History

Since 1914, The Junior League of St. Louis (JLSL) has been improving the metropolitan area with long-lasting, innovative projects. Our focus is strengthening our families, with the following areas of concentration:

  • Protecting and empowering our children
  • Women's health and well-being

1910s: JLSL was founded under the guidance of Mrs. Harry January, the "Grandmother of the Junior League." First projects included the Occupational Therapy Project (OTP), hot lunch program for school children and the suffrage movement.  Click here to read more about the Junior League of St. Louis' involvement with the suffrage movement.

1920s: JLSL moved into the first official Clubrooms in the Central West End, sold handmade items from the OTP in the Open Door Shop, published the first TOPICS magazine and produced the first "Follies" fundraiser.

1930s: JLSL welcomed the first professional members, formed the Children's Theatre Group, raised funds with 85 cent lunches in the Clubrooms and created the Service Bureau.

1940s: JLSL actively supported war efforts with 350+ League members active in the Red Cross overseas and at home. The Hospitality Committee extended courtesies to soldiers transferring in and out of St. Louis, and JLSL members sold more than $2 million in war bonds.

1950s: JLSL presented educational luncheons about home, community, Communism, civil defense, education and other timely topics. Members hosted 40 UN delegates and their wives (including Communist Russia) for a glimpse of life in the Midwest.

1960s: JLSL formed the Arts and Education Council for Greater St. Louis and started Junior Kindergarten (forerunner of the nationwide Head Start Program).

1970s: JLSL began to move away from "white glove" reputation and focused energies on "work gloves." Created the Council of Community Organizations.

1980s: More than half of JLSL members were employed outside the home. Community projects included Teen Outreach, Girls Club of Soulard (Girls, Inc. of St. Louis), St. Louis Crisis Nursery and St. Louis Family Theatre Series. Fundraisers included Challenge Cup and Treasure Trunk Sale.

 

1990s: JLSL focused on St. Louis Child Health Initiative, Adopt-A-Student Arts Partners, the Children's Advocacy Center, Edgewood Therapeutic Foster Care, Our Little Haven, Teen Opportunities to Achieve in Life, Back to Sleep, Parenting for Success and the Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure®, which is now one of the largest races in the country.

2000s: Fundraising has included the Holiday and Spring Marts, St. Louis Benefit Polo Match, Junior League of St. Louis Cinnamon Rolls, Saint Louis Days Saint Louis Nights and Meet Us in the Kitchen cookbook sales. Proceeds have supported Glass Slipper, Arty Gras, Little Wishes, V.O.I.C.E.S., Young Women's Summer Leadership Program, League Larks, Nightingales, St. Louis Family Theatre Series, Done-In-A-Day and Kids in the Kitchen.

Click the link to view photos of The Junior League of St. Louis' 95th Anniversary Luncheon

2010s:  Done-In-A-Day continues to provide trained volunteers in response to requests from community agencies.  DIAD offers frequent, flexible, "hands-on" volunteer opportunities that can be completed in one day.

The JLSL choral groups, League Larks and Nightingales, continue to provide live entertainment that offers music therapy stimulation and an audience participation experience to nursing home residents, retirement centers, adult day care and rehabilitation facilities throughout the St. Louis area.  

Members of the State Legislative Issues Committee (SLIC) research public issues, determine JLSL advocacy efforts, and provide advocacy training to JLSL Members.  Annually, JLSL Members organize and attend the A Day at the Capitol event.  Members of SLIC have worked
with legislators to amend current Missouri laws which would assist school districts in achieving a standardized approach to cyberbullying. 

Celebrating its 26th year in the community, the St. Louis Family Theatre Series introduces over 25,000 St. Louis area school children and their families to live theatre annually. 

Kids in the Kitchen (KITK) is a national program established by the Association of Junior Leagues International to empower youth to make healthy lifestyle choices and help reverse the growth of childhood obesity and it associated health issues.  It provides a forum for educational information and demonstrations, such as the preparation of nutritious meals.  It also increases students' awareness of the need for healthy habits.  This is currently a New Member project. 

The Strong Women & Families Health & Resource Fair began in 2010.  Currently partnering with Grace Hill, this one-day event takes place in the spring and brings together a dynamic group of agencies that provide services in preventative healthcare, finance, career, children/family and legal to low-income women and their families living in the City of St. Louis.

JLSL research found a great need for healthy, unprocessed food in a variety of underserved areas.  The City Greens/Food Desert Project was a collaboration between City Greens Produce and the JLSL to expand their brick and mortar storefront and mobile market to fight lack of food access in the St. Louis community.  Residents of food deserts face nutritional challenges evident in diet-related community health outcomes.

YWCA Scholarship Project was a partnership between the YWCA and the JLSL that promotes entrepreneurship through the YW-Teens Emerging Entrepreneurs Institute.  The Institute is a six-week course that is designed to provide participants with knowledge about how to develop a business idea, as well as own and operate a small business.  The JLSL's involvement will center around the end-of-course business plan competition.

 

Celebrating over 100 years of service in the community. 

Click here to see a list of past presidents of the Junior League of St. Louis.