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Juliette Gordon Low

AKA Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon

Born: 31-Oct-1860
Birthplace: Savannah, GA
Died: 18-Jan-1927
Location of death: Savannah, GA
Cause of death: Cancer - Breast
Remains: Buried, Laurel Grove Cemetery, Savannah, GA

Gender: Female
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Activist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founder of Girl Scouts of the USA

In the early Twentieth Century, Juliette Gordon Low -- friends called her "Daisy" -- became friends with Robert Baden-Powell and his wife, the founders of Boy Scouts and that group's European counterpart, Girl Guides. She convened the first American meeting of Girl Guides on 12 March 1912 -- 16 girls, in her hometown of Savannah. She soon decided that the name "Guides" suggested something inferior to the boys' "Scouts" moniker, and within a year the group's name was changed to Girl Scouts of the USA.

Low is remembered as an eccentric character, and according to legend she stood on her head to show off her new shoes at an early Scouts meeting. Offering badges for such radical fields as aviation, Morse code, and outdoors accomplishments, Low and Girl Scouting were seen by some as controversial, but the organization grew rapidly. She served for several years as the group's first President, and after stepping down continued serving as an informal ambassador, traveling the country and organizing new chapters.

She was essentially deaf, having lost most of the hearing in one ear due to a childhood infection, and completely lost the hearing in her other ear in her mid-twenties. She said, however, that she was more handicapped by "indifference of many friends and the blindness of others". Her abusive husband, a British businessman, left her for another woman, died before their divorce was finalized, and left the bulk of his wealth to his mistress.

Low was 51 when she founded the Girl Scouts, and 63 when she was diagnosed with cancer. Told there was little that medicine could do for her, she kept her illness secret and continued working to promote Girl Scouting until her death, four years later. She was buried in her Girl Scout uniform.

Father: William Washington Gordon Jr. (Confederate military)
Mother: Eleanor Lytle Kinzie Gordon
Sister: Eleanor Gordon ("Nellie")
Sister: Alice Gordon
Husband: William Mackay Low (m. 21-Dec-1886, sep. 1902, d. 1905)

    High School: Stuart Hall School, Staunton, VA
    University: Mesdemoiselles Charbonniers Finishing School, New York City

    Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. Founder and President (1915-20)
    National Women's Hall of Fame 1979:(posthumous)
    Scottish Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Deafness

Author of books:
How Girls Can Help Their Country: The Handbook for Girl Scouts (1917)

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, (3 cents, issued 1948)

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