Behind the Scenes at the Archives & History Program Center in Frederick, MD

IMG_3512.JPGBy Ann Robertson, Archives & History Committee Chair

In September, the Archives & History Program Center in Frederick, MD opened its doors to Girl Scout members, providing girls with opportunities to learn about the rich history of Girl Scouting in our region. But behind the scenes, volunteers in the Archives & History Committee were hard at work throughout the summer preparing the space, which is the only Council property completely operated by volunteers.

Established in 1983, the Archives & History committee is tasked by our board of directors with preserving and protecting documents and materials that reflect the history of Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital and its legacy councils, fostering knowledge and an appreciation of our rich past.

Together, Committee members have over 700 years of Girl Scout experience. They have run troops, camps, trainings, and product sales, and served as council delegates, registrars, on special task forces, and on the board of directors. They include past council staff and have had careers as diverse as education, meteorology, and nursing. They meet on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month, with additional work sessions as needed.

Archives & History Committee members manage the Council’s archives collection, which includes hundreds of vintage uniforms and handbooks, thousands of photos, pins, and badges, as well as Girl Scout-themed merchandise such as cameras, mess kits, dolls, and jewelry. They also curate exhibits at Council offices, events, and Annual Meetings and network with historians from other councils at national training events and national Girl Scout memorabilia exhibitions.

Throughout the summer, Committee members carefully laundered, repaired, and inventoried over 100 vintage uniforms to refresh the 10 uniform program kits available for Girl Scouts to reserve. They also created exhibits for Adventure Day in Manassas, presented a program for an encampment at Aquasco, and installed a new exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of the Girl Scout Roundups.

Committee members are on call for a variety of inquiries from public, scholarly researchers, members trying to identify a mysterious old badge or pin, and requests for vintage photos. Each year the Committee also fields multiple requests from girls wanting to dress up like Juliette Gordon Low for school events and National History Day.

The Committee spent over 600 hours throughout last summer readying the space in Frederick for the grand opening. They hosted their first round of Girl Scout Ways workshops in October and look forward to sharing their love of Girl Scout history with more troops throughout the coming year.

Interested in visiting the Archives & History Program Center with your troop? Visit our website for more information.

About the Author
The Archives & History Committee is chaired by Ann Robertson. Dr. Robertson is a former professor of international affairs at the George Washington University. She has published numerous articles and books on topics ranging from terrorism to space weapons, and the history of Girl Scouting in Washington.