Skip to main content

Commonwealth Council of the Girl Scouts of Virginia records

Identifier: M 400

Scope and Contents

The Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia (GSCV) records are composed of documents, correspondence, photographs, audio-visual materials, textiles, and artifacts that chronicle the evolution of Girl Scouting in the greater Richmond, Virginia area and the creation of the Commonwealth Council. The collection ranges in date from approximately 1913 through 2012, with the bulk of the materials falling within 1924-2005. The collection has been arranged into nine series.

Series 1: Council and Administrative Materials

Materials related to the running and administration of the GSCV are located in this series. These items include policies and procedures, financial records, GSCV and Girl Scouting history in VA, and correspondence. This series also contains policies and procedures as outlined by both the Girl Scouts of the USA and GSCV and its preceding entities. Series 1 comprises nine subseries.

1.1 Policies, Procedures, and Administrative Documents.

1.2 Reports: Series 1.2 contains reports written by, about, or for the Richmond/ Commonwealth Council of VA Girl Scouts. They are arranged by author type and chronologically therein. Self-reports are first, followed by National Girl Scout reports, and reports about but not by Girl Scout entities are last.

1.3 Meeting Materials and Minutes: Materials pertaining to meetings are kept with their respective meetings. This includes notes, minutes, correspondence, and other meeting items. Additionally, information on the formation of Black troops in Richmond can be found in the minutes starting in 1931. These materials are arranged by Council/Board/Annual Meetings, which may have committee materials included in chronological order, followed by solo committee materials, arranged alphabetically and then chronologically.

1.4 Financial: Includes financial records and audits, both for the Council, as well as local troops. Series 1.4 is arranged chronologically.

1.5 United Way of Greater Richmond.

1.6 Correspondence and Printed Administrative Materials.

1.7 History: Many materials relate to the history of Black Scouting in Richmond, the earliest records of Girl Scouting in Richmond, general history, and the records of the councils that preceded the Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

1.8 Administrator's Materials: These materials contain the individual correspondence and effects of administrators in their work as scouts or representatives of the GSCV.

1.9 Other Councils: Materials from Councils outside of GSCV and its preceding councils are included here.

Series 2: Camps

Most materials relating to camps run by GSVA are maintained in this series. Items like photographs and scrapbooks relating to camping or specific camps are listed in their respective subseries, but housed with other photographs and scrapbooks. Slides, books, as well as photographs that may pertain to a camp, but are not identified as such may be listed or found in Series 6: A/V or in Series 9: Printed.

The Series has been broken into nine subseries, most of which pertain to individual camps.

2.1 Camp Administration Materials: Additional materials relating to the administration of camps may also be found in Series 1.

2.2 General Camp Materials: General materials not related to the administration of camps as a whole, or of individual camps without their own subseries are contained here.

2.3 Camp Materials: Contains materials from individual camps. This series is arranged alphabetically by camp, and chronologically therein. Camps include: Day Camps, Holly Dell, Kittamaqund, Pamunkey Ridge, Pine Grove, Pinoaka, Pocahontas.

Series 3: Troop Records and Related Materials

Materials that are related to specific troops are housed in this series. These items in this series include correspondence, financial records, speeches, clippings, photographs, and scrapbooks. Materials related to finances are contained in series 1.4: Financial. The bulk of Dorothy Armstrong’s donation to the GSCV is housed in this series. Materials such as clippings, scrapbooks, and photographs are physically housed with like-materials.

Series 4: Programming and Events

These materials relate to programs and events created or attended by GSCV troops or members. These include regional and national conferences and conventions, Girl Scout Week, "Wider Opportunity," and GS Cookie Week, as well as events like Youth Expos, fashion shows, visits by dignitaries, and breakfasts. This series and its subseries are arranged alphabetically and chronologically therein. This series has been divided into four subseries as follows:

4.1 Anniversary Materials.

4.2 Regional Conferences.

4.3 National Conferences and Conventions.

4.4 General Event Programs and Related Materials.

Series 5: Awards, Recognitions, and Related Materials

Materials that document awards and recognitions received or given by GSCV and its members are kept in this series. This includes awards-related correspondence, applications, and the award, certificate, or proclamation itself.
This series is arranged chronologically.

Series 6: Photographs, Slides, and Audio-Visual Material

This series contains photographs and scrapbooks that did not fit with other series. It also contains slides and audio-visual materials consisting of audio cassettes, 45 and 33 rpm records, compact disks, DVDs, VHS, and film reels. Scrapbooks can contain photographs, newspaper clippings, article clippings, pamphlets, and tickets. Materials are grouped by type, and an effort has been made to arrange them in chronological order; many dates are approximate. Photographs are in black and white unless otherwise noted until approximately 1962; after 1992, photographs are in color unless noted. This series is arranged into five subseries.

6.1 Photographs and Photograph Albums.

6.2 Slides: This subseries contains slides from the 1950s through the 2000s. They are arranged alphabetically, and chronologically therein.

6.3 Scrapbooks.

6.5 Audio-Visual: This subseries contains film reels, video cassettes, DVDs, audio CDs and audiocassettes, and 45 and 33 rpm records.

Series 7: Textiles and Related Materials

Textiles and related materials such as hats, belts, shoes, catalogs, and information on uniforms are kept in this series. There are multiple complete Brownie and Girl Scouts uniforms from various points in the history of the Scouts maintained in this series. Some patches, pins, and badges that are attached to sashes are in this series. Individual patches and some older textiles may also be located in Series 8: Artifacts and Ephemera. 7.1 Textile and Uniform Information and Records: This subseries contains materials that relay information about the uniforms: their evolution, their production, and items such as catalogs and patterns. 7.2 Uniforms and Textiles.

Series 8: Artifacts and Ephemera

This series houses artifacts from the history of the Girl Scouts in Virginia. Of particular interest are items like Girl Scout paper dolls, a branded Brownie Camera, canteens and collapsible camping cups, patches and badges, and Girl Scout pins. There are also multiple items of ephemera such as Girl Scout cookie boxes and stationery.

Series 9: Printed Materials

This series contains books, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, newsletters and other printed items, loose newspaper and magazine clippings. The publisher is either the Girl Scouts, the GSCV, or an outside entity. This series is arranged alphabetically by topic (annual events, Cookie Sale, handbooks, etc.) and/or title and chronologically therein. Of particular note is the wide array of Girl Scout booklets and the “Newsletters” section, which contains an early extended run of “The Girl Scout Leader” from approximately 1932-1940, as well as runs of “Trefoil,” “Girl Scout News,” “Images,” and “LEaDS” from 1982-1999.


  • Creation: 1910-2012

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical Information

The Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia Council began in 1963 following a merger between the Girl Scouts of Richmond and the Girl Scouts of Southside Virginia councils to provide more extensive services to Scouts in central Virginia. However, neither this council nor the two preceding it was the start of Girl Scouting in the area. There has been active Girl Scouting in Richmond prior to the official establishment of a council, though few records of the earliest days remain. Using Boy Scout manuals and enlisting the guidance of the director of the Richmond Boy Scouts, area girls recruited adult leaders and began informal scouting groups. In November 1913, the first official Girl Scout troop in Virginia, Pansy Troop Number 1, was formed in Highland Springs. Sponsored by the Women's Study Club for Right Living of Highland Springs, the troop was founded by Mrs. Kate G. Read and Mrs. Marion T. Read. This troop eventually split into two: Pansy Troop no. 1 and Pansy Troop no. 2, due to demand from local girls for membership.

The Girl Scouts of Richmond Council was formally organized on April 12, 1921 when the first Council Meeting was held at the Jefferson Hotel with 35 adult members, 11 troops, and 75 girls. The council received its official charter on May 10 of that year as the second chartered council in Virginia. Because of the Highland Springs troop's formation in 1913 and their inclusion in the Richmond Council, 1913 is commonly used for the date of inception for the Richmond Girl Scouts. In 1928, under the leadership of Commissioner Ruth Robertson McGuire, the Richmond Council was incorporated by the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Initially, the Girl Scouts of Richmond was a racially exclusive organization, open only to white girls and women. Black Scouting in Richmond did not begin until 1932, when Troop 34, the first African American Girl Scout troop south of the Potomac River, was established. Mrs. Lena B. Watson of Virginia Union University (VUU) was instrumental in the group’s formation when she approached the Richmond council for permission to form a Black troop. Some council members were supportive, but the council as a whole ultimately refused to consider it. The National Girl Scouting Headquarters became involved, forcing the Richmond council to allow the troop to form. In June 1932, the first Black troop formed at Hartshorn Hall at VUU with high school teacher Lavinia Banks as their leader. While Scouting in Richmond was developing, so too was Scouting in the southern part of Virginia. Hopewell formed its first troop in 1917, and many other troops in rural, semi-rural, and smaller urban areas followed. By 1942, the Petersburg Council organized, and the Hopewell Council formed in 1956, bringing many of the lone rural troops under the umbrella of a council. In 1958, the Hopewell Council merged with the Petersburg Council to form the Southside Council, bringing all troops in Southside Virginia Council services and support.

In response to rethinking the organization of Scouting in Virginia, the Richmond Council merged with the Southside Council to form the Commonwealth Council or the Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1962. During this time, troop integration became a reality for Virginia Girl Scouts. Integration began in 1963 with the Fort Lee troop. Black Scouts were allowed to participate at Camp Holly Dell for the first time, and by 1968 segregated troops were no more. Over the years, the councils that became the Commonwealth Council have provided programs and opportunities for girls to explore, learn, and build character through STEM, environmental stewardship, financial literacy, camping events, homemaking, and first aid. Citizenship was integral to Scouting from its inception. During World War I, Scouts entertained military troops at Fort Lee, and visited hospitals in morale-boosting calls. At least one scouting troop was so beloved for their service, that they were deemed honorary members of one of the units stationed at Fort Lee. In the Second World War, Scouts led scrap drives and defense preparedness activities. In addition to citizenship, Scouts raised awareness as well as money for their organization. In the earliest years of Scouting in Richmond, Scouts solicited donations by going door-to-door or having booths at fairs. In 1925, the Richmond Council became a member of the Community Chest, and could focus on other ways to fundraise. One successful fundraiser occurred when the troops brought John Philip Sousa and his band to Richmond, which raised a large amount of money for the organization and allowed the expansion of programs for the girls. The first cookie sale was in 1936, and approximately 11,694 pounds of cookies were sold, which allowed for expanded services, camping activities, and improved camping facilities. The annual event has been popular ever since, and continues to raise money for troop activities and support into the present day.

Camps have always been an important part of Girl Scouting. In the earliest years of the Richmond Council, white Girl Scouts used the Boy Scout camps for a few weeks every summer, but it soon became apparent that the girls needed their own camps. Eventually, the Richmond Council settled on a property in Bon Air, VA, that became Camp Pocahontas in 1928. Day Camps, held in conjunction with the YWCA, began in 1932. Camp Pinoaka for Black Girl Scouts in Pocahontas State Park followed in 1936, and the Petersburg Council purchased Camp Holly Dell in Chesterfield in 1951. All three camps were eventually sold, and resources put into two other camps- Camp Kittamaqund, established in 1964 in the Northern Neck, and Camp Pamunkey Ridge in Hanover County. Smaller sleep-away camps, as well as day camps, were also scattered across the tri-city area and the state.

As of 2021, the Commonwealth Council, or the Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia, is one of four councils in the state and serves over 17,500 girls and women in central Virginia, stretching from the cities of Emporia to Fredericksburg, with its headquarters in the greater Richmond area. It is governed by a Board of Directors, which is elected by delegates from the council membership. The Board is responsible for establishing policies, approving budgets, and setting the direction for the Council. The board consists of a Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Members-at-Large, and two girl board members. The CEO and girl members are ex-officio, non-voting members. All serve two-year terms, and may not serve more than three consecutive terms, though the Chair is eligible to serve an additional three successive terms in another position. The Board conducts its business as the entire unit and in smaller committees, such as the Executive Committee, Finance Committee, Membership, and Program Committees. An Annual Meeting of the Board is held, and the Board continues to meet throughout the year, as do committees, as needed.


130 Linear Feet (118 Boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection has been arranged into nine series. Further information on the series, their contents and organization can be found in the Scope and Content note.

Series 1: Council and Administrative Materials

  • 1.1 Policies, Procedures, and Administrative Documents
  • 1.2 Reports
  • 1.3 Meeting Materials and Minutes
  • 1.4 Financial
  • 1.5 United Way of Greater Richmond
  • 1.6 Correspondence and Printed Administrative Materials
  • 1.7 History
  • 1.8 Administrator's Materials
  • 1.9 Other Councils
Series 2: Camps
  • 2.1 Camp Administration Materials
  • 2.2 General Camp Materials
  • 2.3 Camp Materials
Series 3: Troop Records and Related Materials

Series 4: Programming and Events
  • 4.1 Anniversary Materials
  • 4.2 Regional Conferences
  • 4.3 National Conferences and Conventions
  • 4.4 General Event Programs and Related Materials
Series 5: Awards, Recognitions, and Related Materials

Series 6: Photographs, Slides, and A/V
  • 6.1 Photographs and Photograph Albums
  • 6.2 Slides
  • 6.3 Scrapbooks
  • 6.4 Audio-Visual
Series 7: Textiles and Related Materials
  • 7.1 Textile and Uniform Information and Records
  • 7.2 Uniforms and Textiles
Series 8: Artifacts and Ephemera Subseries:
  • 8.1 Artifacts
  • 8.2Ephemera

  • Series 9: Printed Materials

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    This collection contains many different formats. Negatives will need a scanner or light box to be properly accessed. Video formats include 35 and 78mm film, BetaCam, VHS, and U-Matic video and will need the proper video players to access them. CDs and DVDs, as well as audio cassette, reel-to-reel tape, 78 and 45 rpm records, and mini-cassette are included for audio formats.

    Acquisition Information

    This collection was donated by The Commonwealth Council of Virginia Girl Scouts in two batches in 2011 and 2014.

    Processing Information

    2022: The collection was minimally processed prior to 2014. Beginning in 2020 and finishing in 2022, the collection was fully processe. This included consolidating materials, removing duplicates, deaccessioning widely-available publications, and processing the two accessions into one collection.

    Commonwealth Council of the Girl Scouts of Virginia records
    A Collection in Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University, Collection number M 400.
    Jessica E. Johnson
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description

    Repository Details

    Part of the VCU James Branch Cabell Library Repository

    Special Collections and Archives 901 Park Avenue
    Richmond Virginia 23284 USA US
    (804) 828-1108