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Wearing The Uniform

The Girl Scout Uniform

Wearing the Girl Scout uniform symbolizes unity and belonging to something larger than oneself. However, for African American troops in Northeast Florida, that facet of the Girl Scout experience was delayed. The story is told through the Duval County Girl Scout Council Board minutes.

The issue arose at the April 18, 1935 Board meeting:

 “ Mrs. Gibbs, Chairman of Girl Scout work among the Negroes reported that  . . . three of the Negro troops asked when they could have uniforms.”

The following came at the November 14, 1935 meeting:

“The request for colored troops to be allowed to wear uniforms was discussed by the Council”,”and Mrs. McConnel, Commissioner, asked Mrs. Gibbs to tell them  it was under consideration.”

The next step came at the April 9, 1936 board meeting:

“ Mrs. Oltrogge read a letter from the Division Committee of the Negro Girl Scouts that their First Class Scouts be permitted to wear the uniform and be given merit badges. 

 The Committee recommended that First Class Scouts be permitted to wear uniforms only at their weekly meetings, never downtown.”  

“Mrs. McConnel moved to accept the recommendation of the Negro Committee regarding uniforms. The motion was seconded and carried.”

Finally, on November 9, 1939 African American Girls Scouts achieved their desire: 

“It is recommended by the Interracial Committee  that this Council conform to the practice of other Councils, and permit Negro Scouts, in good standing, to wear the uniform, under the same rulings in effect for other Scouts.  It was moved by Dr. Kline, seconded by Mrs. Taylor, that the recommendation of the Interracial Committee be accepted, and adopted as a policy of this Council.   Motion carried.”

The first Intermediate uniform that African American Girl Scouts wore in 1939 came in two styles: the Thrift Intermediate Girl Scout uniform was silver-green non-Sanforized cotton covert, long-sleeved coat dress. The other Intermediate uniform  was the silver-green Sanforized cotton dress with long, darted sleeves. The Senior Girl Scout uniform in 1939 was a forest-green “Scoutspun” rayon dress with a roll collar, fitted bodice, a long front zipper/GS tab, and a flared skirt.

From the exhibit