Girl Scout artifacts and current literature are on display at Brockport’s Seymour Library

By on March 4, 2019
Fran McDowell, archivist for the Girl Scouts of Western New York, set up the Girl Scout display in the Local History Room on February 13. Here she is explaining the original 1919 uniform and hat made of khaki. The sash and merit badges were from that period also. Photo by David Q. McDowell

Fran McDowell, archivist for the Girl Scouts of Western New York, set up the Girl Scout display in the Local History Room on February 13. Here she is explaining the original 1919 uniform and hat made of khaki. The sash and merit badges were from that period also. Photo by David Q. McDowell

Since 2018 the Seymour Library at 161 East Avenue in Brockport has been featuring special displays in its Local History Room. The two-month exhibits in display cases present current activity by local writers, hobbyists, museums, artists, schools, organizations, and other community interests.

Now through April 17, the display presents artifacts of the history of Girl Scouts, U.S.A. It includes uniforms, badges, pins, documents, and paraphernalia that have evolved with the organization since it was founded in 1912.

Fran McDowell has meticulously arranged displays in the six glass cases with the help of Taysie Pennington. Fran has been archivist for the collection since 2003, volunteering for the Girls Scouts of Western New York which encompasses nine counties. She was a Scout in her teens for six years. Then, in 1969 she became a Girl Scout leader for 19 years. Further positions included volunteer service as division manager, master trainer, and board member. “She has dedicated a lifetime of commitment to the organization and put in hours of work to prepare for our display,” Taysie said about Fran’s 50-year career in the Girl Scout organization.

Taysie has been with Girl Scouts beginning as a Brownie in third grade in 1967. In 1991 she became a Brownie leader when her daughter first joined Brownies. While a troop leader, she also worked in the Girl Scouts Brockport Service Unit in various roles. Taysie has a lifetime membership in Girl Scouts. She is also president of the Seymour Library Board of Trustees.

Fran described some of the artifacts she and Taysie had arranged inside the six display cases.

One major display item is the first Girl Scout uniform introduced in 1919. She held up the original uniform and hat in the interview, explaining its features (see photo). “It’s a beauty in wonderful condition,” she said about the uniform made of khaki. These uniforms had to be borrowed from national headquarters by the Scouts and returned when they moved on.

Another unique item on display is the Mariner Scouts uniform (see photo). The Mariners were a special section of Scouting for girls who lived near the ocean, Fran said. In existence from about 1934 to 1960, they worked on sail boats, learning sailing skills and safety.

Besides Mariners, the Wing Scouts were another specialized group. During World War II, men were at war and women worked in factories, Fran said. “The Wing Scouts, 14 years old and up, did lighter tasks for the Air Force to aid the war effort.” The Wing Scouts were discontinued after the war.

About the two special Scout groups, Fran said, “This is where Girl Scouts were always so far ahead in so many things. They always have been.”

After viewing 100 years of Girl Scout history, the display visitor can read some current literature that shows the organization is indeed thinking “far ahead” for the future of young girls.

A brochure published by Girl Scouts of Western New York uses the acronym G.I.R.L. to mean “Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader.” The brochure says that, today, “Girl Scouts are prepared for a lifetime of leadership.” It states that Girl Scout membership is in the background of these professionals: “90% of all female U.S. astronauts; 80% of all female tech leaders; 76% of female U.S. Senators; and 100% of U.S. Secretaries of State.”

The literature is available at the Seymour Library display. It includes how to join a Girl Scout troop and how to volunteer. More information is available at www.girlscouts.org/research.

Taysie Pennington stands near two uniforms she wore as a Girl Scout. The brown one was for her Brownie Girl Scout membership in 1966. The next year she moved up to Intermediate Girl Scout (the name then) and wore the green uniform. The photo attached for display shows her wearing it in fifth grade. Her jacket she is wearing displays a wide variety of Scout badges and pins. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

Taysie Pennington stands near two uniforms she wore as a Girl Scout. The brown one was for her Brownie Girl Scout membership in 1966. The next year she moved up to Intermediate Girl Scout (the name then) and wore the green uniform. The photo attached for display shows her wearing it in fifth grade. Her jacket she is wearing displays a wide variety of Scout badges and pins. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

 

One wall in the Local History Room shows uniforms provided by Taysie Pennington. The two on the right belong to Taysie and are explained in another photo. The yellow raincoat is Taysie’s, used in summer camp. The next is a Brownie uniform. The green one is a Senior Scout uniform, both obtained at VOA and their dates are unknown. The central display case contains the 1919 first Scout uniform, sash and merit badges. Photo by David Q. McDowell

One wall in the Local History Room shows uniforms provided by Taysie Pennington. The two on the right belong to Taysie and are explained in another photo. The yellow raincoat is Taysie’s, used in summer camp. The next is a Brownie uniform. The green one is a Senior Scout uniform, both obtained at VOA and their dates are unknown. The central display case contains the 1919 first Scout uniform, sash and merit badges. Photo by David Q. McDowell

 

In one display case are the uniform and hat for the Mariner Scouts which existed between about 1934 to 1960. Photo by David Q. McDowell

In one display case are the uniform and hat for the Mariner Scouts which existed between about 1934 to 1960. Photo by David Q. McDowell