New Bedford Was First to Open Girl Scouts to African Americans
New Bedford was not only "the city that lit the world," there is increasing evidence that New Bedford helped enlighten the world.
While researching another article, I stumbled upon some entirely unrelated information that stopped me in my tracks. The wonderful thing about research is that it often takes you in unexpected directions helping you to learn new things along the way.
Here is a bit of what I learned: the first Girl Scout troop in eastern Massachusetts was founded right here in New Bedford in 1913 by Emma Hall. It was named the "Red Rose Troop." The Red Rose Troop was no ordinary Girl Scout troop, and Emma Hall was no ordinary woman.
You see, according to the Girl Scout Musem at Cedar Hill, Waltham, Massachusetts, the Red Rose Troop was "the first troop nationally to welcome African American girls and the third official Girl Scout troop in the United States."
Historic Women of the SouthCoast.com has reprinted some of the museum's findings on Emma Hill and the Red Rose Troop.
Museum researchers say Emma Hall (1865-1949) "devoted her life to service and was a tireless advocate for the welfare of old and young, and for those who were at a disadvantage in the community." They say Hall "used her resources and her influences to make the world a better place and was also a hands-on leader and mentor throughout her life."
The research found that Hall was also "instrumental" in establishing the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Children's Aid Society, and the Red Cross. "Working with her friends, she helped establish programs for Sol e Mar Hospital for Crippled Children in South Dartmouth, realizing that patients needed fresh air, special diets, and physical therapy," according to the research published.
In the 1920s, Hall opened the Girl Scout Chorus and New Bedford Drum and Bugle Corps "to girls from various racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds, according to the museum's researchers." Hall helped form a Girl Scout troop at Sassaquin Sanatorium for patients with tuberculosis and helped found the first Girl Scout camp in Eastern Massachusetts in South Dartmouth.
Hall was born in 1865 as the Civil War ended. The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln occurred the year she was born. Racial issues deeply divided the nation in 1865. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery was ratified on December 6, 1865.
Emma Hall was a national Girl Scout leader until her death at age 84 in 1949.