Daisy Gordon has been arguably the most significant influence on girls in the US ever. The founder of an organization, which has grown from 18 girls to over 3.7 million today, Daisy’s organi- zation has impacted more than 50 million girls, women (and even a few men) who have belonged to it.
Born Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon on 31 October 1860, in Savannah, Georgia, Daisy was the second of six children of William Washington Gordon and Eleanor Kinzie Gordon. Her paternal line is traced back as far as John Gordon & Janet Ogilvie of Pitlurg, Aberdeenshire, Scotland (abt. 1520.) Daisy's line descends from their son John and his wife Isabel Forbes. Isabel Forbes is a descendant, on her paternal line, of William Forbes (1452) and his wife Christine Gordon. Christine was the daughter of Alexander Seaton Gordon and Elizabeth Crichton, and thus through his mother back to the progenitor of the Clan Gordon, Adam de Gordon!
As a young girl, Daisy was fond of exotic birds, dogs, and the arts. She wrote poetry, wrote and acted in plays, sketched, and eventually became an accomplished sculptor and painter. She attended boarding school at Virginia Female Institute (now Stuart Hall) in Lynchburg, Virginia followed by Edge Hill School in Charlottesville, Virginia run by Thomas Jefferson's great-granddaughters, Misses Sarah and Carrie Randolph. She finished at a French School in New York, Charbonniers. She then traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Daisy suffered from chronic ear infections as she grew up and had significant hearing loss due to improper treatment. At her wedding in December 1886, to William Mackay Low, a piece of rice lodged in her ear, piercing the ear drum and resulting in an infection which caused total loss of hearing in that ear.
Daisy returned from England, where she had been living with her husband, during the Spanish American War. She and her mother established a convalescent home for soldiers returning from Cuba. Her father, General William Gordon, served on the Puerto Rican Peace Commission. She returned to England at the end of the war, where she spent many years looking for something she could do to make her life feel useful. It was her meeting with Sir Robert Baden-Powell who introduced her to the growing youth movement. Several months later she returned to her native Savannah, and on March 12,1912 called her cousin and said, “I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!" Eighteen girls gathered at her house that night and thus began the Girl Scouts of America.
Daisy, better known as Juliette Gordon Low, made sure that girls of all backgrounds were given opportunities to develop self reliance and resourcefulness through out-door activities. Physically challenged girls were encouraged to participate at a time when most organizations excluded them. She also emphasized preparation in the arts, sciences, business, citizenship as well as the traditional home roles. She maintained ties with the Girl Guides organization in Britain throughout WWI and helped to lay the foundation for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Daisy died in Savannah on 17 January 1927 from cancer.
The Girl Scout organization lists the following notable facts:
* On July 3, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill authorizing a stamp in honor of Juliette Gordon Low. The stamp was one of the few dedicated to women.
* During World War II, she had a "Liberty Ship" named in her honor.
* In 1954, in Georgia, the city of Savannah honored her by naming a school for her. A Juliette Low School also exists in Anaheim, California.
* On October 28, 1979, Juliette Low was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.
* On December 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill naming a new federal building in Savannah in honor of Juliette Low. It was the second federal building in history to be named after a woman.
* In 1992, a Georgia non-profit honored Juliette Low as one of the first Georgia Women of Achievement. A bust of Juliette Low is displayed in the State Capitol. In 2000, The Deaf World in Wax, a traveling exhibit, featured her as a famous deaf American.
Choate, Anne Hyde. Juliette Low and the Girl Scouts: the story of an American Woman, 1860-1927. Published for Girls Scouts Inc. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1928.
Pace, Mildred Mastin and Danny L. Miller, editors. Juliette Low. Jesse Stuart. Foundation, 1997.
Schultz, Gladys Denny and Daisy Gordon Lawrence. Lady from Savannah: The Life of Juliette Low. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1958.
Gordon Family Papers 1814-1936, Addition 1844-1849, 1853-1916, 635 b. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Library, Manuscripts Department & Southern Historical Collection. Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Low's Papers in this collection: 1814-1936.