- Agnes Baden-Powell
Agnes Smyth Baden-Powell (16 December 1858 – 2 June 1945) was the younger sister of
Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, and was most noted for her work in establishing the Girl Guide movement as a female counterpart to her older brother's Scouting Movement.
Agnes was born "Agnes Smyth Powell" into a family of ten children, being the ninth child and the third daughter. Her father, the Reverend Baden Powell, was the
Savilian Chair of Geometryat the University of Oxford.
Her mother, Henrietta Grace Smyth, was the third wife of Rev. Baden Powell (the previous two having died), and was a gifted musician and artist.
When Agnes was only two years of age, the Reverend Baden Powell died. In order to honour him after his death, the family added Baden to their names and have since been known as Baden-Powell.
This left the family under the firm control of Henrietta, who was determined to instil in her children a desire to succeed. As Agnes' brother, Robert, has been quoted "The whole secret of my getting on lay with my mother."cite book | first = Tim | last = Jeal | authorlink = Tim Jeal | title = Baden-Powell | publisher = Hutchinson | year = 1989 | pages = 79, 82, 86, 145-146, 155, 347-352, 427 ]
Agnes went on to become an accomplished musician, playing the organ, piano and violin. She also had many varied interests, including natural history and astronomy, and kept bees at her home.
The Guide Movement
Following the creation of the Boy Scout Association, Robert Baden-Powell organised a gathering of Scouts at the Crystal Palace in
Londonin 1909. He was mildly surprised to see a significant number of self-styled "Girl Scouts" who sought to imitate their brothers and join in with the Scouting phenomenon.
Popular opinion at this time was prejudice against girls in Guiding, fearing it would make them immodest, impolite tomboys. Agnes Baden-Powell's character was useful in counteracting these opinions. A friend wrote of her:
Anyone who had come into touch with her gentle influence, her interest in all womanly arts, and her love of birds, insects, and flowers, would scoff at the idea of her being the president of a sort of Amazon Cadet Corps.cite book| last =Kerr | first =Rose | title =Story of the Girl Guides 1908-1938 | publisher =Girl Guides Association | date =1976 | location =London]
In 1909, Agnes and Robert together published "Pamphlet A: Baden-Powell Girl Guides, a Suggestion for Character Training for Girls" and "Pamphlet B: Baden-Powell Girl Guides, a Suggestion for Character Training for Girls".cite web | title = Fact Sheet - The Three Baden-Powells: Robert, Agnes and Olave | publisher = Girl Guides of Canada Guides du Canada| url = http://www.girlguides.ca/media/pdfs/14-3/126.96.36.199.pdf| accessdate = 2006-09-28 ] These were precursors to the handbook.
By April, 1910, there were 6,000 young girls registered as Girl Guides.
During this time, Agnes and Robert collaborated on the Guides' first handbook. Entitled "The Handbook for the Girl Guides or How Girls Can Help to Build Up the Empire ", and published in 1912, it was a reworking of the
Scouting for Boysbook written by Robert several years earlier. It is often referred to simply as "How Girls Can Help To Build Up the Empire".
The Girl Guide Movement was given official recognition in 1915, and Agnes was made the actual President at the same time.
In 1920, Agnes resigned from the Presidency in favour of Princess Mary, who was also a keen supporter of the Girl Guides.
Agnes continued in her role as Vice-President until her death in June, 1945, at the age of 86.
Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell
* [http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Bluffs/3965/agnesbp.html Short biography of Agnes Baden-Powell]
* [http://www.saltdeanbrownies.co.uk/AWP/activelst.asp?id=7&cat=3 More information Girl Guides and Agnes Baden-Powell]
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