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From the Cataloger’s Desk: Katherine’s Girl Scout Handbook

July 6, 2020

Summer is officially in full swing, and after a rough few months, many of us are eager to spend some quality time with Mother Nature. Hiking, camping, biking, gardening, swimming, fishing… the options are as entertaining as they are endless. Plus, there’s an added bonus: it’s easy to practice safe social distancing in the great outdoors! I recently cataloged a Girl Scout handbook that brought some of these recreational activities, as well as many fond memories, to mind.

This particular handbook is from 1932, and belonged to Katherine Suhrheinrich, a member of Bayard Park Troop #10 in Evansville. Based on the touching inscription, it was a birthday gift from her parents. I did a little research online, and Katherine would have been turning 12 that year. The book is in fairly good condition but was obviously well-used. Handwritten notes and markings appear throughout, and there are definite signs of wear and tear (scuffed binding, loose spine, torn pages, etc.). If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you know I love a book like this, because it tells me about its previous owner and offers up fascinating little clues about its journey over time.

As a former Girl Scout, myself, some of the handbook’s contents ring a bell; however, a lot changed between Katherine’s time in the 1930s and my time in the 1990s. Regardless, her handbook includes many skills a young scout might still want to learn today: sign language, signaling, tracking, pathfinding, measuring, camping, gardening, first aid and so much more. There are also helpful sections on Girl Scout history, ceremonies, rank requirements, and special badges. Best of all, wonderful photographs and illustrations accompany the text. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Whether you’re looking for some fun summer activity ideas, needing to brush up on your outdoor skills, or simply wanting to take a trip down memory lane, come explore Katherine’s handbook (record found here). And just so you know, the IHS library has many more Girl Scout and Boy Scout materials in the collection. Visit our online catalog to begin your search!

Lindsay Borman is the cataloger of Printed Collections at the Indiana Historical Society. Her claim to fame: she can name all of the U.S. presidents … in order!

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