The History of the Junior League
The first Junior League was established in New York City in 1901. In the spring of 1912, the Junior League held its first conference in New York City and six Leagues were present; three more were recognized. The separate Leagues continued to operate without centrally organizing until 1921. At that time there were thirty Leagues and they founded the Association of the Junior Leagues of America, Inc., with their purpose to unite the member Leagues and offer leadership and assistance. The number of member Leagues has grown substantially until it is now 294 worldwide, with approximately 180,000 women participating. The headquarters of AJLI is located at: 90 William Street, Suite 200, New York, New York 10038.
The History of the Junior League of Birmingham, Michigan
In 1938, thirty members of the Detroit Junior League (JLD) were living in the Birmingham-Bloomfield area. The leaders of this informal but dynamic group were Mrs. Jon Sander, Mrs. Paul Hoffman and Mrs. Merrill Bates. Along with their individual volunteer work, this group took charge of the Thrift Shop at the Birmingham Community House.
In 1943, with the outbreak of World War II, the Thrift Shop closed and gasoline rationing made it difficult to drive to Grosse Pointe for volunteer work and to attend meetings. Numbering 64 members at the time, the group began to meet as the Birmingham-Bloomfield Group of the Detroit Junior League with monthly evening meetings.
A year later in 1944 the group voted to become the Oakland County Branch, a standing committee of the Detroit Junior League with power to elect its own officers. This active group grew to 150 members. They initiated their own projects as they continued to support the fundraising activities of the Detroit Junior League.
In 1949-50, the group achieved new status as the Birmingham Unit of the Junior League of Detroit. The Bargain Box was established that year as a permanent money raising thrift shop. With six projects, involvement in twenty other agencies and after fourteen years of affiliation with the JLD the Birmingham unit decided to apply for League status. After a preliminary visit from a representative of the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI), the Junior League of Birmingham, Michigan was established in 1952 as the 177th League to become a member of AJLI.