By Lizzie W.

Although the beginning of the New Year marked the end of The Year of the Girl, the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting, there is always cause for celebrating the Girl Scout movement. Here’s a brief look at the life of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scout movement.

Juliette was born in Savannah, Georgia on Halloween in 1860 to parents William and Eleanor Gordon. The second of six children, she was a playful, rambunctious, creative girl who enjoyed writing plays and poetry for her family. Her family dubbed her “Daisy,” a nickname that stuck her entire life. As a teenager, Juliette attended boarding schools in Virginia and New York; later, as a young adult, she traveled extensively throughout the US and Europe.

She married William Low, a British man, in 1886. The couple divided their time between Britain and the United States. However, Juliette moved back to the United States at the beginning of the Spanish-American War to aid her mother in nursing soldiers.

Soon after the war, Juliette’s husband died, leaving Juliette feeling purposeless. For six years, she searched for a worthwhile cause to devote her life. Her search ended when she met Lord Baden-Powell, an Englishman who founded the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. Immediately, Juliette knew that Girl Guides was the program through which she could influence the world. She said to a friend, "I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!"

With those words, the first Girl Scout troop was formed in 1912 in Juliette’s Savannah, Georgia home. The troop consisted of just eighteen girls, with the first official Girl Scout registered being Juliette’s niece.

Photo Courtesy: Juliette Low Birthplace
Girl Scouts quickly became a revolutionary program for young women; it became one of the first programs that taught girls life skills, rather than just standard “women’s tasks.” An athlete herself, Juliette encouraged girls to get outside, explore, have adventures.  More than that, Juliette made sure Girl Scouts was accessible to all girls, a novel idea at a time when girls with disabilities were largely ignored. Juliette helped disadvantaged girls believe in themselves, for after all, being almost entirely deaf and having breast cancer never stopped Juliette from doing what she wanted.

Juliette died of breast cancer at the age of 67 in her Savannah home. She is buried in Savannah.

Juliette has left a lasting legacy, and in recognition of her contributions to the nation and world, she has received many awards, including having her image on a postage stamp. Most significantly, just last year, in April 2012, President Obama posthumously awarded her the highest award given to a civilian, the Medal of Freedom.

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