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Camp Fire Girls records

 Record Group
Identifier: 004-006-002-053


  • Creation: 1923, undated

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Some materials in this collection may be restricted due to the presence of confidential information. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives for more details regarding access.

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Biographical / Historical

In 1910, young girls in Thetford, Vermont watched their brothers, friends, and schoolmates—all Boy Scouts—practice their parts in the community's 150th anniversary, which would be celebrated the following summer. The pageant's organizer, William Chauncey Langdon, promised the girls that they too would have an organized role in the pageant, although no organization similar to the Boy Scouts existed for girls at the time. Langdon consulted with Mrs. Charles Farnsworth [Charlotte Joy (Allen) Farnsworth, known as "Madama", preceptress of Horace Mann School near Thetford, Vermont. Both approached Luther Halsey Gulick M.D.[10] about creating a national organization for girls. Gulick introduced the idea to friends, among them G. Stanley Hall, Ernest Thompson Seton, and James West, executive secretary of the Boy Scouts. After many discussions and help from Gulick and his wife Charlotte, Langdon named the group of Thetford girls the Camp Fire Girls.

In 1907, the Gulicks had established Camp WoHeLo, a camp for girls, on Lake Sebago, near South Casco, Maine. There were seventeen WoHeLo maidens at the camp in the summer of 1910. Both the Vermont group and the Maine group would lead to the creation of the organization formally organized as Camp Fire Girls in 1912.

On March 22, 1911, Dr. Gulick organized a meeting "to consider ways and means of doing for the girls what the Boy Scout movement is designed to do for the boys". On April 10, 1911 James E. West issued a press release from the Boy Scouts of America headquarters announcing that with the success of the Boy Scout movement, a group of preeminent New York men and women were organizing a group to provide outdoor activities for girls, similar to those in the Boy Scout movement.

In 1911, the Camp Fire Girls planned to merge with the Girls Scouts of America, formed by Clara A. Lisetor-Lane of Des Moines, Iowa, and Girl Guides of America (of Spokane, Washington) to form the Girl Pioneers of America, but relationships fractured and the merger failed. Grace Seton quit the group over the rejection of her committee's draft of a handbook, followed by Linda Beard in September 1911 over differences with the Gulicks.[15] However, there was an organization meeting held by Lina Beard on February 7, 1912 in Flushing, New York of a Girl Pioneers of America organization.

Camp Fire Girls of America was incorporated in Washington, D.C, as a national agency on March 17, 1912.

In late 1912, Juliette Gordon Low proposed that the Camp Fire Girls merge with her group, Girl Guides of America, but was rejected in January 1913 as the Camp Fire Girls were then the larger group. By December 1913, Camp Fire Girls' membership was an estimated 60,000, many of whom began attending affiliated summer camps. The Bluebird program was introduced that year for younger girls, offering an exploration of ideas and creative play built around family and community. In 1989, the Bluebirds became Starflight.

The first official Camp Fire Girls handbook was published in 1913. During World War I, Camp Fire Girls helped to sell over one million dollars in Liberty Bonds and over $900,000 in Thrift Stamps; 55,000 girls helped to support French and Belgian orphans, and an estimated 68,000 girls earned honors by conserving food.

The first local Camp Fire Girls council was formed in 1918 in Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas City would later become the national headquarters for Camp Fire in 1977.

Camp Fire Girls celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1960 with the "She Cares ... Do You?" program. During the project, Camp Fire Girls planted more than two million trees, built 13,000 birdhouses, and completed several other conservation-oriented tasks. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Camp Fire Girls, in connection with their Golden Jubilee Convention celebration, a stamp designed by H. Edward Oliver was issued featuring the Camp Fire Girls insignia. A new program, Junior Hi, where twelve- and thirteen-year-old girls explored new interests as a group and as individuals, was created in 1962. This program name changed later to Discovery. That same year, the WoHeLo medallion became Camp Fire's highest achievement and honor.

In 1969, Camp Fire Girls were allowed to be "Participants" in BSA's Explorer Posts (for boys 14 and older). This arrangement ended in 1971, when the BSA made Explorers a co-ed program. By 1974, Camp Fire's membership was at 274,000 in 1,300 communities of the United States. Camp Fire Girls expanded its horizons in 1975, welcoming boys to participate in all Camp Fire activities. While boys were invited to Camp Fire Girls Horizon Conferences in the late 1960s and early 1970s, official membership was not offered to them until 1975, when the organization became co-ed. Camp Fire decided that boys and girls should be together in one organization, so that they learn to play and work alongside each other and appreciate their similarities and differences in positive ways.

(taken from )


.2 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Guide to the Camp Fire Girl records
John Esh
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Towson University Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Albert S. Cook Library
8000 York Rd
Towson MD 21252 United States