Association of Junior Leagues of America Records,
Scope and Content
The Association of Junior Leagues of America (AJLA) records consist primarily of the national association's files on local member leagues. The files are a representative sampling of AJLA member leagues, chosen by geographical area, size of city, and age of the league, and are not a comprehensive record of all local junior leagues. The records include: correspondence between member leagues and AJLA staff consultants, field visit reports, regional directories, committee reports, articles written for AJLA publications, memorandums, financial statements, annual reports, newspaper clippings, and project files. They document the activities and administration of local leagues from the 1920s to 1970. Prominent topics include children's theater, volunteer services, civic art programs, welfare services in local communities, health and rehabilitation services, and education. The AJLA records also contain an incomplete set of AJLA board minutes and papers dating from the 1940s to 1969; an incomplete microfilm set of AJLA board and staff meeting minutes dating from 1931 to 1964; member leagues' yearbooks dating from the mid-1960s; annual conference program notes and meeting minutes dating from 1956 to 1995; project reports dating from 1981 to 1987; and copies of Junior League Magazine and chapter newsletters dating from 1934 to 1980 and from approximately the 1950s through the 1970s, respectively.
Of prime interest to researchers are the field visit reports, which are available up to 1945. These reports are cumulative in nature and are filed under the date of the last addition to them. Thus, information on an earlier period may be found in a folder of a later date. There are two kinds of field visit reports: summaries of a league city's characteristics and important social welfare agencies and summaries of league program concerns under such topical headings as professional leadership, education, league organization, league leadership, attitude of the league, place of the league in the community, public relations, relation to AJLA, finances, etc. Important information on league projects is also available. Also useful as summaries of league activities are the regional directors' reports, letters of information, letters of recommendation, and Association questionnaires. Because of the ubiquity of these routine records and the field visit reports, they are not usually noted in the folder inventory unless they contain discussion of league projects or particularly detailed information.
- Creation: 1922-2001
- Creation: (bulk 1932-1968)
Language of Materials
Use of Materials
Open for use in Social Welfare History Archives reading room.
Please contact the Archives for copyright information.
The Junior League was formed in New York in 1901 as the Junior League of the Settlement Movement. The league's founders, Mary Harriman and Nathalie Henderson, were motivated by a sense of social responsibility and the idea of trained women volunteers working for community improvement. Harriman and Henderson, with the advice of the prominent settlement leader, Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch, and the cooperation of eighty of their contemporaries, founded the Junior League of the Settlement Movement in 1901. The group offered training and educational courses for members, volunteered in New York City settlements, and raised funds to support their activities. Over the succeeding two decades, Junior Leagues were formed in cities across the United States: in Boston in 1907; in Brooklyn, New York, and Portland, Oregon, in 1910; and in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Chicago in 1912. Six of the seven existing Junior Leagues met in 1912 in New York City for their first conference. In 1921, representatives from thirty member leagues met at the annual Junior League conference in Montreal and called for a national body. The Association of Junior Leagues of America was founded at a special meeting in May of 1921. The association's responsibilities included uniting member leagues, promoting the formation of new leagues, publishing the league newsletter, facilitating the annual conference, and acting as a information clearinghouse. Dorothy Wilson Straight was elected first president of the national association.
The AJLA was governed by a board of directors elected from thirteen regional areas. Bound together by the constitution and bylaws of the national organization, the local leagues were essentially self-directing, and operated with a board of directors and a committee system. The AJLA provided a staff of trained professionals who advised local leagues and served a primarily advisory rather than supervisory function. It also organized annual conferences which were attended by representatives from each league.
By the 1910s, the leagues were shifting their focus away from settlement house work to educational, public health and social issues. Beginning in 1927, AJLA, required each league to offer a "provisional course" to the women invited to league membership. This course, through lectures, discussion, field trips, and individual study, provided information about the community's composition, resources, and needs. The purpose and functions of the AJLA were also studied. Prepared by the provisional course, Junior League members were required to give volunteer service in local health, welfare, cultural, or recreational agencies. Arts programs (in particular, children's theater), juvenile justice, child welfare, and child health campaigns were among the new activities added by leagues between the 1920s and 1970s. The national association established new offices to support member leagues' growing activities including: Civic Welfare, Art and Lecture Exchange, Players Bureau, Arts and Crafts Exchange, and the Shop Bureau.
In 1971, AJLA changed its name to Association of Junior Leagues, Inc. (AJL). During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the national association responded to challenges of its role and the relevance of women's volunteer work by rededicating itself to promoting volunteerism and volunteer training and assuming an expanded role as an advocate of women in volunteer service. It also began a new diversity program in the late 1970s to broaden its membership and undertook a more active role in public affairs advocacy, establishing a public policy office in Washington, D.C. in 1986. During the 1970s and 1980s, the League promoted public policy in the areas of child health, juvenile justice, domestic violence, women's alcohol abuse. In 1988, the League became the Association of Junior League International (AJLI).
Jackson, Nancy Beth.The Junior League: 100 Years of Volunteer Service.Nashville: FRP, 2001.
"The Junior League History: Critical Milestones in the Movement." Association of Junior Leagues International website. July 26. 2007.
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Records of the national office of the Association of Junior Leagues of America (AJLA)consisting of files on local member leagues in cities throughout the country. Prominent topics include children's theater, volunteer services, civic art programs, welfare services in local communities, fund-raising, health and rehabilitation services, education, and the operation of individual leagues. Includes: correspondence, field visit reports, regional directories, reports, articles written for AJLA publications, memoranda, financial statements, annual reports, newspaper clippings, and project files. Also includes: an incomplete set of AJLA board minutes and papers dating from the 1940s to 1969; an incomplete microfilm set of AJLA board and staff meeting minutes dating from 1931 to 1964; member leagues' yearbooks dating from the mid-1960s; annual conference program notes and meeting minutes dating from 1956 to 1995; material from the League's anniversary in 2001; and project reports dating from 1981 to 1987; and copies of Junior League Magazine and chapter newsletters dating from 1934 to 1980 and from approximately the 1950s through the 1970s, respectively.
Arrangement of Records
The Association of Junior Leagues of America records are arranged into 6 series:
- Series 1. Local Chapters
- Series 2. Administrative Records
- Series 3. Member League Yearbooks
- Series 4. Annual Meetings
- Series 5. Project Reports
- Series 6. Publications
Other Finding Aid
Unpublished inventories available. Please contact Archives for more information.
The Association of Junior Leagues of American, Inc. records were given to the Social Welfare History Archives by the AJLA board in 1967. Additional records were received in 1972 and 1999.
Processing and Finding Aid Information
The Association of Junior Leagues of America (AJLA) records were arranged and described as two separate collections as new materials were acquired by the Archives between 1967 and 1990. The initial gift of records, which arrived in 1967, and two additional shipments that arrived in 1970 and 1990 are described in two separate finding aids. A third finding aid was written for the set of microfilm minutes of the AJLA board. Formerly, researchers had to consult three documents in order to obtain complete information on the AJLA records. As part of a project to mount finding aids online, the Archives has merged the information about the AJLA records into one comprehensive finding aid.
When received by the Social Welfare History Archives, the AJLA materials were arranged alphabetically by city and topically within the records of a particular city up to the year 1949. For example, information on welfare, education or community arts was grouped together under each city. From 1949 to 1956, materials were usually arranged in chronological order within the records of each city, though at times papers pertaining to one issue were filed together. For the convenience of the scholar using the collection and to give it continuity, materials throughout the collection have been arranged in chronological order within an alphabetical arrangement of cities,
- Association of Junior Leagues of America Records
- Ellen Mikulak Newcomb and Susan Henderson Shreve; revised by Linnea Anderson
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