Our History

Since 1914, Junior League of St. Louis has worked to improve the greater St. Louis area with impactful, innovative contributions to our community, though long-term projects, financial donations, and the creation of trained female volunteers. Our focus is on building a better community for everyone to enjoy.

Our timeline lasts more than 100 years, and includes some of the highlights listed below.

JLSL History Through the Decades

1910s

1920s

  • 1920- JLSL hosted its first Follies, raising $6,000 (almost $77,000 in 2017 dollars)
  • 1921- AJLI was founded, and JLSL was one of 30 Junior Leagues in the U.S.
  • 1927- JLSL established its tearoom; lunches were brought in from the Lucy Hall tearoom next door.

1930s

  • 1930- JLSL began working with live Children’s Theater, hosting Beauty and the Beast
  • 1939-JLSL adopted Grace Hill Nursery School (now Grace Hill, Inc.) as project, assisting with volunteers and funding

1940s

  • 1941- JLSL’s Glee Club began
  • 1943- By the midpoint of WWII, 554 JLSL members were active in the Red Cross
  • 1945- JLSL bought the building at 4919 Forest Park to house the Forest Park Children’s Center, which later merged with Edgewood

1950s

  • 1957- JLSL’s Follies, Forward Look, raised $29,000 (almost $254,000 in 2017 dollars)
  • 1958- JLSL hosted 40 delegates from UN, and became a founding sponsor of two museums at the Academy of Science (now the Science Center).

1960s

  • 1964- JLSL formed a joint venture with the YMCA to assist culturally disadvantaged children prepare for formal school; this work became the forerunner for the national Head Start Program
  • 1964- JLSL’s Follies, Wicket City, raised $34,000 (almost $266,000 in 2017 dollars)
  • 1965- Your Bulletin Board (now LeagueLetter) began as a monthly in-League news sheet
  • 1968- Our new charter was approved, making JLSL a nonprofit organization

1970s

  • 1976- League Larks started as a daytime women’s singing group
  • 1979- Adopted first position statement, “Volunteerism and Voluntary Sector,” and assisted the St. Louis Mayor’s office in hosting a National Conference of Mayors

1980s

  • 1981- Teen Outreach, an after-school program at local high schools and middle schools aimed at reducing teen pregnancies and encourage students to complete high school, is initiated. The program is so successful that the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and later, AJLI, fund a national version
  • 1981- JLSL volunteers began researching the first 100 years of Forest Park, leading to the publication of Forest Park, written by Caroline Loughlin and Catherine Anderson
  • 1981- JLSL hosts the first Treasure Trunk, raising $90,000 for Community Trust Fund (almost $255,000 in 2017 dollars)
  • 1984- Nightingales is established as an evening singing group
  • 1987- JLSL hosted the Teen Outreach conference in St. Louis, and AJLI adopted it as a national program
  • 1988- JLSL Sustainer NAME served as a representative on AJLI’s Board of Directors

1990s

  • 1990- JLSL developed “From All Walks of Life,” an AIDS walk that distributed $120,000 to local agencies working with HIV-related issues (almost $230,000 in 2017 dollars)
  • 1990- JLSL established Children’s Theatre as a perpetual project as JLSL’s 75th Anniversary gift to the community
  • 1993- Published our first cookbook, Saint Louis Days Saint Louis Nights
  • 1999- JLSL is the founding sponsor of St. Louis’ first Komen Race for the Cure

2000s

  • 2000- Published our second cookbook, Meet Us in the Kitchen
  • 2002- JLSL partners with Nottingham High School to host the Glass Slipper prom
  • 2003- Little Wishes program is developed (now run by Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition)
  • 2006- JLSL joins AJLI’s Kids in the Kitchen initiative
  • 2009- JLSL revives its Cinnamon Rolls fundraiser, earning $39,549. JLSL also establishes its three-year curriculum for our Leadership Development Series

2010s

  • 2010- The inaugural Developing Strong Women and Families Resource Fair is held (now Strong Women & Families Health & Resource Fair)
  • 2011- JLSL’s State Legislative Issues Committee (SLIC) worked on House Bill 1049 on cyberbullying. JLSL also hosted its first Kitchen Tour as a fundraiser (now Home Design Tour)
  • 2012- JLSL headquarters move to Kirkwood
  • 2014- JLSL celebrates its Centennial Anniversary, and hosts the 2014 AJLI Annual Conference
  • 2016- Members vote to take on infant mortality in our Day 366 community initiative