This project has been set up to clean, restore, preserve for the long-term, and document the history of Australian Guiding Uniform, and enable the Guides to learn and share the experience of making the project happen.

Brownie Uniform early 1960s (Girl Guide Uniform Archive)

The Girl Guides have been an important part of the Australian cultural landscape since their informal inception in 1911 and formal inauguration in New South Wales in 1920.

The NSW & ACT State Archive Collection of Girl Guide Uniforms is the oldest and one of the largest and most complete in Australia. Australia’s long-term contribution to WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) also makes this a collection of international significance. It includes items associated with noted individuals, as well as members from across Australia.

The volunteers of the Girl Guides are now cataloguing and conserving the collection. Thankfully, as Guides, we have the resource of many hands and interested parties willing to donate their time and effort to making sure that the historic Uniform collection survives well into the future.

Guide Belt buckle - imported from Britain - 1913-1924 pattern (Girl Guide Uniform Archive)

This project makes an ideal vehicle for Queens Guide and Olave Award candidates with interests in history, conservation, documentation, photography and other fields to give Service to Guiding at the same time as learning valuable skills and earning this portion of their Awards. Dr Sam Bowker of Charles Sturt University is providing academic support in conjunction with a Facebook group of uniform research specialists.

This is also an opportunity to bring the Girl Guides uniform history (and a wider history of our effect on youth over the last century) to the broader public. Publications, patterns, improved collection access and museum-standard storage systems are proposed.

Swan Patrol Emblem (Embroidered needle painting) - 1st Wahroonga Company – 1937 (Girl Guide Uniform Archive)

Project Plan

  • That the Girl Guides NSW/ACT State Uniform Archive be properly cleaned using current conservation techniques.
  • That current conservation techniques be used to restore the collection to a stable condition, and complete sets be made of each uniform iteration, using spares, dating back to the earliest times.
  • That these complete sets be photographed and documented by a professional costume historian, and the data published later, to aid access by researchers, either through print or online media.
  • That patterns be taken from each uniform iteration, for future replication of uniforms for wear by girls (Guiding History), and/or publication for use by interested parties.
  • That the collection be rationalised to include one or two uniforms from each iteration.
  • That candidates for the Queens Guide and Olave B-P Awards, as well as adult members, be encouraged to assist in this project as part of a Special Focus and a Service to Guiding.
  • That Grants be obtained to assist with the cost of restoring the collection and providing appropriate and adequate storage for future preservation.

Please contact Bess Cook if you are interested in assisting or learning more about this project.

Contact Information: Elizabeth (Bess) Cook. M: 0415 933 210.

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/GuideUniformArchiveProject/

Email: madelizabethan@gmail.com