Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

History Women

Guiding Modern Girls

Girlhood, Empire, and Internationalism in the 1920s and 1930s

by (author) Kristine Alexander

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2017
Women, 20th Century, Women's Studies
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2017
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2017
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2018
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Across the British Empire and the world, the 1920s and 1930s were a time of unprecedented social and cultural change. Girls and young women were at the heart of many of these shifts. Out of this milieu, the Girl Guide movement emerged as a response to modern concerns about gender, race, class, and social instability. In this book, Kristine Alexander analyzes the ways in which Guiding sought to mould young people in England, Canada, and India. It is a fascinating account that connects the histories of girlhood, internationalism, and empire, while asking how girls and young women understood and responded to Guiding’s attempts to lead them toward a “useful” feminine future.

About the author


  • Short-listed, 2019 Ferguson Prize, Canadian Historical Association
  • Winner, Founder's Prize for Best English-language Book, Canadian History of Education Association
  • Winner, Wilson Book Prize, The Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University

Contributor Notes

Kristine Alexander is an assistant professor of history and Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Studies at the University of Lethbridge.

Editorial Reviews

Guiding Modern Girls unveils how the early Girl Guide movement carved out spaces of intergenerational female homosociality that were neither fully empowering nor exclusively oppressive. On a larger scale, it gestures at the untapped potential buried in the history of youth organizations for charting the stony and serpentine trails that led to the emergence of a global modernity.


Kristine Alexander makes a significant contribution to the intertwined histories of girlhood, imperialism, and the international Girl Guide movement.

Canadian Historical Review

Alexander paints a complex image of the organization, which was the epitome of the simultaneously dynamic and traditional nature of British society in the interwar period, and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the Girl Guides through this thought-provoking transnational study.

Historical Studies in Education, Vol. 31, No. 1