Girls' Friendly Society

The Girls' Friendly Society of the USA began a mere 2 years after it was launched in the United Kingdom in 1875. The term "girl"  generally meant a young lady - someone considered adult by today's standards. Young ladies were leaving their rural homes and going to the big city to get jobs. Many churches formed groups to help these young ladies find housing & employment while staying safe and on the straight and narrow. The Episcopal Church started the Girls' Friendly Society.

As years passed, younger members were allowed to join. In an undated Leader's Guide for GFS that appears to be from the late 1930's, defines membership as; Candidates - girls from 5-12 years old (some parishes was 5-14 years) who were too young to be full members,  Young Members - girls 12-18, Older Members  - 18 and older, Associates - Leaders of GFS groups, Honorary Associates - interested churchwomen who were not active, but still interested in GFS.

Members developed their own programs, with guidance, based on their interests.

Holiday Houses were vacation homes established throughout America for GFS members. Girls attended with their GFS group. Activities included swimming, hiking, dramatics, handicrafts, etc. Generally girls slept inside and meals were provided. A 1937 list of Holiday Houses showed many on the east coast, and one as far west as Colorado.

Fund raising for GFS groups was through Christmas Card sales. Issues of the official magazine of GFS, The Record, show many reminders to order plenty of cards early!

The Girls' Friendly Society continues today for girls 5-21 years old. It is open to girls of any race, religion or nationality. It remains an international organization in at least 23 countries. Some websites show girls in uniforms but I have not found any information that the GFS USA members wear uniforms.

Motto: Bear Ye One Another's Burden

 

Promise: To share God’s love for all people,
To worship and serve faithfully,
To make my words true, and my actions right,
To grow strong in mind, body, and spirit,
To make the world a better place to live.

1913

The earliest known logo used by GFS in America, it is likely that it was same symbol used by the U.K., Ireland and other countries

Sometime later, GFS in America changed it's logo to include USA.

      

Members could wear the pin (shown above) or the ring to denote membership

Membership Ring

 

1922

Candidates were either girls too young to join, or of-age girls requesting membership.

 

1911

 Probationers had to wait 3 months to join.

 

1914

Membership Card

Girls' Friendly Society Button by Whitehead & Hoag

Postcards of Holiday Houses were common

Girls' Friendly Summer Camp, Woodgate, NY

 

"The Record"  November 1936

GFS  of the USA's official girl magazine

GFS Song Books

 

Postcard 1913

Girls' Friendly Society in America, in cooperation with the National Child Welfare Assn.