This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
Girls are less obtrusive than boys, less noisy, so that their congenial organization has been less noticed by adults. But their groups exist just as universally as do those of boys, and they are just as important educationally. Groups of girls are smaller than those of boys, and less stable; they are less likely to grow into formal organizations. Here are three accounts of groups composed of older girls;
. . . One worker in a large store noticed that a number of her girls were getting together in a corner of the rest room to read aloud. No one had suggested their doing it: they met because they enjoyed reading. One day the Leader joined the group and asked: "Girls, why don't you start a Literary Club? . . ."The suggestion met with instant approval. A flourishing Literary Club was the result. ... - Ferris, Girls' Clubs, pp. 47, 48.
I belonged to a group with three other girls. We were all about the same age. The group started in the early part of the seventh grade. At school we were always together and paid little attention to other pupils. The teachers tried to get us to mingle with the other children, but without success. Two of us took piano lessons, another vocal, and the other played the violin; therefore much of our time outside of school was spent in practicing music together. We could all roller-skate, so on Saturday afternoons we often went skating. One of our rules was that when we were going any place we must be there on time. No one dared to lie to another member of the group. These rules we always obeyed. When we graduated from the eighth grade two of us came to the normal and the other two went to the high school, so our group was broken up.
In a boarding club of eight girls there is a primary group of four. They became intimate while waiting for meals. In time they found that they had similar tastes for literature. At first they merely read and discussed literature at odd times; then they arranged to spend one evening a week together. Although these four enjoy the company of the eight at the table, yet when the meal is over the four go off together. One of them was invited to a party and wished very much to attend it. When she learned, however, that the other three were not invited, and saw how downcast they were over it, she declined the invitation. This is a sample of the loyalty to one another which they often exhibit. The strongest of the girls is giving the others not only her love for poetry, but also her confident bearing among people.
The following reports come from young women as a result of their experience in teaching, and therefore describe groups of younger girls:
Girls form groups for the purpose of playing, sewing, etc., and sometimes for the sole purpose of having companions in whom they can confide. In girls' groups we usually find a great deal of gossiping going on. Boys' groups are harder to break up; the members are more loyal to each other; they work more as a unit. Girls like to have their own way, therefore there is constant clashing in a group.
In my fifth-grade practice class there is a group of five girls that has grown into a formal organization. The purpose is to make dolls' dresses. They meet at the homes of the members on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. On Saturdays the sewing ends at three o'clock and they go in a body to the matinee. I was invited to one of their meetings. The chief topic of conversation was the merits and demerits of their practice teachers. They decided, among other things that afternoon, that they would make Miss C. "mad" by all chewing gum and writing notes.
There is some clashing among the girls, and usually over trivial matters. Occasionally a girl will come to me and ask for permission to change her seat; then, when asked the reason why, will say that she and her seat-mate are not on the best of terms. Of course I never give the girls permission for such a reason. Instead I arrange to have the two girls deal with each other in some way, and before they know it they are as good friends as ever. I have never known such a case to arise among the boys. They seem to settle such matters among themselves.
But some girls' groups are as lasting and harmonious as those of the boys:
I once knew a group of three girls. There seemed to be no reason why they should go together except that they simply enjoyed each other's company. They would read, play with dolls, and sew. One was a great reader, and often brought a book with her. Then the other two would sew while she would read. Two of the girls went to a convent school and the third to a public school, but this enforced separation seemed only to strengthen the group. When evening came they would meet and relate the experiences of the day; as much as possible of Saturday and Sunday would be spent together. By and by one of the girls moved away, but this separation was overcome by almost daily letters. Now, after the lapse of twelve years, this group still exists, kept together by correspondence and occasional visits.
There are four girls who are always together. They live in the same town and were friends before coming here. Misses W. and C. became acquainted while in the third grade; they were together through the grades and high school. Misses A. and C. were together through the grades in another school. These four girls formed one group during high school days. They came to Normal at the same time, roomed at the same place, took up the same course in school, and consequently are in all the same classes in school. They sit near each other in both the study room and the auditorium. They are loyal to each other. If one is absent the others resent any uncomplimentary remark about her.
One of the girls was to sing in a quartet. It was necessary for her to go early to practice, but there was some work about the room which she was to do. The other girls did her work as well as their own so that she could go.
In the same way, the other ideals are present, such as truthfulness, kindness, and lawfulness or abiding by the wish of the majority; also freedom, for although these four girls cooperate in all of their work there is still the feeling that they can do what they wish.
It is rare to find both girls and boys in the same group if beyond kindergarten age. Whenever that occurs the girls presumably have some masculine qualities, or the boys feminine qualities, or else the group is functional rather than primary.
When M. was a grammar grade pupil she played baseball with the boys. She could run fast and had plenty of nerve, so was a good player. When she neared the end of the eighth grade one of the boys said he hoped she would not pass so that she could continue on their team.
About thirty-five years ago, a group of boys and girls in the intermediate grades called themselves the KKK's - Ku-Klux-Klan. They read Scottish Chiefs by themselves, and as a result of it formed apian to free Scotland when they grew up. Some of the members of the group still exchange letters and so keep up the old group feeling. One of the women went recently with her son to visit one of the men.