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The Junior League: Microcosm of Women’s History

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Founded in 1901, the Junior League rapidly became the most influential women’s organization in the United States. Today there are also chapters in Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Its mission statement puts volunteering and women front and center:

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.

Local Junior Leagues made many significant contributions to their communities, but also developed an elitist public image of wealth, social standing, and exclusion. The list of famous women who were members of the League is very long. When the feminist movement affected every women’s organization, the Junior League found itself challenged to retain its position while changing with the times.

This Voices from the Past story explores the history of the Junior League and how it evolved in the face of modern life, still keeping its mission rooted in the power of volunteers.