Movers & Shakers: Women’s History Month: The Junior Leagues Look Back on 109 Years of Members’ Civic Leadership

In 1901, 86 years before Congress formalized Women’s History Month and 19 years before American women were given the right to vote, a young New York socialite named Mary Harriman had an idea unusual for her class and time: that women had an important role to play as civic leaders.  The result was the start of an all-women volunteer organization called The Junior League, now with 160,000 members in 292 independent Leagues in the U.S., Canada, the UK and Mexico.

In tribute to Mary Harriman and in honor of Women’s History Month, The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) will post one fact about a Junior League member – some famous and some not – who carried Mary Harriman’s ideal into action each day via Twitter.  Follow @JuniorLeague and you can learn about Junior League women, including those listed below, who have made their mark in the worlds of politics, education, children’s health and more.

  • Catherine Cleary, first woman director of General Motors and AT&T
  • Oveta Culp Hobby, first secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, first commanding officer of the Women’s Army Corps
  • Sandra Day O’Connor, first woman on the Supreme Court
  • Margaret Hamilton, actress, best known for her portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz
  • Katharine Hepburn, actress
  • Sarah Palfrey Cooke, two-time Wimbledon champion
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady, United Nations Delegate
  • Margaret Chase Smith, first woman elected to U.S. Senate
  • Deborah Taylor Tate, FCC Commissioner
  • Shirley Temple Black, actress, United Nations Delegate, US Ambassador
  • Eudora Welty, author and Pulitzer Prize winner

Debbie Robinson, President of The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc., said, “What is remarkable about this list of women is not simply their membership in a Junior League, but their successful adaption of the core League vision – women around the world as catalysts for lasting community change – into action in their lives.”

For more information about how Junior League women are changing their communities through civic leadership, please visit

About The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc.

Founded in 1901 by New Yorker, Mary Harriman, the Junior Leagues are charitable nonprofit organizations of women, developed as civic leaders, creating demonstrable community impact.

Today, The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is comprised of more than 160,000 women in 292 Junior Leagues throughout Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States.  Together, they constitute one of the largest, most effective volunteer organizations in the world.


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