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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, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: 79-M9--94-M87
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Junior League of Boston
Title: Records of the Junior League of Boston, 1897-1994
Date(s): 1897-1994
Quantity: 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)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Reports, minutes, correspondence, publications, etc., of the Junior League of Boston, a women's voluntary service organization.

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.

Processing Information:

Processed: May 1996
By: Januarye S. Knowles

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.

Preferred Citation:

Junior League of Boston Records, 1897-1994; item description, dates. 79-M9--94-M87, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

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


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:

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


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.



Container List

Additional Index Terms

Annual reports
Beacon Hill (Boston, Mass.)--Buildings, structures, etc.
Boston (Mass.)--Social life and customs--20th century
Boston (Mass.)--Societies and clubs
Children's plays
Color slides
Electronic records
Gardening--Societies, etc.
Interior decoration--Massachusetts--Boston
Motion pictures
Opera--United States
People with mental disabilities--United States
Phonograph records
Press releases
Sound recordings
Theater and youth--United States
Voluntarism--United States
Web sites
Wellesley (Mass.)--Societies and clubs
Women--Societies and clubs
Women volunteers in social service--Massachusetts
Association of Junior Leagues.
Cabot, Ella Lyman
Family Welfare Society of Boston
Griswold, Harriet, 1904-1999
Kennedy, Edward M. (Edward Moore), 1932-2009
Lawrence, Sarah
O'Connor, Sandra Day
Schuller, Gunther
Sewing Circle League
Snowden, Muriel S. (Muriel Sutherland), 1916-1988
Tiernan, Kip
Updike, John