The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. (Junior League or JL) is a private, voluntarism nonprofit with 291 Junior League chapters in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, as one of the oldest and largest of its kind.
|Predecessor||Junior League for the Promotion of the Settlement Movement,|
New York Junior League
New York, NY, U.S.
|Founder||Mary Harriman Rumsey|
|Type||Private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit|
|Headquarters||80 Maiden Lane|
New York, NY 10038
|Dorothy Payne Whitney (First President, AJLI)|
Laurel Lee-Alexander (President)
|Subsidiaries||291 Junior League chapters|
|$7,195,946 (FY 2019)|
|Expenses||$7,035,466 (FY 2019) inc. direct program support as all members serve as unpaid volunteers|
Founded in 1901 in New York City by Barnard College debutante Mary Harriman Rumsey, the Junior League is an educational women's volunteer organization aimed at improving communities and the social, cultural, and political fabric of civil society.
Members accomplish this by developing civic leadership skills, fundraising, and volunteering on JL committees to support partner community organizations related to foster children, domestic violence, human trafficking, illiteracy, city beautification, and other issues.
The first Junior League was founded in 1901 in New York City as the Junior League for the Promotion of the Settlement Movement. It is now known as the New York Junior League (NYJL). Its founder was then 19-year-old Barnard College student and debutante Mary Harriman Rumsey, sister of future Governor of New York W. Averell Harriman and daughter of railroad executive Edward H. Harriman.
Inspired by a lecture on settlement movements that chronicled the works of social reformers such as Lillian Wald and Jane Addams, Harriman Rumsey organized others to become involved in settlement work. The organization's first project was working at the College Settlement on Rivington Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Eleanor Roosevelt was an early member of the NYJL, joining in 1903 when she was 19 years old.
For many years the NYJL's clubhouse was located at 221 East 71st Street in Manhattan. Designed by architect John Russell Pope and opened in 1929, the building contained a swimming pool on the top floor, bedrooms for volunteers, a ballroom, a hairdressing salon, and a shelter for up to 20 abandoned babies. Marymount Manhattan College currently owns the building. In 1950 the NYJL clubhouse moved to the former Vincent Astor townhouse (Astor House) at 130 East 80th Street, where it remains as of 2020.
The New York Junior League was soon emulated: by 1921, thirty Leagues joined to form the national association. In 1921—after serving as New York City's Junior League president from 1907 to 1910—Dorothy Payne Whitney became the first president of the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc., operating as the umbrella organization for all Junior Leagues worldwide.
The League is an all-women organization. In 1996 a man named Clark Clementsen tried to join the League but was denied membership.
"The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. (AJLI) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable."
As of 2019 there are 291 Leagues of 140,000 women in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the UK, including but not limited to:
- Junior League of Montreal—the first League outside of the U.S.
- Junior League of Toronto
- Junior League of Hamilton-Burlington
- Junior League of Boston Inc.
- Junior League of Greater Springfield
- Junior League of Buffalo
- New York Junior League—the first league
- Junior League of Akron
- Junior League of Cleveland
- Junior League of Cincinnati
- Junior League of Columbus
- Junior League of Dayton
- Junior League of Toledo
- Junior League of Eau Claire
- Junior League of Madison
- Junior League of Milwaukee
- Junior League of Racine
- Junior League of London
Prospects must attend orientation at their chapter's clubhouse before applying for membership. The application requires biographical data, two short essay questions, two recommendation letters (in most chapters, with some chapters requiring the letters be written by members), and a $100 application fee (fees vary by league).
Once admitted, candidates must register for the ~$150 provisional course where they are trained on the organization's history and professional volunteerism over four clubhouse meetings, an off-site group trivia session (JL 101), a group community project (oftentimes PIP aka "Playground Improvement Project"), a volunteer credit shift, a personal development session (VET aka "Volunteer Education Training"), a committee overview event (placement previews), and optional social events with their group of 15-20 women out of 150 total new class members each fall and spring semester. Those who don't complete graduation requirements by the end of the semester must start over the next semester (fees vary by league).
Following graduation from provisional course training, members pay annual dues of approximately $525+ to become Active members and participate in the annual placement process to serve on a committee for the next academic year under the following areas as unpaid volunteers:
- Communities (volunteering with partner community organizations)
- Fundraising (event planning)
- Membership Development
- Communications (marketing and PR)
They're required to attend at least 75% or more of committee meetings and one personal development session (included in membership) each year. Fundraising events are optional for members not on the fundraising committee, with discounted tickets available to members (fees vary by league). They can renew their committee placement annually with some restrictions, change committees, and/or run for committee, council, board, and/or organization leadership. Those who don't complete their annual membership requirements have their membership revoked.
Sustainer and Sustainer EmeritusEdit
Requirements for Active and Sustainer status vary by League, but after 20 years of membership or reaching a certain age, members achieve Sustainer status, followed by an option of Sustainer Emeritus status for members aged 80 years or older.
Fundraisers and advocacyEdit
The Junior League has a full calendar year of members-only, family-friendly, and public events at their clubhouses and local venues such as hotels. Notable JL events raising money for partner community organizations related to foster children, domestic violence, human trafficking, illiteracy, city beautification, and other issues include, but are not limited to:
- Annual Winter Ball—the Junior League's largest fundraiser since 1952, where League awards are given to honor outstanding members and a public figure, such as Mary J. Blige (2011). Non-member dinner tickets start at $500+.
- Annual Thanksgiving Eve Ball—introducing debutantes to society at The Plaza and Waldorf-Astoria since 1948
- Savor the Spring Restaurant Week
- Spring House Tour
- Team JL at the New York City Marathon
The New York Junior League also has a thrift shop whose proceeds go to the community organizations.
Other JL initiatives include its contributions to the passage of the Clean Water Act, free school lunch campaign, “Don’t Wait to Vaccinate” campaign, and The Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen initiative, which combats childhood obesity and educates families on health and nutrition.
Notable League members and alumsEdit
As of 2020, five First Ladies of the U.S. have been Junior League members.
- Ann Bedsole—first female Alabama State Senator (1983–1995)
- Margot Birmingham—wife of 1992 / 1996 Presidential Candidate and businessman, Ross Perot
- Florence Bird—Canadian Senator appointed by Pierre Trudeau, broadcaster, and journalist
- Pam Bondi—Attorney General of Florida
- Barbara Bush—41st First Lady during George H.W. Bush administration
- Laura Bush—43rd First Lady during George W. Bush administration
- Pat Evans—three-term Mayor of Plano, Texas (2002-2009)
- Betty Ford—38th First Lady during Gerald Ford administration
- Judith Giuliani (née Nathan)—wife of 107th Mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani
- Margaret Hance—first female Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona
- Glenda Hood—first female Mayor of Orlando, Florida (1992–2003)
- Margaret McTavish Konantz—Canadian Parliament, first woman elected to Canadian House of Commons from Manitoba
- Mary Pillsbury Lord—UN Delegate
- Stephanie Malone—Arkansas House of Representatives member (2009–present)
- Carolyn Maloney—U.S. Congresswoman from New York (2013–present)
- Doris Matsui—U.S. Congresswoman from California (2005–present)
- Geanie Morrison—Texas House of Representatives member (1999–present)
- Willie Landry Mount—Louisiana State Senator (2000-2012), first female Mayor of Lake Charles, Louisiana
- Sandra Day O'Connor—Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1981-2006) appointed by Ronald Reagan
- Diane Patrick—Texas House of Representatives member
- Nancy Reagan—40th First Lady during Ronald Reagan administration
- Eleanor Roosevelt—32nd First Lady during Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, United Nations Delegate
- Margaret Chase Smith—first female U.S. Senator and first to serve in both houses
- Bobbie Sparrow—Canadian politician, House of Commons
- Carole Keeton Strayhorn—first female Mayor of Austin, Texas (1977–1983)
- Martha Rivers Ingram—chairman of Ingram Industries after the death of her husband, E. Bronson Ingram II, and philanthropist
Entertainment, media, literature, and fashion
- Julia Child—TV chef and author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking
- Ruth Draper—actress
- Margaret Hamilton—actress, best known for her portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz
- Katharine Hepburn—actress
- Ethma Odum—pioneer woman television personality in Alexandria, Louisiana
- Suzanne Perron—fashion designer
- Eudora Welty—Pulitzer Prize winning author
- Shirley Temple—actress, UN Delegate, US Ambassador
Military and government
- Jeannie Deakyne—Army Officer and Bronze Star Medal recipient
- Cornelia Fort—first female pilot in American history to die on active duty
- Oveta Culp Hobby—first secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, first commanding officer of the Women's Army Corps
- Deborah Taylor Tate—FCC Commissioner
Nonprofit and philanthropy
- Mary Harriman—founder of the Junior League, sister of 48th Governor of New York, W. Averell Harriman
- Dorothy Payne Whitney—Whitney family member, philanthropist, NYJL President, and first AJLI President
- Helenka Adamowska Pantaleoni—U.S. Fund for UNICEF Co-founder and President (1953-1978)
In popular cultureEdit
- The Official Preppy Handbook—1980 tongue-in-cheek reference guide book featuring the Junior League
- The Help (2009) book and The Help (2011 film)—stars Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard in the Junior League of Jackson
- The Devil in the Junior League —2006 fiction novel written by a former Junior Leaguer originally set to star Jennifer Garner in the film version
- "AJLI FY 2018-2019 Financial Statement" (PDF). AJLI. 2019.
- Mitchell, Donn (2008). "Debutantes of the World: Unite! The Irrespressible Mary Harriman". The Anglican Examiner Presents The New York Anglicans: Twenty Who Shaped the Twentieth Century. The Anglican Examiner. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
- "The New York Junior League Throughout the Years". The New York Junior League. 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
- Gray, Christopher (5 December 1999). "Streetscapes/Readers' Questions; Junior League, Garden Co-op and Pumpkin House". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
- Prodis, Julia (January 28, 1996). "Man Battles Junior League Over Policy of Admitting Only Women". Los Angeles Times.
- 2016, 2009. "The Association of Junior Leagues International Civic Leadership Development for Women". www.ajli.org. Retrieved 2016-06-20.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
- "New York Junior League's 59th Annual Winter Ball". Hamptons.com. February 21, 2011. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- Maggie Maloney (March 8, 2018). "Inside the New York Junior League's 66th Annual Winter Ball". Town & Country. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- "Inside The New York Junior League's 63rd Annual Winter Ball". Guest of a Guest. March 2, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- Stephanie Cohen (December 26, 2010). "Glove affair". New York Post. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- "What's a Deb to Do in Hard Times? Go to the Ball?". New York Times. December 16, 1990. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- "Junior League Will Introduce. 62 Debutantes". New York Times. September 29, 1964. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- "Junior League Debutante Ball Held at the Plaza; Thanksgiving Week Parties Begin With Gala Benefit". New York Times. November 26, 1959. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- Mollie Chen (May 2, 2002). "Welcome to the Ball". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- "New York Junior League Events". New York Junior League. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- "AJLI: WHAT WE DO". AJLI. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- "Ethma Ewing Odum, March 22, 2009". Alexandria Town Talk. Archived from the original on June 2, 2014. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
- Mia Geiger (October 12, 2006). "Ex-Junior Leaguer knows her characters". Denver Post. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- Jeannie Kever (September 10, 2006). "Texas writer takes on the Junior League". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- "Jennifer Garner Is the Devil in the Junior League". Movie Web. February 13, 2007. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- Association of Junior Leagues International
- New York Junior League
- Canadian Federation of Junior Leagues
- Junior League of London
- Junior League of the City of New York Survey of Significant Interiors, 1984-1985. Held by the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.