery. Sadder but wiser after his early death, and suffering from her own lifelong health problems, she strove to create a lasting monument to sisterhood that would foster independence as well as sorority. The Girl Scouts boosted their civic profile by stepping up to fulfill a bevy of tasks during World War I, from nursing to babysitting to growing vegetable gardens. By the '20s, many original critics of Girl Scouting came to advocate it as a means for transforming wayward, idle young women into strong, nurturing, productive members of society. Although Cordery's narrative occasionally bogs down in descriptions of the administrative and bureaucratic details of the organization, it nevertheless brightly illuminates the growing pains of both Daisy and her Girl Scouts. "Long Live Girl Scouts!" may be the cry on readers' lips after finishing this tribute to a spirited and inspirational American leader.
Boston Globe
"A biography that fully captures its dynamic subject and her greatest accomplishment."
Chicago Tribune
"Stacy Cordery's engaging portrait . . . paints a charming picture of Daisy as a warm-hearted force of nature."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Cordery . . . has written a detailed and well-researched book. She shows Low to be a strong woman ahead of her time."
The Wall Street Journal
"Of the three books pegged to the Girl Scouts' 100th, the most engaging by far is Stacy A. Cordery's Juliette Gordon Low. Ms. Cordery gives us the unexpurgated life—one that might make you want to shield the eyes of the nearest Brownie Scout but one that also lends depth and color to the American Girl Scouts founder's story. Ms. Cordery uses a wealth of historical detail to animate both an era and the author's flawed, sometimes exasperating but generally appealing subject. . . . The merit badge here goes to Stacy Cordery's biography."
Deseret News
"Cordery's extensive biography fully explores the complex and intricate life of Low."
BookPage

"Delightful."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670023301
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/16/2012
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Stacy A. Cordery is chairman of the history department at Monmouth College in Illinois and is the author of Theodore Roosevelt: In the Vanguard of the Modern. She is the bibliographer for the National First Ladies’ Library. This is her third book.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note vii

Preface ix

Chapter 1 Civil War and the Problem of Loyalties 1

Chapter 2 A Savannah Childhood 22

Chapter 3 Schooling in the South and Beyond 36

Chapter 4 Emotional Upheaval 57

Chapter 5 Broken Hearts 75

Chapter 6 Omens and Weddings 91

Chapter 7 The Whirl of Married Life 105

Chapter 8 Wars, Colonial and Domestic 130

Chapter 9 A Parting of the Ways 150

Chapter 10 Journeys 167

Chapter 11 General Sir Robert Baden-Powell 181

Chapter 12 The Savannah Girl Guides 201

Chapter 13 The Excitement of Girl Scouting 220

Chapter 14 Good Deeds 241

Chapter 15 Girl Scouting in the Roaring Twenties 259

Chapter 16 Making New Friends Internationally 277

Epilogue: "Long Live the Girl Scouts!" 295

Acknowledgments 299

Notes 305

Bibliography 355

Index 367

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2012

    Girl Scouting shaped my life. My parents enrolled all of their c

    Girl Scouting shaped my life. My parents enrolled all of their children in Scouting in the 40s and 50s. It gave us skills, friends, activities and confidence. My own children have been in Scouting. I attended a G.S Round Up. Hurray for Julliete Gordon Low and my many leaders. With the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, Scouting had different challenges. But they have survived. I saw the author on CSpan BookTV last night. What a story she told. Remember? "I have something in my pocket, it belongs across my face... ...it's a great big Brownie smile."

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I am enjoying reading this biography of our founder, Juliette Go

    I am enjoying reading this biography of our founder, Juliette Gordon Low! It does not read as a novel because it is a biography and it states the facts and the stories about Juliette and her life. I have had the opportunity to meet the author recently and she was interesting to listen to and that we need more books about Juliette. Juliette needs to be int he history books where she belongs alongside other women who were visionaries of their time!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2012

    Wonderful job! A great read!!!

    Wonderful job! A great read!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2012

    I didn't love this book (a memoir would have been better, but I

    I didn't love this book (a memoir would have been better, but I don't believe Gordon Low ever wrote one), but it's clearly well-researched. When I was a Brownie my parents took my siblings and I to visit Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace in Savannah. It was beautiful and I loved it even then. She's a fascinating woman.

    So what didn't I like about the book? The facts were just the facts and stated as such. The author could have written this in a narrative format and made "Daisy" come alive in the pages. She doesn't.

    I liked that photographs were included.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2014

    Girl scouts

    Im a caddet

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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