From 1923 until 1929 Grace Goodhue Coolidge was First Lady of the United States. An extremely popular First Lady, one of the causes closest to her heart was her work with deaf Americans. Continuing a tradition begun with Edith Wilson, she was also the honorary president of the Girl Scouts.(1)
Like First Ladies dating back to Lucy Hayes, Mrs. Coolidge opened the grounds of the White House on Easter Monday for the traditional Easter egg roll. The custom may have originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch, or it might have been grown from the French game of bowls. There are many variations on egg rolling, but in the 1920s, the object was to roll your hard boiled egg down an incline, hoping that it would not be knocked out or broken as other children rolled their egg purposefully at yours.
|Easter egg roll on the White House lawn, 1925|
Every year she was First Lady, Mrs. Coolidge invited children to roll eggs on the White House lawn. In 1925, 38,377 people came for the fun. As the New York Times noted humorously, “more than forty parents became lost.” That year, the First Lady dispensed with White House police officers whose job had hitherto been to reunite parents with children. Instead, she gave the important task to local Girl Scouts. They erected a command center, fanned out, communicated successfully with each other, located the missing family members, and brought them all back together.(2)
|First Lady at the 1925 Easter egg roll, with one of her Girl Scout escorts|
Perhaps it was partly in response to the good turn the Girl Scouts were doing–working rather than playing on that Easter Monday in April of 1925–but less than two months later, Grace Coolidge herself became a Girl Scout. The photograph below shows Juliette Gordon Low affixing the Tenderfoot pin on a smiling Mrs Coolidge.(3)
(1) Copy of Executive Board Minutes, October 1923, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. National Historic Preservation Center, New York City, file Juliette Gordon Low, 1923.
(2) “38,000 Frolic on Capitol Lawns at Egg-Rolling,” New York Times, 14 April 1925.
(3) “Mrs. Coolidge a Tenderfoot Scout,” New York Times, 6 June 1925.
All photographs are from the Library of Congress.The Library of Congress dates the third photo as 1923.