League Highlights

The Junior League of Charleston, Inc. Charter Members

Anne Montague Stoney * Sarah Parsons Prioleau*
Mary Frances Cathcart Stevens * Frances Prioleau Menefee*
Winifred Williams Geer* Kitty Cathcart Hamm*
Caroline Simonds Stevens* Emmie Mayberry McIntire*
Marion Rodgers Robertson* Mary B. Parsons Means*
Elizabeth Myers Maybank* Loti Ficken Chisolm*

* Denotes Deceased

History of the Junior League of Charleston Inc.

"The Junior Circle", which four months later became the Junior League of Charleston, was organized February 20, 1923, with 12 members. These early members realized the importance of a strong foundation and from the start made efforts to ensure that the League would remain a well-structured organization. To facilitate communication among a growing membership, Cobblestones was first published in 1929. In 1931, the placement concept was introduced. Supporting the arts was a priority with our League from its start, and in 1947 the Community Arts Committee was first mentioned.

During the 1960's the League realized more and more the importance of studying various avenues of change, and so the Advisory Planning Committee was first mentioned in 1965. Community outreach was fast becoming an area of emphasis, and on the advice of the Regional Director of the Association of Junior Leagues, the Community and Project Research Committee was born.

In 1973, to celebrate 50 years of volunteer service and a contribution of $300,200 to the community, the membership held a gala affair at Middleton Place. Charter members and past presidents were honored at a luncheon, and a leadership management workshop was held for the membership. Social changes in the 1970's continued to remind the League of its importance to the community, and League evolution was focused on answering the needs of a growing city. The League year 1973-74 saw the establishment of community priorities, and League education focused on these areas. The Public Affairs Committee was established as a sub-committee of the Education Committee, and soon after the State Public Affairs Committee (SPAC) was formed with all the state Leagues participating. SPAC was quick to realize the effect it had on state legislation, and in 1976 the membership voted to support a bill to establish the South Carolina Heritage Trust Program. To help guide our League in its changes, delegates were sent to an Area Ill seminar on Future Planning and on finance. These delegates and members of the Future Planning Committee saw the need for a study of the membership; and, in 1978-79, the Hogg Foundation's Organizational Self-Assessment Survey was completed by 221 active and provisional members. Survey results were used by the Future Planning Committee to plot the course of the League.

As the membership expanded in the 1980's, so did the number of committees and therefore the number of members serving on the Board of Directors. To keep the administration from becoming cumbersome, the Council system was introduced in 1982-83 and remains in place today. From its inception, the League has always had projects in different areas, but until 1982-83 there had been no formal policy defining those areas. That year the concept of position statements was introduced, and the first position statement declared an interest in child welfare. Others followed quickly, making up our current total of seven. The League's 60th anniversary was celebrated in 1983 with a gala ball and a two day seminar on Woman Time Management. A computer was purchased to handle the demands of membership and community involvement. The League received the Governor's Volunteer Award for outstanding service in the volunteer group category. In 1984-85 our policy on mini-grants was approved with the first ones being issued during 1986-87. 1986 saw the need for a committee to oversee our community projects, and so the Projects Committee evolved. Two pivotal Ad Hoc committees were also established. One studied our placement policy and developed the Act System which provided an equitable system of volunteer hours distribution. That committee's recommendations were accepted in 1988 and became effective for the 1988-89 year. The second Ad Hoc committee was formed to determine the League's position on the war against adolescent pregnancy. Their study led to a media campaign in 1987 done in coalition with the National Council of Negro Women, Delta Sigma Theta sorority and the AME Church Missionary Society. The campaign brought attention to the project Mothers and Company and led to the adoption of the teen Outreach Program in 1987. The media campaign was a significant accomplishment not only in that it addressed the crisis of adolescent pregnancy but also in that our League publicly took a stand on a controversial issue. The first Community Resource Board was established in 1986. Composed of members representing various sectors of our community, the Board exists to assist the League in program development. The Low Country Women's Coalition was formed in 1988; and the League, from this coalition's conception, has been an active member. In its ongoing effort to remain a relevant reflection of community make up, the League declared membership diversity a high priority.

As we moved into the 1990’s, the League began the process of focusing, where specific areas of emphasis are adopted for concentration. In 1994, the Strategic Planning Committee presented three focus areas which were adopted by the membership: Family Preservation, At-Risk Youth and Child Abuse and Neglect. League programs and projects will be guided by these focus areas in the coming years. A policy was implemented calling for Five Year Strategic Plans to be adopted to address long range goals and planning for the League. The first Five Year Strategic Plan was adopted in 1995 and a subsequent Five Year Strategic Plan was adopted in 1998.

Also in the mid 1990’s, the Board structure was studied and reorganized, yielding a smaller Board than in previous years and a stronger Council based system. This system is designed to handle a growing membership organization.

Headquarters

As the League grew in size and in the scope of its mission, the need for a home for records, committee work and meetings became pressing. In 1966 the Advisory Planning Committee recommended and the membership endorsed that 82 Logan Street become our first headquarters. Growth made several moves necessary: from Logan Street to 93 Rutledge Avenue in 1969, from Rutledge to the Liberty National Bank Building at 151 Meeting Street in 1981 and finally from there to 51 Folly Road in April 1986.

National Leadership

The Junior League of Charleston can be proud not only in the way that it has demonstrated responsible growth in Charleston, but also in the way that this foresight has been perceived on the national level. From the beginning AJL (now AJLI) has looked to Charleston for ideas and leaders. In 1926 the first regional conference was held in Charleston; and subsequently, this concept was adopted by AJL as standard procedure. Anne Montague Stoney, our first president, was elected Regional Director in 1928. Several other local presidents were elected to that prestigious position: Mary Vereen Hugenin in 1942, Wilmot Gibbs in 1955, and Nella Barkley in 1969. Mrs. Barkley went on to be elected first vice-president in 1971 and in 1972 became president of AJL. In 1971, our League was asked to participate in a trial administrative grouping of neighboring Leagues which led to the adoption of the area council concept. Under new AJL by-laws, our League became a member of Area III along with North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida. Cozy Pelzer was elected to the Area III council in 1975, and Katy Huger was elected to that council in 1979. Charleston hosted the Area III seminar in 1980. In 1981 Kathleen Turner was elected to the Area III council and in 1982-83 became the Area Council Chair and Director. True Applegate was elected to a two-year term as director of AJL's Board for Area III in 1984. In 1985 Kitty Robinson was elected to the Area III council and later served on the AJL Board as Nominating Chair. Cathy Forrester served as an AJLI Service Provider from 1992 to 1994, and Anne C. Burris served as an AJLI Service Provider from 1994-96. Its obvious leadership stand will ensure the continued election of Charleston members to AJL positions.