Our National History
Marion Stubbs Thomas founded Jack and Jill of America, Inc. January 24, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with twenty mothers. The meeting focused on the idea of bringing together African-American children in an environment that fostered social and cultural enrichment.
The meeting ideas and new relationships spread to New York City, where a similar organization was started in 1939. One year later, in March of 1940, a third club was formed in Washington, D.C. In 1944, after four successful years in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, enthusiasm and interest in Jack and Jill spread westward. Thus, Jack and Jill, which began as a local group, became an inter-city association. In 1946, Jack and Jill of America, Inc. became a National Organization and was incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware. In 1952 the first chapters west of the Mississippi were formed in New Orleans, LA and Houston, TX.
Between the first meeting in 1938 and July 2012, Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated has grown from 1 chapter in 1 state to 224 chapters across 36 states and the District of Columbia with 11,500 members.
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 children and families in communities across the United States. In 2006, the Foundation embarked on “Rebuild America”. In partnering with Habitat for Humanity, The Jack and Jill of America Foundation’s Rebuild America project has built and refurbished three homes in New Orleans, LA in the South Central Region, Chicago, Illinois in the Mid-West Region, and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the Eastern Region.
Through the years, Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated 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, Jr. Center for Social Change, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Mental Health for Children, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, Research for Rheumatic Fever, Children’s Defense Fund, Boys and Girls Clubs, and March of Dimes.
Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated is divided into seven regions for administrative purposes. Each region has a Director, Treasurer, Secretary, and 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 moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Today, the national office is headquartered in historic downtown Washington, DC.
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 Biennial National Convention in New York City. This Diamond Jubilee theme “Bridges into the Millennium” set the tone for the urgency we faced individually and collectively in preparation for the year 2000. In 2012, Jack and Jill celebrated 75 years of service at the 40th National Convention in its birthplace of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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 Stubbs 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 felicity, friendship; and focus on raising responsible and cultivated children who will graduate from Jack and Jill enriched, encouraged, educated, and empowered to be successful in the world.
“Let’s work, let’s play, let’s live together.”
“To support the aims of the National Organization”
- provide social, cultural, and educational opportunities for youth
- create a medium of contact for children this will stimulate growth and development
- provide children a constructive educational, cultural, civic, health, recreational, and social program
- nurture future African-American leaders
- aid mothers in learning more about their children by careful study
- seek for all children the same advantages which we desire for our own
- support national legislation aimed at bettering the conditions of all children