The Junior League of Raleigh (JLR) had its beginnings as the Junior Guild in 1927. Fifty-three women who wanted to make a difference in their community joined together to “unite in one body the young women of Raleigh to promote fellowship within the group, to foster interest among its members in social, economic, educational and civic conditions of their community, to make efficient their volunteer service.”
In 1930, the Junior Guild was accepted into The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., which included a couple of dozen groups in a growing community service movement that had begun in New York City just after the turn of the century. That year, the JLR had 87 members who volunteered 6,663 hours and gave $2,744 back to the community.
Throughout the rest of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, the JLR launched many new initiatives including health clinics for babies, a community chest for citizens in need, and puppet shows for children. They began hosting the Inaugural Ball for the Governor of North Carolina in 1930 and have hosted or co-hosted every ball since. In 1951, the League opened the Bargain Box in the Village District to raise funds to sponsor more community organizations as well as to help those in need of clothing and household goods. The Bargain Box moved around the Village District and was remodeled many times, finally moving to 401 Woodburn Road, where it stayed until it was permanently closed in 2018.
JLR’s premier shopping event, A Shopping SPREE!, was inaugurated in 1985, raising $30,000. Over the years SPREE! has grown to encompass dozens of exhibitors, train hundreds of women through thousands of volunteer hours, and raised millions of dollars to give back to the community through grants and project development.
In 2008 the League took a major step and purchased the Matsumoto-designed, modernist building on Hillsborough Street that became the Julia Jones Daniels Center for Community Leadership. The CCL is home to JLR staff, the site for League meetings and training, and provides office space for several non-profit tenants. Nonprofits from across the state, as well as for-profit organizations in need of meeting space, rent training, and meeting rooms. As always, funds raised go to support JLR projects and programs.
The Junior League of Raleigh is always evolving, offering busy women opportunities to lead and volunteer and expanding in diversity and inclusion. Our 1200-plus membership is always working to expand and deepen outreach to the community to enhance the quality of life and the future of Raleigh and Wake County.
Since 1930, the League has been instrumental in the founding and development of critical non-profit agencies through both transformative gifts and well-trained womanpower. Some of our most striking achievements, in historical order, are listed here.
The League has also played a role in advocating for and taking public stands on several issues.
- Endorsed public school kindergarten; supported child advocacy bills before the Legislature on daycare regulations and mother and infant care services; testified to legislative committees in public hearings on juvenile justice, daycare, and child abuse
- Sponsored Wake Up for Children public forum—which resulted in the formation of the Wake County Child Advocacy Council
- Presented a two-day forum with 1,600 attendees on family relationships
- Conducted statewide seminar on Improving Services to Children in NC
- Advocacy: comprehensive health education in public schools, perinatal healthcare, reduced class size
- Position statements: cultural arts and voluntarism, public stands on daycare, public education, foster care
Art in the Schools—Grades 3, 4, and 5 workbook
Capital Games—children’s workbook on Raleigh history
Communities: A Curriculum for Third-Grade Teachers
North Carolina’s Capital: Raleigh, 1st and 2nd editions
You’re Invited Cookbook
You’re Invited Back
To view a complete historical list of JLR Presidents click here.
The role of Executive Vice President was added in 2016. To view a complete historical list of JLR EVPs click here.