The very first Junior League in the United States was founded in 1901 in New York by a 19-year-old named Mary Harriman who was dedicated to using her life of privilege as a platform for social reform.
Eighty young women joined the first year, eager to enrich their own lives by becoming involved in improving social conditions in their city. Just two years later, in 1903, Mary Harriman’s friend, Eleanor Roosevelt, joined the organization. Her involvement in settlement work was her first introduction to public life in New York City. Eleanor Roosevelt was the first of many notable women to join the Junior League.
In 1921 the Leagues joined forces as an association, which is today known as The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., in order to bolster their power and amplify their voice through shared knowledge and common causes.
True to their legacy, today’s League members work at the forefront of social reform, tackling the toughest and most critical issues of the day—including childhood nutrition and obesity, human trafficking, foster care, juvenile justice, teen self-esteem, cybercrimes, literacy and the environment, among others—for the purpose of enhancing the social, cultural and political fabric of civil society.