Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts

Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts

4.5 6
by Stacy A. Cordery
     
 

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Born at the start of the Civil War, Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low struggled to reconcile being a good Southern belle with being true to her adventurous spirit. Accidentally deafened, she married a dashing British patrician and moved to England, where she quickly became dissatisfied with the aimlessness of privileged life. Her search for greater purpose

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Overview

Born at the start of the Civil War, Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low struggled to reconcile being a good Southern belle with being true to her adventurous spirit. Accidentally deafened, she married a dashing British patrician and moved to England, where she quickly became dissatisfied with the aimlessness of privileged life. Her search for greater purpose ended when she met Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, and was inspired to recreate his program for girls.

            The Girl Scouts of the USA—which can now count more than fifty-nine million American girls and women among its past members—aims to instill useful skills and moral values in its young members, with an emphasis on fun. In this lively and accessible biography of its intrepid founder, Stacy A. 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

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
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.
From the Publisher
"A biography that fully captures its dynamic subject and her greatest accomplishment." — Boston Globe

"Stacy Cordery's engaging portrait . . . paints a charming picture of Daisy as a warm-hearted force of nature." — Chicago Tribune

"Cordery . . . has written a detailed and well-researched book. She shows Low to be a strong woman ahead of her time." — The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"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." — The Wall Street Journal

"Cordery's extensive biography fully explores the complex and intricate life of Low." — Deseret News

"Delightful." — BookPage

"This biography brings to life the woman whose efforts galvanized an entire nation of young women. 'Long Live Girl Scouts!' may be the cry on readers' lips after finishing this tribute to a spirited and inspirational American leader." — Kirkus Reviews

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 Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/16/2012
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.36(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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