100 Years of Girl Scouts

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 cookie boxes.

DuPage County Historical Museum

102 E. Wesley St., Wheaton
Free admission; guided tour (call to schedule)
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m Monday-Friday; noon-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
(630) 510-4941

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 Kinzie family.

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 the exhibit.

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.

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