March 12th marked the one hundredth anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Juliette Gordon Low had been inspired by Boy Scouts creator Sir Robert Baden-Powell and organized 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia, on that day in 1912, launching an organization that would teach self-reliance, self-confidence, and life lessons to millions of women. To commemorate the anniversary, the USPS will be releasing a new postage stamp in June honoring the Girl Scouts of the USA. The June 9th release date coincides with the Girl Scouts’ annual Rock The Mall event in Washington D.C., which also includes an event at the Smithsonian looking at the history of women in postage stamps.
As you might guess, the Girls Scouts have held a prominent place in the history of women on U.S. postage stamps during the past century. The first came in 1948, honoring Girl Scouts creator Juliette Low. Before the 1940s, few women had appeared on stamps other than Martha Washington, figurative views of womanhood, or the Statue of Liberty. The stamp was authorized by President Truman in July, 1948, and the design was rushed to be ready by the anniversary of Low’s birthday on October 31st. The stamp was printed in green, evoking the Girl Scout colors, and depicted Low wearing her Scouting uniform.
In 1962, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Girl Scouts’ creation, the USPS issued a 4¢ postage stamp in connection with that year’s annual Girl Scout Jubilee. The original stamp had a green, black, and gold multicolor design by Ward Brackett, but the looming postage rate increase would mean a costly redesign if the price changed before release. For simplicity, the USPS went with a single-color stamp – choosing red, a color normally reserved only for air mail postage, making this the first red standard-rate postage stamp in the US.
For the 75th anniversary of the Girl Scouts in 1987, the USPS released a stamp, designed by Richard D. Sheaff, depicting fourteen Girl Scouts Proficiency badges on a green background representing the Girl Scouts sash. These included some of the new badges launched in 1980 as part of the Worlds to Explore Proficiency badge series, with modern achievements such as computer fun, aerospace, and science around town.
In 1997, the USPS released a series of 30 stamps called the “Celebrating the Century” series, which included one stamp commemorating the creation of the Boy and Girl Scouts in the 1910s. The image shows a girl wearing an early design of the Girl Scouts uniform, which more closely resembled the classic Boy Scouts uniform, in khaki and wearing a broad-brimmed “Smokey the Bear” style hat.
The Girl Scouts centennial postage stamp to be released in June 2012 was designed as a companion to the Boy Scouts of America centennial stamp released in 2010. Both stamps feature a silhouette of a Scout surveying the distance, outlining a vignette of scouting activities in the wilderness, and both were illustrated by the same designer, Craig Frazier of Mill Valley, California. The stamp will be a “Forever” stamp, a regular postage-rate stamp that will continue to be the value of the current postage rate regardless of any upcoming increases.