03 Jan About > History
The Junior League: Women Around the World as Catalysts for Community Change
The Junior League of Albany is member League of the Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. (AJLI). The AJLI is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. Together, the Junior League of Albany is part of an international network of 291 Junior Leagues comprised of over 140,000 women, in Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S., engaged in similar work in their own communities. This provides us with a unique and powerful depth of knowledge and resourcefulness to bring about the changes we strive to accomplish.
It All Started With A Woman
Since its founding in 1901 by social activist Mary Harriman, The Junior League has evolved into one of the oldest, largest, and most effective women’s volunteer organizations in the world, encompassing more than 150,000 women in 291 Leagues in four countries. Mary was a woman ahead of her time, a New York debutante who at the young age of 19 had more than social teas and dances on her mind. The daughter of Union Pacific Railroad titan and financier E. H. Harriman, she used her life of privilege as a platform for social reform. In 1901, Mary formed The Junior League for the Promotion of Settlement Movements. Through her leadership, she mobilized an inaugural group of 80 other young women (including Eleanor Roosevelt) to work to improve child health, nutrition and literacy among immigrants living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
The years from 1907-1920 saw the expansion of the Junior League into new cities across the country and into new community issues with The Junior League shifting its focus to social, health and educational issues that affect the community at large. For more than a century, The Junior League has been on the forefront of social reform, identifying problems—poverty, hunger, illiteracy, domestic violence, foster children, childhood wellness, etc. —and finding solutions. The Junior League approach is simple. Through hands-on training and formal learning opportunities the Junior League gives women the skills they need to improve the quality of life in the communities they serve. The Junior League has had many extraordinary members including Eleanor Roosevelt, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush, Sandra Day O’Connor, Julia Child, Katherine Hepburn, and so many more.
Junior League of Albany Over 100 Years of Service to the Capital Region
The Junior League of Albany, founded in 1917, was part of the first movement to expand The Junior League to new cities. The original group of Junior League of Albany women knit goods for US soldiers overseas. Since then the Junior League of Albany has been a constant force of change in the Capital Region community and has evolved into a force of change in the Albany area, supporting diverse community projects that include the Ronald McDonald House, Equinox, Hope Club (Gilda’s Club), Race for the Cure, Dolly’s Imagination Library, Albany Girls Club, Inc, HATAS Weekend Backpack program and Journey’s Palliative Care Program at Albany Medical Center. For its Centennial celebration, the Junior League of Albany granted $100,000 in funds to 11 Capital Region organizations that support our community impact issue of alleviating hunger and improving the wellness of women and children in the Capital Region.