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Camp Bonnie Brae records

Identifier: SSC-MS-00592

Scope and Contents

The Camp Bonnie Brae Records consist of extensive documentation of camp activities, notably photographs; files pertaining to construction and maintenance of buildings and grounds, including maps, blueprints, drawings, and photographs; and administrative records from the camps founding in 1919 through 2007, including correspondence, reports, minutes, financial information, information about staff, songbooks, publicity materials, and publications. Thre are also documentary films, slides of camp grounds and activities, a camp scrapbook, and memorabilia. Recent additions pertain to Adeline Friedlander, from her time as a camper at Camp Bonnie Brae in the late 1920s and early 1930s; materials from her funeral (2007), and from the dedication of the Girl Scouts of Western Massachusetts's Adeline M. Friedlander Museum and Visitor Center (2009). A small amount of clippings and photographs relating to the camp, collected by Friedlander, is also included.

Note: the films from this collection have been digitized and are available to view online.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1914 - 2009


Conditions Governing Access

At the direction of the donor, this collection is available for research use with the condition that researchers must sign an access agreement prior to use. Please consult with special collections staff at to begin this process.

Conditions Governing Access

Box 12 is CLOSED due to film odor.

Conditions Governing Use

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to the unpublished works by the creator of this collection. Copyright to materials created by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Camp Bonnie Brae, located in East Otis, Massachusetts, is the oldest continuously operating Girl Scout camp in the United States. Begun in 1919, the camp is administered by the Girl Scouts of Pioneer Valley in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. The original building was an inn, also called Bonnie Brae, and was owned by Loring P. Lane. Edith Sinnett, first director of the Springfield Girl Scouts, and her friend, Edith G. Newell, wished to see the organization establish a summer camp, and in the summer of 1919 they rented Bonnie Brae from the Lane family and gave public notice that Girl Scouts could apply to attend. The fee was five dollars per week. The program for summer included nature study, as well as tennis, basketball, baseball, and volleyball. The official uniform was middy blouse and bloomers. No high heels or silk stockings were allowed. A bugler and a cook were hired for the summer, and two dietitians from Boston planned the menus for the camp. The success of the 1919 camp season made certain the continuation of the project, so accordingly the Girl Scout Council bought the 227 acres of land, the buildings, and the furniture from Mr. Lane for $10,000. Counselors served on a volunteer basis, and came from various occupations around the Springfield area. The camp maintained a 1:7 staff to camper ratio. In 1921, several troops of the Springfield Council donated money for scholarships so that girls who lacked the fees could attend. The camp has always accommodated persons of all races, creeds, and economic backgrounds. Also in 1921, the waterfront program at Camp Bonnie Brae was reorganized by an instructor from the American Red Cross. The campers were divided into three groups according to their swimming skills, and great emphasis was placed on graduating from one group to the next. The system of water buddies as a means of keep track of swimmers was instituted at Camp Bonnie Brae, the first camp in the country to do so. To enable Bonnie Brae to accommodate older girls, and to offer a better program for younger scouts, property was purchased a half-mile from Bonnie Brae and a Brownie Camp established there in 1941. Also in 1941, the Second Western Hemisphere Encampment was held at Camp Bonnie Brae. Girls from fourteen countries and from all over the United States attended. The guest of honor was Eleanor Roosevelt, and during her visit she spoke with the girls about democracy, proper nutrition, the bases of a post-war peace, and international cooperation. The camp has expanded its facilities over the years to include more campers and offer more activities. As of 2007, the summer program accomodated 140 girls from around the country and the world. There are also non-residential programs offerd in spring, fall, and winter.


12.092 linear feet (17 containers)

Language of Materials



Camp for girls. Records document camp activities and include photographs; administrative records from the camps founding in 1919 through 2007, including correspondence, reports, minutes, financial information, information about staff, songbooks, publicity materials, and publications; and as well as files pertaining to buildings and grounds.


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Camp Bonnie Brae Records were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection by Shelly Kolb and Jill Paul in 2007-2009.

Additional Formats

The films from this collection have been digitized and are available to view online.

Related Materials

Associated material: Photographs at the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum (Springfield, Mass.)

Processing Information

Processed by Burd Schlessinger, 2008.

Processing Information

Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. A full crosswalk of old to new numbers is available.

Finding Aid to the Camp Bonnie Brae records
Finding aid prepared by Burd Schlessinger.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:18-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2021-06-17: Content listing added from accession inventories

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063