100 Years of History
Monday, May 2, 2022
The Junior League of Dallas is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.(1) JLD strives to be the premier organization to connect and develop women to improve the quality of life in the Dallas community.(1)
In 1922, ten women organized a group of civic-minded young ladies to give their time, talent and energy to improve the lives of Dallas’ growing population.(2) Offering their resources and time to support hospital patients and individuals with disabilities, the group leveraged the power of women as trained volunteers, giving rise to JLD – also referred to as Dallas Junior League previously – joining the nationwide Junior League movement.(3) At the time of the Dallas chapter’s formation, 32 other cities had subscribed to the Junior League across North America; Atlanta, Georgia was the first to open in the southern part of the country, and the Dallas chapter was not only the first in Texas, but in the Southwest.(3) From its inception, Dallas’ chapter centered volunteer service to the community and training its members for “efficient service and broad-minded citizenship.”(2)
Today, JLD has grown to over 4,400 members, and continues to transform Dallas by training members for effective participation in the community and through its dedication to the belief that volunteer service is an essential part of responsible citizenship.(4) From its inception until now, JLD has given more than $40 million to local nonprofit agencies and has provided more than nine million volunteer hours(4) across its six areas of focus: Health, Education, Arts & Cultural Enrichment, Family Preservation, Poverty Intervention and Violence Intervention.(1)
Members are organized into Actives, Sustainers (long-time members), Provisionals (first-year members) and Transfers (members from other Junior League chapters).1 Each member category, with the exception of Sustainers, are required to complete a certain number of hours of training and service annually.(1) Each year, the League donates an average of $1 million to 35-40 partnering agencies in addition to approximately 130,000 volunteer hours of trained service.(1) JLD also impacts the community through special projects including three Signature Projects: Grants for Innovative Teaching, Kids in the Kitchen (KITK), and Women LEAD and four league-controlled initiatives: Community Outreach, Musical Outreach, Provisional Projects and Transfer Projects.(4)
In 1902, 19-year-old Barnard College student and debutante, Mary Harriman founded the Junior League in New York City with a group of civic-minded young women to provide frontline assistance to families in settlement houses.(5) Mary’s idea to offer her time to community service birthed the far-reaching Junior League movement with chapters opening across the world, all currently under the official umbrella of the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI).(5)
Under the leadership of Mrs. Huey Hughes, a member of the chapter in St. Louis, and Mrs. Marshall P. Diggs, a member of the Atlanta chapter, a group of Dallas women submitted a petition to New York for admittance into the Junior League association.(2) On January 23, 1922, the 10 founders – Mrs. Joseph R. Brown, Mrs. W. M. Linge, Mrs. Arthur H. Cleaver, Mrs. H. L. Edwards, Mrs. Huey Hughes, Mrs. Dave Hughes, Mrs. Lang Wharton, Mrs. Rue O’Neill, Ms. Anna Buxton, Ms. Elizabeth Vardell – organized a meeting at the Dallas Country Club to elect their first officers;(3) Eva Trezevant O’Neill (Mrs. Rue O’Neill) was voted as the chapter’s first President.(6)
With a purpose of volunteering their services to nonsectarian charities, the newly founded chapter began working with municipal charities, Hope Cottage, Baby Camp, Parkland and Woodland Hospitals.(3) One of their first projects offered transportation for patients attending the free clinic in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church, and assisting doctors with clerical work; they also worked to arrange free transportation for family members and friends to and from the Woodlawn Tubercular Hospital to visit patients.(6) The Dallas chapter was officially recognized and inducted into the National Association of Junior Leagues on May 4, 1922.7
On November 1, 1923, the Junior League Handicapped Headquarters opened,(9) a center equipping women with disabilities with vocational training in skills such as sewing and employment opportunities;(10) the headquarters’ store sold products including aprons, ironing board covers, and towels, made by these women.11 In the 1920s, JLD raised funds to support its efforts through rummage sales, theatrical performances by members, sponsored dances at the Adolphus and Baker Hotels, fashion shows, sponsored horse shows and sales of their cookbook; the first edition of the book was published in 1924.(9) On January 24, 1924, JLD signed their charter to officially incorporate the organization in the State of Texas.(8) Charter members included: Effie Bagnell Hughes, Grace McDonough Flatter, Leland L. Dexter, Henrietta P. Aldredge, Eva Trezevant O’Neill, Rebekah P. Wharton, Lucille Perkins Padgitt, Olive V. Shelmire, Geils Adoue Thomson, Anne Wright Hughes, Emily K. Allen and Sarah Cockrell Green.(8)
In 1924, JLD members worked in the department for children with disabilities at the Scottish Rite Hospital,6 cementing a lasting partnership still maintained to date with the hospital,1 which also recently celebrated 100 years.12 JLD extended their service to children with disabilities by establishing a Home for Convalescent Children for girls aged 5-12,(9) which they ran between 1925 and 1930.(13) Training of civic leaders being core to the organization’s mission led to the creation of the first required course for Provisional members in 1926.(9)
With the shifting philosophies in response to the Great Depression, JLD’s investigative committee surveyed the community’s charitable needs, and upon the advice of local welfare agencies, instead of choosing a long-term project like the Home for Convalescent Children, they redirected their efforts to combat the economic crisis and work with the unemployed.(13) Maidie Moroney, 1930 – 1931 President, expressed in her annual report, that the organization did not feel they should conscientiously use their time and money on education efforts already in progress when the unemployment situation was so acute: “We decided, consequently, to defer the inauguration of any permanent charity and to bend our immediate effort upon the relief of the unemployed.”(13) In 1930, JLD members personally volunteered at the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen and financed its operations with a donation of $2,255.42 during the winter months, serving 14,066 meals.(13) They continued to raise funds to support the Red Cross, furnish food and clothing to families in need, and assist the unemployed with rent payments.(9) JLD recognized the importance of maintaining support of art and cultural enrichment as well by funding students at the Dallas Arts Institute, producing free theater performances for children at local schools and bringing visual art from Europe to Dallas via local print exhibitions.9 In 1931, the organization developed the state’s first occupational therapy department for children with disabilities at Scottish Rite Hospital, which remained in operation under JLD until 1939.(13)
Committee meetings were often held in members’ homes or local clubs, and in 1934, JLD established its headquarters at the Dallas Women’s Club.(9) JLD offered formal training to all its members via courses by the Civic Federation, hospital workers for volunteer service, guest speakers relevant to the field of study and AJLI’s (then AJLA) regional conferences.(14)
The early 1940s marked the beginning of World War II, and all JLD members were required to serve in war-related projects in addition to their regular service.(9) Among their various support roles, they helped organize the Civil Defense Volunteer office, donated $300 to the Red Cross and made 300 of their service kits in both 1942 and 1943 and donated two $1,000 Series F War Bonds to Southwest Medical Foundation in 1943.(9) With the war efforts coming to a close in 1945, JLD shifted its focus back to the community for peace-time efforts,(9) and in 1946, the League’s “Welfare Fund,” created through their fundraising efforts and used to support their service projects, was changed to the “Community Service Fund” to better reflect its purpose,(15) and continues to support the Dallas community annually to date.(1)
Despite the challenging historic events occurring through the 1930s and 1940s, JLD continued to grow, reaching 510 members as they entered the 1950s.(16) In 1952, the League founded the Children’s Development Center, a training school for special education and children with mental health issues.(9) In addition to supporting JLD’s volunteer service at various nonprofits, they also donated funds that they raised to agencies for their daily operations, including payment of employee salaries that could not otherwise be supported; in the 1950s, they underwrote the salary for a consulting psychologist at the Children’s Development Center (1953), a Psychiatric Case Consultant at the Dallas County Juvenile Department (1956) and a teacher for children with mental health issues at the Children’s Development Center – the first class of its kind in Dallas (1957) – as a part of JLD’s long-time and continued recognition of the importance of mental health.(9)
Concerned with the approaching shortage of teachers in the 1950s, JLD established the “Teachers for Texas” program in 1954 to encourage high school graduates to pursue the profession of teaching through scholarships and recruit retired teachers to rejoin the workforce.(17) Another aspect of JLD’s ethos established early on was approaching work with cultural competency; some examples include JLD service in West Dallas, prior to its annexation, as early as 1949 in collaboration with the Junior Chamber of Commerce to provide youth with recreational space and activities and provision of volunteers and teachers for a preschool for Spanish-speaking students in the 1960s.(9) More recently, offering curricula in both English and Spanish for the KITK program(18) and supporting Friends of the Dallas Public Library and Literacy Achieves with their bilingual programs.(1)
The JLD’s first $100,000 grant went to Children’s Medical Center for completion of the Neurology Center in 1962.(19) JLD established its first permanent headquarters at 2800 Routh Street in 19659 and in 1970, JLD leased its next headquarters in Old Town at 5500 Greenville Avenue, Suite 803.(9) With the increase in employment opportunities for women in the 1970s, the League began adjusting meeting times to accommodate their schedules. In 1973, they offered the first evening Provisional course, and in 1974, they hosted their first ever evening Board meeting.(9) “Many more women were beginning to go to work,” says Carolyn Foxworth, 1976 – 1977 JLD President. “That was a major change. We (the League) were going from a 10 or 15% professional base to about a 30% professional base. We were trying to look ahead to prepare ourselves for how the League would operate in the future.”(20) By 1979, professionally employed members made up one-third of the total membership.(21)
JLD’s magazine, “Newssheet” served as the primary means of communication among League members for 50 years before it was renamed “DallaCite” in 1976;(22) the annual publication entails the organization’s various activities and is circulated today among members, partnering agencies and donors.(1) With the expansion of the Junior League Ball through the 1970s and 1980s, JLD was able to raise funds to support large grants including $100,000 to reopen Dallas County’s Letot Center for youth crisis intervention23 and $300,000 to establish the Children’s Wing of the Dallas Museum of Art in 1977.(22)
In 1983, through a capital campaign, JLD acquired and constructed its current permanent headquarters building at 8003 Inwood Road.(22) That same year, JLD created the Community Assistance Fund to disperse emergency funds to agencies, and it has supported various needs through events as recent as the pandemic.(1)
In 1992, JLD implemented a grant program to support innovative projects for students developed by Dallas ISD teachers which were not covered by school budgets; the program continues today under the title of Grants for Innovative Teaching (GFIT).(24) As JLD expanded its service efforts in various fields of interest, reaching 52 community projects in 1994, they developed the six issue areas of focus followed to date to categorize them.(25) During the 1996-1997 year, the League celebrated its 75th anniversary, by funding two signature gifts to the community: the purchase of a building near Love Field to serve as a combined center and administrative office for Girls Inc., and the furnishing of a Victim’s Waiting Room in the Frank Crowley Criminal Courts Building.(26)
In 2002, JLD hosted the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) Conference, marking the 100th anniversary of the Junior League movement in the United States.(27) In 2005, the JLD provided more than 200 volunteers to The Red Cross and The Salvation Army in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to support evacuees received in Dallas.(28) In 2008, the T. Boone Pickens Foundation granted $250,000 for the JLD Leadership Institute to offer further leadership training to members.(29) That same year, JLD initiated Kids in the Kitchen (KITK), a national program developed by AJLI that teaches K-5 children how to maintain a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and fitness, administered at after-school programs;(28) today, the annual project continues to tackle health inequities behind childhood obesity via 20+ Dallas agencies.(1)
JLD celebrated its 90th year in 2012 with a special anniversary project, where members built a home through Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, benefitting one of the clients served by New Friends New Life, a former JLD partner agency that provides support to formerly trafficked women and girls.(29) In 2013, JLD launched Women LEAD, a scholarship program assisting female high school students to pursue their dreams of higher education.30 Since its inception, JLD has awarded 52 scholarships totaling more than $265,000 to female seniors at Emmett J. Conrad, South Oak Cliff and Thomas Jefferson High Schools.(4)
In 2020, JLD’s training teams adapted their offerings to tackle pressing topics vital to the community. With the onset of the pandemic, the organization found inventive ways to serve children struggling in school, seniors facing isolation and families working to make ends meet.(31) JLD’s Signature Projects and Community Outreach continued to support 40 Dallas ISD teachers through GFIT, taught over 750 students about healthy eating and exercise via KITK, distributed nearly 20,000 diapers to families and awarded $40,000 in college scholarships to 10 talented young women.(31) In response to the important conversations taking place around social inequities, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, first established in 2009, launched new training initiatives and resources not only to support diversity and inclusion within JLD, but to equip members in improving the ways they served the community.(31) In celebration of their 100th anniversary, JLD partnered with the Hall of State to host an interactive exhibit of its history and impact during the State Fair of Texas.(32) JLD’s Centennial project will honor Dallas Civil Rights leader, Juanita J. Craft, by collaborating with community members to rehabilitate her home to recognize it as a landmark and build an educational museum.(33) JLD will also host the 100th AJLI conference inviting members from over 295 chapters across the world to Dallas in May 2022.(34)
JLD continues to grow in membership and in its efforts; throughout its history, it has consistently responded to the community and adapted its work to meet its needs, especially during some of the most difficult crises seen over the past 100 years. Many JLD members have impacted the community through nonprofit and board leadership, holding political offices and initiating nonprofits themselves, such as:(35)
Dallas nonprofits founded by JLD members: Susybelle Gosslee, Our Friends Place; Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler, co-founder of Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center and first woman to serve on a grand jury in Dallas;36 Lyda Hill, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Laura Bush, co-founder of George W. Bush Presidential Center and former First Lady
Dallas nonprofits led by JLD members: Caren Prothro, Letot;(37) Jan Langbein, Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support; Rosalyn Dawson Thompson, Texas Women’s Foundation; Jennifer Hilton Sampson, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas; Bess Enloe, AT&T Performing Arts Center; Paige McDaniel, Community Partners of Dallas; Katie Robbins, Hoblitzelle Foundation; Linda Perryman Evans, former chair of Meadows Foundation; Helen Holman, former SVP & Chief Impact Officer at Dallas Foundation
Political affiliations and offices held by JLD members: Calvert Keoun Collins, first female city council member in Dallas; Veletta Forsythe Hill, former City Council Member; Gay Donnell Willis, current City Council Member;(38) Margo Goodwin, Mayor of Highland Park;(39) Lydia Novakov, current Highland Park Town Member;(39) Rita Crocker Clements, former First Lady of Texas;(40) Matrice Ellis-Kirk, former First Lady of Dallas and Dallas City Council appointed board member of the DFW Airport Authority; Jeanne Johnson Phillips, former Ambassador as Chief of the U.S. Mission at the OECD in France.(41)
Organizations and programs impacted by JLD over its 100 years:(1,9,22) Adopt-A-Star School, American Heart Association, The Arc of Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art, Artreach, Attitudes & Attire, Baby Camp, Baylor Health Care System, Baylor Health Care System Foundation – Our Children’s House & Twice Blessed House, Big Thought, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Dallas, Bryan’s House, Callier Hearing and Speech Center, Camp Fire Program, Cancer Support Community North Texas, Catholic Charities of Dallas (Refugee & Immigrant Women’s Life Skills), Center for Housing Resources, Center for Nonprofit Management, Childcare Connection, Children’s Development Center, Children’s Health, Children’s Medical Center, Children’s Theater, Christmas Clearing Bureau, Citizen’s Unemployment Relief Association, City Park – Anniversary Project, Civic Federation, Civil Defense Volunteer Office, Cliff House, Club Young-at-Heart, Common Ground, Common Group Community, Communities in Schools of the Dallas Region, Inc., Community Partners of Dallas, CONTACT Crisis Line, Contact Dallas, Dallas Arboretum, Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, Inc., Dallas CASA, Dallas Challenge, Dallas Child Welfare Emergency Shelter, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Dallas Civic Garden Center, Dallas Civic Opera, Dallas Commission on Children and Youth, Dallas County Detention Home, Dallas Day Nursery, Dallas Health and Science Museum, Dallas Heart Association, Dallas Heritage Society, Dallas Heritage Village, Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, Dallas ISD, Dallas Museum of Arts, Dallas Opera, Dallas Public Library, Dallas Services for Blind Children, Dallas Services for Visually Impaired, Dallas Society for Crippled Children, Dallas Taping for the Blind, Dallas Tenants’ Association, Dallas Tennis Association, Dallas Theater Arts, Inc., Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Tuberculosis Association, Dallas Zoo, Drug Education, East Dallas Community School, Education is Freedom, Equest, Eye Bank, Family Gateway, Inc, The Family Place, FOCAS, Foreign Host Visitors, Free Lunch Program, Freeman Memorial Clinic, Friends of the Dallas Public Library, Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support, Gilda’s Club North Texas, Girls Adventure Trails, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, Girl’s Day Center, Girls Inc., Highland Park ISD, Home for Convalescent Children, Home for Working Mothers, Hope Cottage, Horizon Club, Hospitality House, Incest Recovery Association, Inner City Day Camp, Interfaith Family Services, Interfaith Housing Coalition, Jonathan’s Place, Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House , Jubilee Park, Juliette Fowler Communities, Juvenile Department of Dallas County, Las Amigas/ UpWords, Letot, Listeners, Literacy Achieves, Literacy Task Force, Lumin Education, Methodist Health System Foundation, Methodist Medical Center, Momentous Institute, Museum of Nature & Science, Musical Therapy, New Friends New Life, New Horizons, Nexus, North Dallas Shared Ministries, North Texas Food Bank, Notre Dame School, Office of International Affairs, Our Friends Place, Palmer Drug Abuse Program, Parkland Health & Hospital System, Partners In Learning, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Pilot Home, Plays for Living, Presbyterian West, Presbyterian Clinic Self-Help Garden Club, Promise House, Rainbow Days, Rays of Light, Recovery Association, Red Cross, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, The Ashford Rise School of Dallas, Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, Safe Rides, Salvation Army, The Science Place, Scottish Rite Hospital, The Senior Source, Shared Housing, Soroptimist Camp, Southwest Medical Foundation, Southwestern Legal Foundation’s Institute on Juvenile Delinquency, Special Care School, SP-PAN, St. Philip’s School and Community Center, The Stewpot, Suicide Prevention of Dallas, Symphony YES, Terrell State Hospital, Texas Discovery Gardens, Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation, Texas Health Resources Foundation, The Cliburne, Theater Three, Treescape, Trinity River Mission, Turtle Creek Manor, University YMCA, US Archives – George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, V.N.A, Vickery Meadow Learning Center, Victims Outreach, West Dallas Campfire, West Dallas Community Center, West Dallas Park Projects, West Dallas Tennis, WHO, The Wilkinson Center, Woman to Woman, Women’s Way Back, Woodlawn Hospital, Y.M.C.A, Y.W.C.A, Young Audiences of Greater Dallas
Learn more about our 100 years of history.
2021 – 2022
- Junior League of Dallas. 2021-2022. Handbook. Dallas, Texas.
- Dallas Morning News. 1922. City To Have Chapter of National Junior League. January 15: Part 3, Page 11.
- Dallas Morning News. 1922. Dallas Junior League To Elect Officers. January 22: Part 2, Page 2.
- Junior League of Dallas. 2021-2022. At A Glance. Dallas, Texas.
- Association of Junior Leagues of Dallas. Founder Mary Harriman. https://www.ajli.org/?nd=p-who-legacy-mary-harriman
- Dallas Morning News. 1922. Junior League Announces Plans. January 29: Part 2, Page 2.
- Junior League of Dallas Archives. 1922. Minutes of the Meeting. May 4.
- Junior League of Dallas Archives. 1924. Charter of Junior League of Dallas. January 24.
- Junior League of Dallas. 1975-1976. Fifty-Second Annual Report. “History.” Dallas, Texas.
- Dallas Morning News. 1924. Junior League Meeting To Be Held In Denver. February 10: Part 4, Page 2.
- Dallas Morning News. 1924. Junior League Ends Busy Year. May 25: Part 4, Page 5.
- Scottish Rite for Children. 2021. A Century of Redefining Pediatric Orthopedics. https://scottishriteforchildren.org/centennial
- Junior League of Dallas. 1930-1931. Seventh Annual Report. “President’s Report.” Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 1933-1934. Tenth Annual Report. “President’s Report.” Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 1946-1947. 23rd Annual Report for the year 1946-1947. “President’s Report.” Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 1949-1950. Annual Report 1949-1950. Dallas, Texas.
- Dallas Times Herald. 1954. Junior League Has Sound Plan For Recruiting More Teachers. October 28: Section 3, Page 19.
- Junior League of Dallas. 2019-2020. Handbook. Dallas, Texas. Page 464
- Junior League of Dallas. 1962-1963. Annual Report 1962-1963. Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 1976-1977. Annual Report 1976-1977. Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 1979-1980. Annual Report 1979-1980. Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 1983-1984. Annual Report 1983-1984. “History.” Dallas, Texas. Pages 30-57.
- Dallas Morning News. 1978. School for runaways may reopen under plan. January 19: Section D, Page 8.
- Junior League of Dallas. 2007-2008. Annual Report. Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 1994-1995. Annual Report. Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 1996-1997. Annual Report. Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 2002-2003. Annual Report. Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 2005-2006. Annual Report. Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 2012-2013. Annual Report. Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 2013-2014. Annual Report. Dallas, Texas.
- Junior League of Dallas. 2020-2021. DallaCite 2020-2021.
- Fong, Billy. PaperCity Magazine. 2021. Explore 100 Years of Dallas Junior League History at the State Fair of Texas. September 1. https://www.papercitymag.com/culture/junior-league-of-dallas/
- Dallas Morning News. 2020. Juanita Craft represented the core values of today’s Junior League of Dallas. October 17. https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2020/10/17/juanita-craft-represented-the-core-values-of-todays-junior-league-of-dallas/
- Association of Junior Leagues International. 2022. 2022 Annual Conference. https://www.ajli.org/?nd=2022_annual_conference
- Junior League of Dallas. 2022. Membership Directory. Dallas, Texas.
- Dallas Morning News. 2017. Ruth Altshuler Obituary (1924 – 2017). https://obits.dallasnews.com/us/obituaries/dallasmorningnews/name/ruth-altshuler-obituary?id=8649577
- George W. Bush Presidential Center. Caren Prothro. https://www.bushcenter.org/people/caren-prothro.html
- Dallas Morning News. 2015. Calvert Collins Obituary (1922-2015). https://obits.dallasnews.com/us/obituaries/dallasmorningnews/name/calvert-collins-obituary?id=7873163
- The Town of Highland Park. Mayor & Town Council. https://www.hptx.org/338/Mayor-Town-Council
- Dallas Morning News. 2018. Rita Crocker Clements Obituary (1931-2018). https://obits.dallasnews.com/us/obituaries/dallasmorningnews/name/rita-clements-obituary?id=1615905
- U.S. Department of State. 2001. Jeanne L. Phillips. https://2001-2009.state.gov/outofdate/bios/p/6199.htm