Jack and Jill of America, Inc. was founded January 24, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Marion Stubbs Thomas. In 1946, the National Organization was incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware. Since that meeting in 1938, chapters have been organized across the entire United States and as of December 1998, there are 199 chapters in 35 states and the District of Columbia. The Jack and Jill National website can be found by clicking here.
In 1966, the organization created its own foundation, The Jack and Jill of America Foundation, which was incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois, January 1968. The Foundation has been responsible for the origin and funding of a large number of educational and charitable projects benefiting the young. Aside from the Foundation, the chapters are responsible for assisting and promoting local charities and programs.
Through the years, Jack and Jill of America, Inc. has made large contributions to other organizations and projects, namely: the Hungry of Ethiopia through Africare, The United Negro College Fund, PUSH, The Martin Luther King Center for Social Change, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Mental Health for Children, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, Research for Rheumatic Fever and others.
Jack and Jill of America, Inc. is divided into seven regions for administrative purposes. Each region has a Regional Director, a Secretary-Treasurer, a Foundation Member-at-Large and is represented on the National Executive Board of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
In 1981, a National Office was established in Atlanta, Georgia headed by an Executive Secretary for the purpose of carrying on the day-to-day business of the corporation.
In 1994, the National Headquarters was purchased in Alexandria, Virginia.
A Strategic Planning Committee was mobilized (August 1994) and charged with developing a Strategic Plan for the organization to consider at the 1996 Biannual Convention.
At the 32nd Biannual National Convention, Marion Wright-Edelman was initiated as the first Honorary Member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
The National body celebrated the 60th anniversary and 33rd Biannual National Convention in New York City with the greatest number of attendees. This Diamond Jubilee theme "Bridges into the Millennium" set the tone for the urgency we face individually and collectively in preparation for the year 2000.
The following statement was taken from an article by Mrs. Marion Stubbs Thomas (National Founder), which appeared in the first issue of the official publication of Jack and Jill of America, Up the Hill. She tells in simple and beautiful language of the state and rapid growth of Jack and Jill. She also expresses the ideals, which Jack and Jill have followed since its initiation.
"It is with deep and, I hope, pardonable pride that I look back over the first ten years in the life of Jack and Jill. When the first little group of us organized in January 1938, in Philadelphia, we were seeking to simulate a social and cultural relationship between our children. When I contacted the mothers and suggested a meeting to discuss plans for a new club, they were all enthusiastic and responded in a manner which was heartwarming. Little did we dream at the time that this idea which was so important and inspiring to us would grow to such proportions. As new members were welcomed, and then new chapters formed, the aims and ideals of Jack and Jill were strengthened, always with our children as the focal point. To us as mothers, it has become a means of furthering an inherent and natural desire - the desire to bestow upon our children all the opportunities possible for a normal and graceful approach to beautiful adulthood. It is intensely satisfying to predict a nationwide group of mothers and children bound together by similar interests and ideals. As we grow in numbers and achievements, may we always keep before us the lofty principals upon which Jack and Jill of America was founded."
Since that day about which Marion Thomas wrote, January 24, 1938, Jack and Jill of America has avalanched into a strong national organization. The story of its growth is one of amity and felicity.
From the meeting of those twenty mothers in Philadelphia, the idea of bringing together the children in a social and cultural relationship spread to New York City, where a similar organization was started in 1939. The third club was formed in March 1940, in Washington, D.C. Thus, Jack and Jill, which began as a local group, became an inter-city association.
After four successful years in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, enthusiasm and interest in Jack and Jill spread westward, and in 1944 a chapter was formed in Pittsburgh.
Between 1944 and June 1946, Jack and Jill groups expanded to ten with the addition of the following chapters:
- Buffalo, New York
- Columbus, Ohio
- Durham, North Carolina
- Memphis, Tennessee.