In the spring of 1920, Mrs. I.M. Raymond attended a class reunion at Vassar in Poughkeepsie, NY, and returned to Lincoln excited about a new project – a local Junior League. Two cities, Kansas City and Omaha, already having established Junior Leagues, answered a need for sponsorship, and on May 13, 1921, Mrs. Raymond received a letter of acceptance from the Junior League of America.
Charter members were selected and invitations extended to the first provisional class in the fall. The following served as the first officers:
MRS. I.M. RAYMOND President
MRS. ARTHUR RAYMOND Vice President
MRS. CHARLES A. WILSON Recording Secretary
MRS. E.J. FAULKNER Corresponding Secretary
The initial projects, then called committees, were Dependent Home, City Mission, County Farm, Detention Home, Juvenile Court, Motor Corps, Orthopedic Hospital and Sewing Circle. Members were required to work 100 hours a year and could stop working when the obligation was met.
The first fall rummage sale was held, and proceeds totaled $880.84. The rummage sale was a continuous provider until the birth of the Thrift Shop in 1952 at 215 N. Ninth St. The shop’s adventure led it to 2219 O St. and continuous growth forced a move to larger quarters at 2117 0 St.
In 1922 and 1923 musical reviews were presented and financial successes resulted again – $3,000 and $4,000 respectively.
A major undertaking which, unfortunately, met an early death, was the securing of a Junior League Home for Working Girls. Two properties were used: the first at 1527 M St. and the second at 1432 G St. Income could not match cost and the project was abandoned after two years.
From the beginning, League members provided several services which ran smoothly. City Mission provided a child day care center for working mothers. Party days were special at the County Farm, and a Motor Corps Committee transported children from Orthopedic Hospital and Dependent and Detention Homes. Baby Clinics and School Clinics advanced basic concepts of good health. The Baby Clinics reached their peak in 1933-1934 when 3,280 babies were treated.
Gaiety was in order again in May of 1929 with sponsorship of a charity horse show. The League’s Ladies Musical Drill put 16 members, both schooled and unschooled in the art of riding on horseback and $2,000 was the result.
Highlights through the years are below.
Town Hall Lecture Series began a 15 year run
Focus was on wartime activities
Child Guidance Center opened in 1949
The Children’s Theater returned in 1949
Thrift Shop opened in 1952
Supported the Nebraska Center for Continuing Education, Belmont & Malone Community Centers and the Children’s Zoo among others
Co-sponsored Lincoln’s first Book Fair in 1961
Participated in restoration of William Jennings Bryan home
Started Sheldon Art Gallery docent program in 1963
Thrift Shop moved to ‘O’ Street
Celebrated 50 year anniversary
In 1972 policies were implemented that outlined the definition, initiation, development and implementation of a project.
The 10-year commitment to Sheldon ended
1977 saw Thrift Shop monthly profits soar above $8,000
60th Anniversary was celebrated w/239 actives
Flexible placements were establish because over 50% of members were employed or students
The League computer was stolen & new security measures were instituted.
1986-87 celebrated $1 million profit mark at the Thrift Shop
1986-987 received two national AJLI Public Relations Awards: one for the Scribbler and another for a stop the violence video.
Committed renewed support to the Thrift Shop
1991-92 celebrated 70th year anniversary & focused on the Folsom Children’s Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Project Research & Development (PRD) was formed.
1994 received the civic organization award from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Consortium on children and youth
Eliminated upper age limit for membership
26 pregnant or parenting teens were mentored through the joint Lincoln Public Schools Student Parent Program
Sustainer of the Year Award first presented in 1995
The Council Structure implemented 1997-98
League gives $85,000 to Friendship Home which helps them purchase a second facility
Child Advocacy Center developed and decorated
Thrift Shop moved to 56th & Highway 2
Celebrated 80th and 85th Anniversary
Strategic Plan developed
Women’s Leadership Development Grant program implemented
Thrift Shop relocated
Established DISH It Up! Fundraiser
10 year commitment to New American Project
Received national AJLI $10,000 Fund for the Future award