A Girl Scout in the Family

girl scouts at the white house

On March 12, 1912, the first Girl Scout meeting was held in Savannah, Georgia when Juliette Gordon Low brought 18 young women together to form a troop. Low’s focus was to provide opportunities to young women and ensure their physical, mental and spiritual development.

The vision that Low had, starting with that first meeting, was an organization that was “girl-centered.” What started with just 18 girls has grown to an organization with over 3.2 million girls and adults. According to the Girl Scouts of America, there are over 59 million women in the United States today who can be claimed as Girls Scouts alumnae.

The Girl Scouts of America was patterned after the popular Girl Guides organization in Britain, but by 1920 had developed its own distinct uniform, handbook and organizational structure. By then, there were 70,000 girl scouts across the country.

During the Great Depression, many troops focused on community service including food drives and providing meals to those in need. Also in the 1930s, with a focus on age appropriate activities, Girl Scouts were split into divisions including the Brownies. And did you know that ithe first Girl Scout cookies were commercially baked in the 1930s?

With the arrival of World War II, community service included scrap metal drives, learning how to grow Victory Gardens as well as how to handle blackouts and air raid drills.

The 1950s and 1960s is when the organization saw its largest growth, thanks to the post-war Baby Boom. As the Girl Scouts continued to grow towards the end of the 20th century, activities included computers and developing technology skills for young women. And now in the 21st century, new badges such as Global Awareness and Environmental Health reflect the challenges women, and all of us, will face in the coming decades.

Did the Girl Scouts Play a Role in Your Family?

For many families, the Girl Scouts were a big part of “growing up” in the United States. More and more family historians are discovering that memories of being a Girl Scout and participating in activities make for great family stories.

Here are some interview questions, writing/journaling prompts and project ideas:

  • Which of your ancestors were members of the Girl Scouts? What is the earliest instance you can find of a family member participating in Girl Scouts?
  • Do you have a current family member who was or is involved in the Girl Scouts? Consider interviewing your older relatives (using Saving Memories Forever, of course) and ask them what it was like to be a Girl Scout as they grew up. Discuss the skills they developed.
  • Have you inherited a box of Girl Scout items such as sashes, uniforms, handbooks and more? Contact your local troop and ask if they would be interested in the items for their archives. If not, create a video or slide show describing the items and who in your family owned them.
  • Were you a Girl Scout? Record your own memories in a variety of formats including audio, digital images and in writing.

© 2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Thomas MacEntee

Thomas MacEntee is a genealogy professional specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and as a means of interacting with others in the family history community. He is a frequent guest blogger for SavingMemoriesForever.com. For more information visit http://hidefgen.com.

Summer Vacations Create Family Memories

concept

Whether your family goes camping, hits the beaches, visits historical sites or just remains local for a “staycation,” summer vacations are a great time to create and to capture family memories.

A Brief History of Summer Vacations

The concept of “taking a vacation” for most of us means getting away from the office and our usual routine for one or two weeks. No emails, no meetings, no cares, right? Prior to World War II, only the well-to-do had the means to just up and travel when they wanted to and take what most of us know as a vacation. My immigrant ancestors from Germany and Ireland didn’t have the luxury of a vacation – summer or other seasons; basically, if you didn’t work, you didn’t get paid! Since the mid-20th century, most companies provide vacation time as a benefit to employees and most of us look forward to our vacations!

But why summer? The common belief has been that the practice is rooted in America’s early history as a rural, agrarian economy and the public education system. During the summer, children were expected to work in the fields and help with the harvest. But recent thinking holds that it was in fact urban America with its hot steamy cities and public health issues that pushed for a summer break when children could head out to the country.

Do You Remember Summer Vacations From the Past?

For me, summer vacations were not very frequent but I remember two as a child: Niagara Falls, New York and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I grew up in New York which is filled with history and whenever we went on vacation, my mother always made sure there was some element of “learning” about our country’s past. For Niagara it meant the War of 1812 since many of the key battles took place along the Great Lakes. And with the Gettysburg trip, we visited the historic battlefield as well as all the monuments as we learned about the Civil War.

While some of us only have memories, did you realize that you may actually be sitting on a treasure trove of family mementos from past vacations? I recently went through a box of items from my family and guess what I found? Old 8mm home movies from those two vacations from my youth as well as flyers and brochures from the sites we visited. And then, of course, there are the photos taken of me, my brother and my mother as we enjoyed our getaways in the mid-1970s.

Best Ways to Capture Vacation Memories

Here are some ideas on capturing memories of summer vacation, both those from your youth and those you may be planning for this summer or in the future:

  • Record Your Memories: Even if you don’t have any tangible mementos of your past vacations, write down your memories or better yet, record them as stories using Saving Memories Forever.
  • Preserve Paper and Photos: Don’t forget that over time flyers and brochures will fade and break down if not preserved using archival envelopes and folders. Also, make sure your photos are also preserved for posterity using sound archival methods.
  • Scan Items for Safekeeping: Besides preserving items, make sure you scan the important ones and create digital images. If the originals are lost, you’ll always have these files as a backup.
  • Convert Home Movies and Slides: If you are sitting on slides and movies from vacation, make sure you convert them to DVD or digital files. And don’t wait until the film or slides break down! You can find converters that will let you perform the conversion yourself but many use an outside service. Why? They are the experts at converting these items and they are conveniently located at local superstores (Walmart and Costco) or drug stores (Walgreen’s and CVS).
  • Create a Scrapbook: A fun project – even one saved for cold Winter days – is to create a scrapbook of old summer vacation memories. Choose whether to use the traditional book format or digital scrapbooking and include photos, stories and more.
  • Share with Your Family: The best part about discovering items related to past family vacations is sharing them with your loved ones. Amazing stories are sure to pop up as you all look at the photos, movies and other items. Also remember to use Saving Memories Forever to interview those other family members who were on vacation with you and capture their stories!

 

© 2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Unleash Your Story Superhero: Save those memories with the kids!

[Editor’s Note: Saving Memories Forever blogger Stephanie Pitcher Fishman helps you engage your kids in family stories by creating a Story Superhero!]

 Create your family Story Superhero with Saving Memories Forever

Spring is here, and the kids are looking for some fun things to do. No longer are we stuck inside the house waiting for the snow to melt and the winter storms to pass us by. Summer trips and vacations will be here before you know it. Use their enthusiasm and sense of adventure to your advantage. Turn them into memory savers and storytellers!

Stir Up the Excitement

Our kids are natural storytellers. Most will entertain us for hours with their imagination. (Only as we age do we get hesitant to tell our stories!) This excitement is contagious. The best way to get them ready to collect stories is to show them how much fun hearing these stories can be. What are your favorite family stories? Use this as your starting point. Tell your children stories of your childhood. Help them picture what life was like for you at their age. Use stories that elicit familiar memories of their own experiences: food, vacation, school field trips, etc. Next, give them a challenge. Not only should they share their own stories, but they need collect the stories of their family. They will be your family’s Story Superhero!

Plan Your Adventure

We’re all familiar with a common saying: “The devil is in the details.” How do we avoid that kind of mischief and make our project successful? Plan! Invite your kids into the planning stages. Identify two main things: the people you can visit and the stories that they can tell. These very important pieces of the plan will help your superhero tackle the challenge ahead. Discuss the best ways to collect your stories once your mission begins. Every Story Superhero needs to be prepared to fight off their biggest foe: lack of preparation!

After you’ve introduced them to some of your family stories, ask them to think about the types they would like to learn. Also consider creating a chart or map listing the relatives that you can visit. Don’t forget to use the super power of technology to your benefit. Family members separated by distance can use Skype to connect.

Do you have travel plans for the summer? Consider taking your show on the road! As you plan your family vacations you can record stories and memories in many different ways. First, consider incorporating a family visit into your travel plans in order to interview loved ones. Not only will you capture their stories but you will also make them feel special as you dedicate time especially to them.

Unleash the Storyteller Within

Once you’ve collected your story, don’t just end things there. Tell the tale! The story doesn’t end with the voice. You can expand your family’s understanding of their ancestors by adding layers to the story such as photos, transcriptions, tags to connect stories with common themes, and more. Then, once you’ve built your complete story experience, use your superpowers to share it with others!

Resources

The Saving Memories Forever website has many useful resources to help you in your adventure. Follow the links below to find out more!

Sign up for Saving Memories Forever E-News, our monthly newsletter. It is filled with ideas and suggestions to help you share those stories. We also include some reviews not because we like to toot our own horn but because we love sharing how others use the app in unique ways.

View our list of helpful memory prompt questions. You’ll find our memory prompts in the Saving Memories Forever iPhone and Android app as well as in this handy printable format.

Don’t forget about the great resources available for free on Pinterest! The Saving Memories Forever Pinterest boards share tips for storytelling, creating memories, and connecting with family along with other fun and inspiring boards. Don’t forget to follow us so that you won’t miss a single resource!