Junior League of Wilmington Donates Archives Collection to the University of Delaware

The archives of the Junior League of Wilmington include publications, brochures and publicity material related to the organization's many charitable fundraising projects. Whale of a Sale, Heart of the Home ® kitchen tours and JLW's cookbook, Savor, are some of the projects that have raised funds to support renovation of the Brandywine House, the Wilmington Senior Center and puppet shows for children.

The University of Delaware Library and the Junior League of Wilmington, Inc., announce the donation of the Junior League’s archives to the Library where the records will be housed in the Special Collections Department and available to the public for research. Spanning the dates 1918 to the present, the collection comprises approximately seventy-five linear feet and provides a comprehensive overview of the Junior League’s rich history. 

Organized in 1918 under the inspiration of Mrs. William S. Bergland, the Junior League of Wilmington, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and one of 292 leagues of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

For over ninety years the Junior League has made an impact in the greater Wilmington community on diverse issues including the Foster Care Review Board, prison reform, literacy, public health initiatives, well-baby clinics and health centers, the Ronald McDonald House, the Delaware Curative Workshop, the Delaware Women’s Conference, the Wellness Community Delaware and the Woodlawn Library. The Junior League is also well-known for its popular fundraisers including cookbooks Savor and Dancing on the Table, “Whale of a Sale,” and “Heart of the Home® Kitchen Tour.” During its 90th anniversary year in 2008, the Junior League kicked-off an effort to organize and survey its organizational records as part of the Cornerstone Capital Campaign to restore its historic headquarters in the Old Brandywine Village at 1801 N. Market Street in Wilmington. The collection includes meeting minutes, copies of the Lantern newsletter beginning in 1928, board and committee chair manuals, committee records, annual reports, portrait albums and photographs, memorabilia and programs from events, awards, audio-visual media and scrapbooks.

The Junior League of Wilmington has a long tradition of supporting literacy and education programs which includes sending volunteers into local schools and community centers. The League has supported literacy projects at Woodlawn Library, East Side Charter School, Read Aloud Delaware, and Ministry of Caring.

"By donating the Junior League of Wilmington’s archives collection to the University of Delaware Library, over ninety years of records are made available for research from one of the oldest and strongest women’s organization in the country,” commented Lynn Bouscaren, President. “We are extremely proud of our heritage and have taken great care to preserve our history.”

The records of the Junior League of Wilmington complement the archival collections of several other Delaware clubs and organizations in Special Collections. Susan Brynteson, vice provost and May Morris Director of Libraries stated, “The Library collection have supported student research projects, local historians, and scholars who specialize in the contributions of civic volunteer groups and special interest clubs for recreation, education, or community welfare. The University of Delaware Library can help support the understanding of the important role these organizations have served in the history of Delaware.” 

Brandywine House, a group living facility for the elderly, and the Wilmington Senior Center are two important programs established and supported by the Junior League of Wilmington.

"The addition of the Junior League papers to Special Collections is an exciting development that will strengthen the Library's already outstanding holdings in the records of local women's voluntary associations. I regularly refer students and colleagues to Special Collections for research in women's organizational history, and will look forward to telling them about this rich new resource,” observed Anne Boylan, professor of History and Women’s Studies at the University of Delaware.

Club archives of women’s organizations are especially represented in the holdings in Special Collections, including records of the New Century clubs of Newark and Milford; the Woman’s Club of Claymont; the League of Women Voters of Newark; and the Newark, Mill Creek, and Wilmington branches and state division of the American Association of University Women.  Other club archives at the University of Delaware Library are from groups such as the Torch Club, the Newark Music Society, the English Speaking Union, and the Lincoln Club of Delaware.

Left to right:  L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin, Librarian, Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library and Dr. Anne Boylan, Professor, Departments of History and Women’s Studies, University of Delaware, reviewing some of the records of the Junior League of Wilmington.












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