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COLLECTION Identifier: 79-M9--94-M87

Records of the Junior League of Boston, 1897-1994


Reports, minutes, correspondence, publications, etc., of the Junior League of Boston, a women's voluntary service organization.


  • Creation: 1897-1994

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by 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. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


39 linear feet ((39 cartons) plus 18 folio volumes, 1 folio+ folder, 62 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph album, 46 audiotapes, 11 videotapes, 1 motion picture, 2 phonograph records, and electronic records)

This collection consists of reports, minutes, correspondence, publications, and audiovisual material documenting the activity of the Junior League of Boston. It is divided into the following seven series:

Series I (#1-32, E.1), History and Organization, includes accounts of the founding of the Sewing Circle League, its minutes and reports, and talks presented to the League 1907-1916; documents on the formation of the Junior League of Boston in 1916, the Junior League of Boston constitution and bylaws, and anniversary histories. Junior League of Boston's web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection service (WAX); searchable archived versions of the web site will be available through this finding aid in 2010.

Series II (#33-286), Administrative records, comprises annual reports, minutes, and agendas of the Board of Managers, Administrative Council, and Executive and Membership committees, arranged chronologically with occasional annotations by Junior League of Boston presidents; also correspondence and subject files of presidents and other officers.

Series III (#287-581v), Committee records. Reports and minutes of standing committees are arranged chronologically, 1953-1974, and after 1974 by name of committee. There are also files of research material on community projects.

Series IV (#582-898), Community projects. Reports, minutes, clippings, conferences, correspondence, programs, and press releases are arranged by project title.

Series V (#899-1022), Publications, includes scrapbooks of mailings and publications assembled by the Executive Office, 1923-1958; also manuals, publicity releases, press kits, and clippings, 1965-1994; and Junior League of Boston publications: Bulletin, Junior League of Boston Magazine, Happenings, Community Newsletter.

Series VI (#1023-1194), Association of Junior Leagues, Inc., contains correspondence, 1930-1987; annual surveys of Junior League of Boston activity; minutes and reports of the Association of Junior Leagues International Board, of the various Association of Junior Leagues International subgroups such as Presidents of Larger Leagues (Presidents of Larger Leagues), and the Council of Area I; and programs of annual conferences, 1954-1989. There are also scattered copies of the Association of Junior Leagues International's Bulletin, and publications of other Leagues.

Series VII (#1195-1293ph), Audiovisual records: photographs, color slides, audiotapes, videotapes, motion pictures, and phonograph records documenting programs and sponsored projects.


The Junior League of Boston is a voluntary organization of women engaged in service to the community. It grew out of the Sewing Circle League, formed in 1907. Sewing circles were clubs for debutantes organized since 1867 to sew for the poor. The Sewing Circle League was renamed the Junior League of Boston and affiliated with the Association of Junior Leagues of America in 1916. The second oldest Junior League in the country, it was incorporated in 1922.

The membership is divided into four parts: provisionals, who are in-training, perform voluntary service but may not vote or hold office; active members (up to age 40), who hold office, vote and perform voluntary service; sustaining members, who have retired from active membership but continue to support the league financially; and honorary members. Transfers from other leagues and inter-leagues (temporary members) are allowed.

The Junior League of Boston has always looked for new forms of social and civic activism. Beginning in 1907 with a play committee to put on entertainments in settlement houses and a lecture series for self-education, it has developed a constantly changing menu of community programs: war-related activity in 1917-1918 and 1942-1945, fundraising (Bargain Box and Decorators' Show House) to help pay for its community outreach projects, and an array of programs relating to health, children, education, the arts, the elderly, and women's issues. Its strategy is to identify a social or civic problem, create a program to address it, run it for a period of years, and then hand it on to another group. In this way the Junior League of Boston has made substantial contributions to the improvement of city and suburban life, channeled the interests and creative energy of many women into socially useful work, trained them in administration, and fostered their interest in the conditions of Boston and its suburbs.

The Junior League of Boston continues to be a member of the Association of Junior Leagues, Inc., whose purpose is to unite and advise member Leagues and provide conferences and workshops. The Junior League of Boston is administered by a president and Board of Managers, who oversee standing committees that in turn organize community projects. The Junior League of Boston employs an executive secretary and several assistants in its current headquarters at 117 Newbury Street. Since 1950, it has had associated suburban areas: Dedham-Dover-Milton, South Shore, North Shore, Wellesley, Belmont, and Concord, and from the 1960s a "Professional Area" committee composed of career women.

Highlights in the history of the Junior League of Boston:
  1. 1907: Sewing Circle League formed
  2. 1916: Renamed Junior League of Boston and affiliated with the Association of Junior Leagues of America (later Association of Junior Leagues, Inc.)
  3. 1917: Office located in American Red Cross building at 142 Berkeley Street; members worked for the Volunteer Service of the Bureau of Red Cross
  4. 1920: Play, Legislative and Redstocking Community Christmas committees formed; moved to 20 Newbury Street
  5. 1921: Provisional membership and training courses established. Moved to 240 Boylston Street
  6. 1922: Incorporation of Junior League of Boston
  7. 1923: Debate with Junior League of New York, on resolution "that the Puritan influence has been detrimental to the development of this country," caused public outcry
  8. 1924: Moved to 37 and then to 6 Commonwealth Avenue
  9. 1925: Social Services Committee formed, with professional worker to lead members
  10. 1929: Glee Club, Garden Club, and Arts and Interests Committee formed
  11. 1930: Purchase of Zero Marlborough St.
  12. 1940: Presidents of Larger Leagues (POLL) conference met
  13. 1942: Transfers welcomed for first time; Orchestra including women service personnel established; Women's War Bond Drive
  14. 1945: Embankment Garden transferred from Women's Municipal League
  15. 1946: Support for Boston Eye Bank, Junior League of Boston's first health-related program
  16. 1949: Bargain Box opened on Newbury Street
  17. 1950: Six suburban areas formed under umbrella of Junior League of Boston
  18. 1954: Sale of Zero Marlborough Street; Junior League of Boston moved to Harvard Club (380 Commonwealth Avenue)
  19. 1958: Sponsored Metropolitan Opera's New England Regional Auditions
  20. 1960-1961: Produced two films about the mentally handicapped: "The Innocents" and "The Disquieted"
  21. 1966: Wilder Street summer enrichment program in Roxbury – Reading is Fundamental, in Waltham and Charlestown
  22. 1967: Commissioned children's opera, "The Fisherman's Wife," in celebration of 50th anniversary
  23. 1968: Community Research Committee (CRC) established to educate Junior League of Boston about community opportunities, identify projects, and communicate with local organizations
  24. 1970: Public Affairs Committee formed
  25. 1971: First Decorators' Show House
  26. 1972: Gilday Center for abused children opened
  27. 1973: Community Research Committee divided into two groups 1) "professionals" for career women and 2) "day" for non-career women
  28. 1977: Public Relations Committee formed
  29. 1978: Pet Therapy and Companionship project for the elderly began
  30. 1979: Women's Information and Referral Education (WIRE) service van launched to provide information about services and resources available to women; Position statement advocating optimal opportunities and services for children ushered in a new focus on children; Association of Junior Leagues International endorses ERA
  31. 1981: New focus on women
  32. 1982: Focus on the Arts
  33. 1983: Good Grief program to help children cope with death and dying
  34. 1985: Child Awareness Training re: sexual abuse
  35. 1992: Handgun violence prevention committee

Junior League of Boston consultants provided technical assistance to non-profit organizations.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 79-M9, 86-M91, 86-M106, 86-M201, 87-M198, 89-M165, 91-M48, 91-M52, 91-M83, 94-M86, 94-M87

The records of the Junior League of Boston were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Junior League of Boston between February 1979 and July 1994.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Additional records of the Junior League of Boston, ca.1907-2010 (MC 787).


  1. Carton 1: Folders 1-45
  2. Carton 2: Folders 46-82
  3. Carton 3: Folders 83-113
  4. Carton 4: Folders 114-149
  5. Carton 5: Folders 150-182
  6. Carton 6: Folders 183-219
  7. Carton 7: Folders 220-264
  8. Carton 8: Folders 265-305
  9. Carton 9: Folders 306-336
  10. Carton 10: Folders 337-381
  11. Carton 11: Folders 382-424
  12. Carton 12: Folders 425-468
  13. Carton 13: Folders 469-512
  14. Carton 14: Folders 513-547
  15. Carton 15: Folders 548-560, 582-584
  16. Carton 16: Folders 585-627
  17. Carton 17: Folders 628-646, 649-668
  18. Carton 18: Folders 669-698
  19. Carton 19: Folders 699v-726, 728-741
  20. Carton 20: Folders 742, 744-764, 766-777
  21. Carton 21: Folders 778-822
  22. Carton 22: Folders 823-857
  23. Carton 23: Folders 858-900v
  24. Carton 24: Folders 581v, 647v, 648v, 765v, 901v, 904v, 907v
  25. Carton 25: Folders 913v-916v
  26. Carton 26: Folders 917v-920v
  27. Carton 27: Folders 921v-925v
  28. Carton 28: Folders 926-950
  29. Carton 29: Folders 951v-956v
  30. Carton 30: Folders 957v-963v
  31. Carton 31: Folders 964-970, 973-975, 977, 979, 981-995
  32. Carton 32: Folders 996-998, 1000-1008, 1010-1022v
  33. Carton 33: Folders 1023-1043
  34. Carton 34: Folders 1044-1073
  35. Carton 35: Folders 1074-1106
  36. Carton 36: Folders 1107-1125v
  37. Carton 37: Folders 1126-1142v
  38. Carton 38: Folders 1143v-1164
  39. Carton 39: Folders 1165-1194, 1227-1229, 1283


  1. Cabot, Ella Lyman, 3
  2. Caldwell, Sarah, 1213
  3. Griswold, Harriet, 750
  4. Kennedy, Edward Moore, 756
  5. Lawrence, Sarah, 3
  6. O'Connor, Sandra Day, 162
  7. Schuller, Gunther, 688
  8. Sherrill, Bishop Henry Knox, 1321ph
  9. Snowden, Muriel and Otto, 1226
  10. Thorndike, Alice, 3
  11. Tiernan, Kip, 274
  12. Updike, John, 682, 1213

Processing Information

Processed: May 1996

By: Januarye S. Knowles

Junior League of Boston. Records of the Junior League of Boston, 1897-1994: 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

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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