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Girl Guides

Girl Guides. Female branch of the Scouting movement founded in 1910. At the first big rally of the Boy Scouts at Crystal Palace in September 1909 there appeared a large contingent of girls dressed in the Scout hat and scarf and parading with the boys. Baden-Powell was not in favour of incorporating girls into his organization as he believed it would discourage boys from joining. The following year his sister Agnes established the Girl Guides with £100 at her disposal and together they wrote the Guide Handbook How Girls Can Help Build up the Empire. The initial reaction was enthusiastic with around 8,000 girls joining. However the movement began to stagnate due to Agnes's poor organization and an uninspiring programme. The Girl Guides were also viewed with suspicion by some who thought it was a part of the women's suffrage movement, which was particularly active in this period.

In 1915 Baden-Powell made himself chairman of the Girl Guides and brought younger women into the organization, including his wife Olave. He also rewrote the Guide Handbook, Girl Guiding, in 1918. The Brownies were formed in 1914 for 8–11-year-olds. They were originally called Rosebuds, but the name Brownie was adopted in 1918. It derived from a book of 1870 by Juliana Ewing where Brownies were little elf-like creatures who, at night, finished the housework for humans. In 1988 the Rainbow Guides were introduced for 5–7-year-olds.

The first international Guide conference was held at Oxford in 1920. At the sixth conference, in 1930, Lady Baden-Powell became World Chief Guide, a post she held for 40 years. Today there are estimated to be around 8.5 million Guides in over 100 countries.

Richard A. Smith

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Girl Guides

Girl Guides Organization for girls founded (1910) in England by Agnes Baden-Powell, sister of Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts. There are c.7 million guides worldwide, including c.870,000 in Britain.

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