Excerpt from the Girl Scout Handbook – 1926


I believe we can learn so much from what’s been written for young girls and women. Here’s an excerpt from the Girl Scout Handbook printed in 1926: 

Household Economics, the great general business and profession of women, if it is raised to the level of the other great businesses and professions, and managed quickly, efficiently and economically, will cease to be regarded as drudgery and take its real place among the arts and sciences. 

When the girls of today have learned to do this, the women of tomorrow will be spared the criticism of waste and extravagance that our nation has had to bear. If Girl Scouts make good as far as this medal is concerned and become real “Scout Aides” the Scout reputation is secure. 


BY SARAH LOUISE ARNOLD, Formerly Dean of Simmons College 

The Keeper of the House – Every Girl Scout knows that good homes make a country neat and good; so every woman wants to understand home-making. Of course that means “keeping” a house; and of course that means that Girl Scouts should try for the Housekeeper Merit Badge, the “Home Maker.” 

Now “making a home” doesn’t mean just having it, owning it and holding its key. It means making it a good place to live in, or helping to make it so. This sounds like the House that Jack built; but all this belongs to the making of a home. 

Planning Your House – When you plan a house of your own you must think what it needs most. You would choose, first of all, to have abundant air, fresh and clean; a dry spot where dampness will not stay; sunshine at some time of day in every room of the house, which you can have if your house faces southeast; and you must be able to get a good supply of pure water. You will want to make your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer, so you will look out for windows, doors and porches. 

Think what must be done in a house: eating, sleeping, working, resting, by the whole family. How many rooms must you have? Draw a plan of some house in your neighborhood that seems good to live in. Make up your mind what you like best in that house.  

Furnishings – Then houses must be furnished with the things that the family needs. The furniture will be for use. You must ask every piece what it is good for. What will you do with it? Could you get along without it? Some things you would use constantly, others once in a while. Which would you get first if you were planning carefully? How much would it cost to furnish the house for which you have drawn the plans: to furnish the kitchen, the living room, the bedrooms? Make a list of the furniture needed (not just wanted) for each room with the cost of each piece.

It is worthwhile for you to go to look at furniture in stores and to think about buying it. Then you will discover that a piece of furniture that looks well in the store might not look at all well in your house, for furniture must “suit” the house and the room into which it goes. It must “fit,” we say. No other furniture will do. So the Girl Scout will make up her mind what will fit her house; and of course this means also what will fit the family purse. For the keeper of the house must not let into her house one single thing that she cannot afford to buy. She will take pride in that.

So when you make a list of furniture–with its price–make sure that everything you choose, suits, or fits, your house.


What can we learn about the perceptions of girls and women in 1926? Any comments you’d like to add or share?

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