102 E. Wesley St., Wheaton
Free admission; $2 guided tour (call to schedule)
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m Monday-Friday; noon-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Nowadays, the Girl Scouts of the USA are known more for their
yummy cookie flavors than for their rich history of community
service. But in honor of the organization's 100th anniversary, area
museums are staging exhibits that go beyond those brightly colored
The DuPage County Historical Museum in Wheaton has one of the
region's largest exhibits, presented in partnership with the Girl
Scouts of the USA. The Lisle council office was looking for a place
to display its collection, and the museum, which focuses on local
history, was a perfect fit.
Plus, Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, has a
Chicago connection-her grandparents were members of the famed
Curator Sara Arnas thinks it's important to highlight the things
Girl Scouts are doing-beyond their entrepreneurial skills.
"They're doing so many interesting service projects," Arnas
says. "I don't think people really realize what the Girl Scouts are
doing for the community."
When you visit, be sure to check out Arnas' picks for three
things not to miss:
The first Girl Scout handbook, complete with requirements for
the Housekeeper badge (do you know how to store a fur coat?) and
instructions for tying up a burglar using eight inches of cord.
"Things have changed a little bit," Arnas says.
Uniforms, including one of the first homemade Girl Scout
uniforms from 1920, the first Brownie uniform (which "kind of looks
like pajamas," Arnas says) and mini-skirted versions from the 1950s
and '60s, which today's girls usually love.
And yes, cookies galore. Look for old advertisements, current
cookie boxes, and a sample of the first recipe (a version of
shortbread) that you can take home and try. In the olden days, Girl
Scouts used to make their own cookies to sell.
The exhibit also gives Girl Scouts and alumni the chance the
share their own histories. Visit the website to submit your story,
or stop by the museum to see the wall of memories after browsing
And after learning all of the Girl Scouts' contributions to
society, we understand if you feel the need to finally polish off
that box of Thin Mints you've been hoarding.
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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