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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 787: T-499: Vt-269: DVD-116

Additional records of the Junior League of Boston, ca.1907-2010


Articles of incorporation, by-laws, minutes, membership records, photographs, audiovisual material, etc. of the Junior League of Boston, an educational and charitable organization.


  • Creation: 1907-2010

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. The majority of the collection is open to research. Folders #36.1-164.3 and 165.CB-181.CB are closed for 25 years from the date of creation. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by the Junior League of Boston is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


95.37 linear feet ((196 file boxes, 3 half file boxes, 17 card file boxes, 2 folio boxes, 2 folio+ boxes) plus 2 folio folders, 2 folio+ folders, 2 oversize folders, 22 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 1 audiotape, 15 videotapes, 3 DVDs, electronic records, and 1 object.)

The records of the Junior League of Boston document its organizational structure, history of voluntarism, and beneficial impact on communities in the Boston metro area. The collection contains administrative policies and procedures; articles of incorporation and by-laws; awards; annual reports; and minutes representing the board of managers, executive committee, and advisory council that provide insight into the history, development and impact of their voluntarism. The collection also includes substantial committee records, which are filed with the functions they guided in Series I, II, IV and V. Additional committee minutes, educational training materials, membership records and clippings, received in binders, have been disassembled and foldered to facilitate access. Published material by and about the League; photographs; memorabilia; and audiovisual recordings are also included. Newsletters have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library Published Materials Division. League records were received in labeled folders, which the archivist modified to avoid duplication and to consolidate related material. The archivist also provided the arrangement and interfiled loose material. Additional material received as electronic files will be reformatted at some future date. The web site of the Junior League of Boston's is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection (WAX).

Series I, ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION, 1914-2010, n.d. (scattered) (#1.1-22.6, FD.1-FD.2, F+D.1-F+D.2, OD.1, E.1), includes articles of incorporation and by-laws; administrative policies and procedures; annual reports; and minutes related to the Women's Coalition, an umbrella organization that includes the League and affiliated women's organizations. There is some overlap in the minutes of the Board of Managers, Advisory Council, and Executive Committee. Minutes of the Public Affairs Committee, the League's legislative liaison and advocacy group, the Public Relations Committee, responsible for the League's print material and marketing strategies, and the Ways and Means Committee, responsible for fundraising activities, are also included. Although conference materials are scattered and incomplete, transcripts from national conferences held in 1914 and 1916 detail the League's history and development, governing structure, and goals (#11.6-11.7). Additional organizational histories in the form of first-hand accounts are also included (#22.4-22.5). Conference material, yearbooks, by-laws, and standing rules of the Association of Junior Leagues, Inc. and the Association of Junior Leagues International, provide insight into the League's governance. Also included are numerous awards, certifications, and citations; invitations and program flyers related to special events and fundraising activities; and president's reports. The series is arranged alphabetically and chronologically thereunder. Folder titles were created by the processor.

Series II, PROGRAMS, 1953-2007, n.d. (scattered) (#22.7-35.2, 217FB), includes brochures and fact sheets; computer data logs; financial records; member handbooks and directories, which were disassembled and refoldered; minutes of the admissions, placement, and provisional training committees; and applications, correspondence, evaluations, and member satisfaction surveys. This series also includes an Organizational Self-Assessment Program, jointly administered by the Association of the Junior League and the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health between 1978-1994, to determine members' motivation, attitudes, and orientation toward change and diversity (#26.7-27.4). A substantial amount of material relates to training programs, including applications, correspondence, educational hand-outs, and training manuals (disassembled). Training programs include Leadership Development (#30.6-34.1) to identify and facilitate growth in leadership skills among League members; Train the Trainer (#34.6-34.8), which provided League trainers with additional teaching skills; and Volunteers for Boston Children (#35.1), a program that enabled volunteers to work in the Boston metro area schools. Also included is material related to specialized seminars and workshops organized for League members, personnel from community agencies, and the public at large. A scrapbook of member activities in the South Shore area (#217FB), questionnaires, and surveys representing the experience of agencies, clients, and volunteers associated with community service projects, is also included. The series is arranged alphabetically and chronologically thereunder. Folder titles were created by the processor.

Series III, MEMBERSHIP RECORDS, 1910-2009, (scattered) (#36.1-164.3, 165CB-181CB), includes applications, correspondence, admission, and enrollment forms; member profiles and placement forms; annual interviews, contracts, test booklets, and school transcripts. Membership records are restricted for 25 years from the date of creation. The series is arranged alphabetically. Folder titles were created by the processor.

Series IV. COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECTS, ca.1960-2008, n.d. (scattered) (#182.1-210.11, 218FB, 219F+B - 220F+B), includes brochures, correspondence, financial records, and project proposals submitted by social agencies and volunteers; minutes, mid-year project reviews, evaluations forms and reports. Also included are policies and procedures for chairs of the Community Initiatives Steering Committee, Community Research Committee, and Community Program Office, which established goals and objectives, completed background research on potential applicants, and determined the success or failure of project objectives. There are also minutes, memoranda, and reports of committees with oversight of specific focus areas, including the Family Enrichment Oversight Committee (#186.1-186.5), which operated the Read Out Loud and Maternity Mentors Programs at Boston City Hospital; the Women's Lunch Place Committee (#187.2-187.7), which organized fundraisers and other events for homeless women; and the Adolescent Girls Initiative (#195.7-196.3), which included a conference and report The Positive Development of Adolescent Girls: A Two Year Project Evaluation (#196.2-196.3). Scrapbooks representing the Embankment Garden (#218FB), the Sunshine Singers (#219F+B), volunteers that performed in hospitals, schools, and other institutions , and the Women's Informational, Referral and Education Service (#220F+B), a mobile van that provided women with brochures, pamphlets, and referrals to health and social service matters, are also included. The series is arranged alphabetically and chronologically thereunder. Folder titles were created by the processor.

Series V. PUBLICATIONS AND PUBLICITY, 1924-2006 (#211.1-216.3), includes articles written by and about the League; minutes of planning committees and draft manuscripts related to the Adolescent Resource Book; and correspondence, test recipes, and evaluations related to the League's cookbooks, entitled Presenting Boston....A Cookbook, Boston Uncommon, and More than A Tea Party. The series also includes an extensive range of clippings compiled for the League by clipping bureaus. The clippings, which range in date from the 1920s through the 1990s, document community service projects, fundraising activities, and profiles and the accomplishments of its members. To facilitate access, most of the clippings were removed from binders. Loose clippings were organized in a catch all folder. This series also includes The Decorators' Show House, published in magazine and journal format; area newsletters representing League activities outside of Boston; correspondence, memoranda, draft submissions, and guidelines for Happenings and the Community Newsletter; and several League pamphlets including A Guide to Boston (1945), (#215.10) written for service men after World War II, Encouraging Young Audiences (n.d.) (#215.10), and A Guide to Boston for the Handicapped (1950) (#215.10). The series is arranged alphabetically and chronologically thereunder. Folder titles were created by the processor.

Series VI. PHOTOGRAPHS AND MEMORABILIA, ca.1907-2001, n.d. (#216.4m-216.5m, PD.1-PD.22, OD.2m, Mem.1), contains photographs of League members, community service projects, and fundraising activities. Included are images of founding president Sara Lawrence Slattery; the board of directors; the Children's Theater and Junior League of Boston Glee Club (ca.1930s); the Arnold Arboretum field study project; and the Family Enrichment Project at Boston City Hospital, which included the Reach Out and Read and Maternity Mentors programs. This series also includes a Junior League coffee cup, a Boston tradition scarf, and a plastic shopping bag used for fundraising. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available on-line. The series is arranged chronologically with photographs appearing first. Folder titles were created by the processor.

Series VII. AUDIOVISUAL, 1957-2004, n.d. (T-499.1, Vt-269.1 - Vt-269.15, DVD.116.1 - DVD.116.3), contains audio and videotape recordings of educational seminars, conferences, and community service programs. The League also produced a number of public service announcements and participated in local news programs in order to publicize its community service programs, which included support for grieving children through the Good Grief Program, Pet Companionship, which provided pets to aid and comfort the elderly, Pediatric AIDS Explained, and the Families in Transition program at Boston City Hospital, which included Maternity Mentors for young mothers and Boston Reads for young children. Several recordings of conferences highlight the League's interest and sustained efforts to promote leadership development among adolescent girls, including the Harvard/Outward Bound Project: Rethinking Girls' Leadership With Girls. Also included are several DVDs related to the League's anniversary and other events. Highlights include The Disquieted, a film produced by the League that focused on the plight of developmentally challenged children. The series is arranged by format with items arranged chronologically thereunder. Folder titles were created by the processor.

Historical Note

The Junior League of Boston was formed to promote voluntarism, provide education and training for women, and to improve communities in the Boston metro area. It began as a sewing circle, a popular 19th century tradition, which was largely developed by women for charitable purposes. In addition to making clothing, household linen and bandages during the Civil War, sewing circles also provided a sense of community and what was deemed a suitable use of time for upper class women. In 1907 Sarah Lawrence Slattery, a former debutante and the League's first president, combined sewing circles of 1905, 1906, and 1907 to form the Sewing Circle League. Adopting the approach of the New York City League, founded in 1901, members of the Sewing Circle League chose voluntary service as a means of helping the poor and contributing to a broader platform of social reform.

Initially, volunteer work was limited to hospitals, raising funds for holiday gifts, or entertaining children. By 1912, approximately 160 volunteers were engaged in volunteer work in more than 50 organizations, including the Boston Dispensary, Children's Hospital, and the Women's Municipal League. Over the next two years, as enrollment climbed to 523 members, the League began organizing their work through four committees: general work, settlement, entertainment, and literature. Voluntary service became more diverse and included teaching at various Boston settlement houses and working for Associated Charities. Long-term League members, known as associates, helped new recruits learn business, financial, administrative, and personnel skills. In addition to performing dramatic plays and musical skits, League officials organized a highly popular lecture series for its members and the public, which featured such notable speakers as Jane Addams of Hull House, Charles W. Eliot of Harvard University, Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee University, and President William Howard Taft. A literary committee assisted members, who were unable to attend meetings and events on a regular basis, by meeting twice a year to read and discuss topics related to social and industrial problems. In 1916, the Sewing Circle League became an affiliate member of the Association of Junior Leagues of America and by formal vote adopted the name the Junior League of Boston, making it the second oldest League in the U.S.

The 1920s was a period of rapid growth and development in Boston. In response, the League augmented its role in community service projects by developing project initiatives to meet specific needs. If the project proved to be successful, they were turned over to the communities they served. An early example was the Red Stocking Project, initiated by the League's Red Stocking Community Christmas Committee in 1921. League volunteers collected funds to provide gifts for the needy at Christmas. This project became part of the Red Feather organization and subsequently the United Way. After its incorporation in 1922, the League initially opened an office in the American Red Cross building on Berkeley Street in Boston. Over the next two decades, they moved several times to accommodate a growing membership, occupying offices on Commonwealth Avenue and Boylston Street.

From the 1930s through World War II, the League increased its charitable donations and expanded its educational opportunities. During the Great Depression, the League helped to raise money that augmented relief funds and unemployment assistance in Boston. After League headquarters were moved to Marlborough Street, education, provisional, and placement committees were formed to create formal course work for new members, evaluate their initial work performance, and find suitable long term opportunities that served their interests. Members also trained with social workers and other professionals to play a more active role in community-based organizations. Although membership declined during WWII, the League still found ways to assist the war effort. Some members formed a popular orchestra that performed for enlisted men at various sites. Others assisted the Red Cross, participated in the Women's War Bond Drive and Civilian Defense Programs, or created U.S.O. scrapbooks. In the aftermath of the war, League members continued such efforts, creating relief kits for the Russian War Relief Program in 1943, and publishing A Guide to Boston for returning war veterans in 1945.

During the post-war boom, the League found new ways to engage in social and civic causes through several long-term projects. The League used its volunteer force and financial resources to assist the Boston Eye Bank (1946-1959), a specialized clinic established in the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital. Maintenance of the Embankment Garden (1948-1974), initially established by the Women's Municipal League on Embankment Road on Beacon Hill, was later transferred to the Junior League of Boston and occupied various sites before moving to Paul Gore Street in Jamaica Plain. League volunteers used the garden to teach valuable lessons about planting and harvesting vegetables and flowers, and teamwork. In 1950, the League moved to its permanent headquarters at 117 Newbury Street and shortly thereafter began to address the plight of handicapped and developmentally-challenged individuals. When volunteers were trained to work with the staff of the Rehabilitation Institute at the Boston Dispensary (1954-1960), physical therapy was still considered a "new science." Once it was proven to be helpful for soldiers injured during World War II, as well as for victims of the polio epidemic, the hospital launched an expansion campaign. In addition to volunteer assistance, the League contributed funding for a Hubbard Tank for use in polio rehabilitation, and over $65,000 for general use. Heightened awareness of the limitations caused by disabilities influenced the League to launch related project initiatives. The Guide to Boston for the Handicapped, published in 1950, required volunteers to take physical measurements of various sites in Boston to assess handicap accessibility. Eventually, more than 20,000 copies were distributed to hospitals, libraries, and rehabilitation programs, and served as a model for other cities. In later years, the League collaborated with Kids on the Block, a children's show featuring puppets with handicaps. Other project initiatives in this period included several highly acclaimed films on mental illness: The Innocents, The Exceptional Child, and The Disquieted.

From the 1960s through the 1990s, the League addressed the pressing needs of inner-city youth, families in transition, the changing role of women, and problems of adolescent girls. In 1966, the League organized the Wilder Street Project, a tutoring and summer enrichment program in North Dorchester, Massachusetts, staffed by students from Harvard University and Radcliffe College. League members also operated a highly successful child abuse center for the Boston Welfare Department, and several community activity centers were formed. Emphasis on the changing needs of women was addressed in 1976 when League volunteers launched the Women's Informational, Referral and Education Service. The use of a mobile information van enabled volunteers to facilitate greater interaction between social service agencies or charitable organizations and women who needed their services, but were unaware of how or where to obtain then. Such services provided housing, education, financial, employment, food, and immigration assistance. By the 1990s, the League had developed or funded 30 community service projects related to domestic violence, assisting the elderly, and homelessness. The League also co-sponsored Good Grief, a program that helped young children cope with death and loss. With a renewed goal of maximizing its impact on the community, the League developed the concept of targeting specific "focus areas." One of the most critical focus areas has involved the challenges faced by adolescent girls. In 1997, the League implemented several new collaborative programs that included Boston City Hospital where volunteers helped organize the Maternity Mentors program for teen mothers. In partnership with the Coalition of 100 Black Women, special workshops were organized at Mellon Academy to promote leadership and life skills training. In partnership with the University of Massachusetts (Boston), the League also developed annual career seminars to provide high school girls with experiential learning opportunities in science, medicine, and government.

Throughout its history, the League has adapted to meet the changing needs of various communities by providing financial support through such enterprises as the annual Decorator's Show House and other fundraising events, an annual reassessment of its governing structure, which has strengthened and expanded its workforce, and greater emphasis on recruitment strategies, resulting in a more democratic and inclusive membership. The League is currently open to any woman between the ages of 18 and 40 residing in the Boston metro area who can volunteer for an agreed-upon set of hours. Currently an affiliate of the Association of Junior Leagues International (formerly the Association of Junior Leagues), the League is one of 294 chapters representing more than 200,000 members in the United States, England, Canada, and Mexico, committed to social change.


The collection is arranged in seven series:

  1. Series I. Organization and administration, 1914-2010, n.d. (scattered) (#1.1-22.6, FD.1-FD.2, F+D.1-F+D.2, OD.1, E.1)
  2. Series II. Programs, 1953-2007, n.d. (scattered) (#22.7-35.2, 217FB)
  3. Series III. Membership records, 1910-2009 (scattered) (#36.1-164.3, 165CB-181CB)
  4. Series IV. Community service projects, ca.1960-2008, n.d. (scattered) (#182.1-210.11, 218FB, 219F+B - 220F+B)
  5. Series V. Publications and publicity, 1924-2006, n.d. (#211.1-216.3)
  6. Series VI. Photographs and memorabilia, ca.1907-2001 (#216.4m-216.5m, #PD.1-PD.22, OD.2m, Mem.1)
  7. Series VII. Audiovisual, 1957-2004, n.d. (#T-499.1, Vt-269.1 - Vt-269.15, DVD.116.1 - DVD.116.3)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 99-M21, 99-M75, 2000-M90, 2000-M164, 2006-M166, 2011-M110

These additional records of the Junior League of Boston were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Junior League of Boston between 1999 and 2011.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see the Records of the Junior League of Boston, 1897-1994 (79-M9--94-M87).


Donors: Junior League of Boston

Accession numbers: 99-M21, 99-M75, 2000-M90, 2000-M164, 2000-M166, 2011-M110

Processed by: Emilyn L. Brown

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library Book and Printed Materials Division (pending review by curator):

  1. Community Newsletter
  2. Happenings
  3. Junior League News Bulletin
  4. League Connections
  5. League Happenings
  6. Junior League of Boston Handbook and Annual Report

Processing Information

Processed: July 2015

By: Emilyn Brown, with assistance from Dan Bullman.

Junior League of Boston. Additional records of the Junior League of Boston, ca.1907-2010: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

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