Charlotte Richter/Staff Writer
Annabelle Sweet, 16-year-old Ambassador Scout in Girl Scouts of America Trailblazer Troop 5462, revealed her museum exhibit on the 100 years of Girl Scouts and their presence at Fort Leavenworth as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award Project March 22 at the Frontier Army Museum.
The exhibit features information on Girl Scouts history, the evolution of uniforms and troops on post, the current Trailblazer troop, and Hastings House, the Girl Scouts building on post.
Artifacts in the exhibit include the National Council of the Girl Scouts Charter granted to Fort Leavenworth Girl Scouts in 1926, uniforms from 1958 and 1988, handbooks from the 1950s and a plaque from 1969.
The exhibit’s unveiling coincides with the Fort Leavenworth Girl Scouts’ centennial anniversary, in conjunction with Women’s History Month; it will be on display for a year.
Sweet has been in Girl Scouts for 11 years. She said her mom, Lisa Sweet, encouraged her to complete the Gold Award following the completion of her Silver Award in eighth grade. The Gold Award is the highest earned award in the organization; fewer than 6 percent of Girl Scouts earn the award annually.
Sweet said she wanted to help with Girl Scout recruiting and expanding the public knowledge about the organization — she said most people are not as familiar with Girl Scouts as with Boy Scouts of America, now known as Scouts BSA.
Sweet said her idea to create a museum exhibit began following her discovery of a video from 1929 featuring a mounted Girl Scout troop at Fort Leavenworth near the current location of Gruber Fitness Center. The video depicts the post Scouts in uniform jumping hurdles on horseback and chanting in unison.
“Here there was the only mounted Girl Scout troop, which they’re ‘Trailblazers,’ but they weren’t called that yet,” Sweet said. “They were the only (mounted troop) in the nation, and that really wowed me.
“I looked deeper into what Girls Scouts did, and it’s not just crafting — we go camping and we go hiking. A lot of the traditions from back then contrast from now and this shows how much we’ve evolved.”
Sweet said she wants to inform people about Girl Scouts history on Fort Leavenworth. She will be offering a guided Girl Scout History Walk May 15 on post, time to be determined.
She also plans to add significant Girl Scout locations to the Fort Leavenworth Wayside Tour pamphlet and help other Girl Scouts earn their silver award by cleaning and preserving uniforms and artifacts found in Hastings House.
Sweet said her project mentor Megan Hunter, FAM deputy director and museum specialist, recognized there was little information about Girl Scouts in the museum’s archives despite the organization’s presence on post.
“We have a lot of information on the Boy Scouts, but not as much on the Girl Scouts,” Hunter said. “It has been really eye-opening to learn about, especially being a female working at this museum. The majority of our collection is male-related, especially in the time period we focus on, so it’s great to add more content about women. There are a lot of great women associated with Fort Leavenworth.”
Sweet and Hunter worked together to research, write and edit the panels in the exhibit, design the layout in the display and stage artifacts. Hunter taught Sweet about museum standards for writing, accessibility and artifact conservation. Sweet said she did not anticipate the detail required to design and create a museum exhibit.
Hunter said the project is also an opportunity to tell the story of younger generations on post.
For more information about the museum, visit https://history.army.mil/museums/TRADOC/frontier-army-museum/index.html.