History

Founder of the Junior League of Chicago

Lucy McCormick Blair Linn
Founder of the Junior League of Chicago

The Junior League of Chicago was founded in 1912 by Lucy McCormick Blair Linn. The initial focus was to interest young women in the industrial and social issues of the city, research ways to effectively address those issues and to bring about positive change, and to set an example for others about the importance of civic welfare. The objectives of the founding members have remained constant throughout the years and to this day include:

  • Developing projects in response to the ever-changing needs of the community
  • Developing, funding, and staffing projects and ultimately turning them over to the community as independent organizations

Throughout our history we have created major projects that are leading edge and leave a legacy to the city of Chicago. Some examples include the following:

Centennial Days of Service and the KaBOOM! Playground Build

During the Junior League of Chicago’s Centennial year, nearly 30 Centennial Days of Service projects were organized with past, present and future community partner agencies. In addition, the capstone Centennial community project was a partnership with the nonprofit organization, KaBOOM!, to build a playground with our new community partner, the Chicago Preschool Academy in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood.

2000s

Healthy Lifestyles Initiative
The JLC is working with the Chicagoland community to promote initiatives and education on the topic of health, wellness and nutrition for women and children.

Kids in the Kitchen
In 2006, the JLC in conjunction with the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) launched a local program to empower youth to make healthy lifestyle choices and help reverse the growth of childhood obesity and its associated health issues. This annual, one-day culinary experience at Macy’s Culinary Studio engages kids in the preparation of healthy meals and educates them and their parents on nutrition and healthy choices. The session also includes physical activity and group discussion.

1990s

Junior League of Chicago Signature Project: Next Step for Teen Moms
The Next Step for Teen Moms project, a partnership with the University of Chicago Department of Pediatrics, aims to help first-time teen mothers commit to higher education and the development of their career goals before having another child.

1980s

Chicago Children’s Museum
The First Signature Project was the Express Ways Children’s Museum. Today, this museum is known as the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier.

First Pediatric AIDS Home in the Midwest
Helped open Children’s Place when AIDS was a new and controversial health issue.

1970s

First Victim Witness Assistance Project
Crime and substance abuse prevention has been a focus of several JLC projects over the years. The introduction of the First Victim Witness Assistance program served as a prototype for court improvements across the country.

1960s

Junior Museum at the Art Institute
The Junior League of Chicago founded the Junior Museum and Volunteer Guide Program at the Art Institute giving guided tours with special emphasis for children.

1950s

First Pediatric Psychiatry Center in the Country
This was a bold undertaking. But in our efforts to provide for the troubled youth of Chicago, we partnered with the Woods Foundation and Children’s Memorial Hospital.

1940s

First Consultation Clinic for Epilepsy
Epilepsy had been virtually ignored until JLC recognized that our assistance was needed. In conjunction with the University of Illinois, we contributed $53,000 to fund the first clinic for epilepsy.

1920s

First Children’s Theater in the Country
JLC’s commitment to the theater as learning and teaching medium has been a common thread of our projects through the years.

 

Read more about Junior League history here!