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Girl Scouts in World War 1

  • Statements & Interviews by Juliette Low on "What Can A Girl Do"

  • Helen Tew & Emergency War Gardens

  • Liberty Loan Medals

  • War Service Pin

  • American Flag for the Third Liberty Loan Campaign

  • Girl Scouts make Trench Candles for Soldiers, "recipe"

  • Uncle Sam's Nieces - An Editorial on Girl Scouts and the War

Girl Scouting was only 5 years old when World War 1 broke out in 1917. That didn't stop Girl Scouting from taking the lead in service. Their war motto - Do your best, not your bit. Girl Scouts were eager to do their part in the service to the war effort. A special pledge was created by the US Food Administration and the National Girl Scouts organization, where Girl Scouts pledged to go without candy two days a week, and go wheat-less one meal a day.
Juliette Low went on a speaking tour to big cities to promote girls & women joining the Girl Scouts and to share how Girl Scouting was helping to win the war.

I have a question - this article said she traveled east and west to share her message. How far west did she go? 
Juliette Low speaks again, when asked what the Girl Scouts would do if we go to war with Germany or Mexico.
(? - I hadn't realized going to war with Mexico was a concern in 1917).

She gives a long list of useful tasks that a Girl Scout could perform for the benefit of the war effort.
In 1918 Juliette Low issued a statement on why girls should become Girl Scouts and how that could aid the war effort. It ran in many newspapers so that the message could go far and wide. 

Girl Scouting was committed to working with the American Red Cross, the Food Administration, the Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense, among others. 

Meet Helen Margaret Tew, forgotten Girl Scout but was briefly a celebrity Girl Scout in 1918... and the Emergency War Garden program.


After winning, Helen wrote this article that was carried in every major newspaper, and several minor ones.

This is a Library of Congress image of Girl Scout Helen Margaret Tew. She won the very first check ($5) for winning the nation-wide contest conducted by the National Emergency Food Garden Committee, for the best canned vegetables grown in a war garden. Helen was 14 years old and a resident of Washington D.C.

In addition to winning the check, Helen, along with Boy Scout Bill Furey, were selected for the honor of "tagging" the President's shovel. I had to research this, as I had never heard of tagging a shovel. Turns out it was a promotion by the U.S Fuel Administration where they literally had "tags" printed up that said "Save that shovelful of COAL a day for Uncle Sam." The idea being that seeing the tag reminded homeowners to conserve coal for the war effort. Helen and Bill, in front of U.S. President Wilson, his family and various important people, tied a tag to the President's shovel. January 30, 1918

#1 - Cover furnace and pipes with asbestos !!!

The National War Garden Commission goal was to get as many Americans as possible growing their own fruits & vegetables AND saving those products for the future. Girl Scouting joined right in.

There are many images of Girl Scouts tending to gardens on the Library of Congress website, but this is my favorite. Look closely at the standing Girl Scout, doesn't that look like the Medal of Merit dangling on her uniform?

Amazingly, we know that this photo was taken at 13th & Iowa Ave in Washington D.C. in 1917

            This Library of Congress image shows
            3 Girl Scouts working their war garden
        at 1st. & T St. NE, in Washington DC. 1917

What do you think this Girl Scout Captain is thinking?
Girl Scouts - War Service medal
Presented by the U.S. Government
for service in the Third Liberty Loan Campaign 1918
in the Fourth Liberty Loan Campaign in 1919.
If the Girl Scout had already earned the medal in 1918, and she earned it again in 1919, she would receive a metal bar to wear on the ribbon that held the medal.

A staged photo-op of 3 Girl Scouts selling Liberty Bonds to Mrs. Nicholas Longworth. The reason I believe it's a staged photo is that she was from the highest level of upper crust society, being the eldest daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt. Much had be made about Girl Scouts accosting people on the streets to buy Liberty Bonds. This photo showed that high society people were just like everyone else, doing their part for the war effort and that it was acceptable for Girl Scouts to sell bonds this way.
1918 - Library of Congress

October 1918

To earn this medal, a Girl Scout had to sell at least 10 subscriptions to the Third Liberty Loan Campaign.


...Meanwhile, remember that a Girl Scout is cheerful even in spite of an unavoidable delay now and then. 1919


Earning this 3/4" pin was meant to encourage girls to give
thoughtful, direct service in the war effort.

3 points were required to earned the pin,

with additional points earning color-coded ribbons.

A sample listing of point earning tasks:

  • Knitting  2lbs. of wool for the Red Cross = 1 point

  • Selling 10 subscriptions of Liberty bonds to 10 different homes = 1 point

  • Selling 400 War Savings Stamps or Thrift Stamps = 1 point

  • "Labor Replacement" - helping in a home, nursery or playground so that an adult may devote more time to war work.

  • "Food Production" - food conservation, canning, preserving, pickling, poultry and pig raising, gardening.


Real Pin


This Library of Congress image is titled Girl Scouts. War Sewing with Red Cross, 1917


Attached is a photo of a WWI troop War Service Award flag. 


The flag is made of silk, hand-stitched, measures 35" x 23",
and has a red-white-blue ribbon, imprinted in gold, attached at the top. 
The ribbon reads:

  •  [blue portion]= "GIRL SCOUT TROOP No. 1 -- WINCHESTER, MASS." ;

  •   [white portion]= "THIRD LIBERTY LOAN" ; 

  •  [red portion]= "FEDERAL RESERVE DISTRICT NO. 1".

The blue sign on the frame is not part of the original presentation piece (it's an explanation for visitors to our museum).


We took this to the Antiques Roadshow  taping in Los Angeles 8 or 9 years ago, and they couldn't find anyone who could give an appraisal for it.


Best regards,


Ernie Altvater

Editorial by Fredric J Haskin: Girl Scouts Are Doing Part In War

Final Paragraph: The real significance of the Girl Scout movement is not the material aid it renders to the country, but the unobtrusive way in which girls are taught the practical side of service and patriotism. A good deal is said about "the future generation" and "after the war." Girl Scout leaders are working to make the girls under their supervision healthy in mind and body, so that they will be ready to accept the real responsibility of war and reconstruction.

Fighting a different kind of war...
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