Girls' Friendly Society
Sponsor: Episcopal Church
Started around 1877
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.
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
Later, "Bear Ye One Another's Burden" was moved to the border of the membership pin
Sometime later "USA" was added to the membership pin
GFS Rings could be worn instead of a pin to show membership
Enameled GFS pin
1922 - Candidate's Card
Candidates were either girls too young to join, or of-age girls requesting membership.
1911 - Probationer's Card
Probationers had to wait 3 months to join.
Enameled Junior GFS pin
1914 - Membership Card