Jack and Jill Story


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, UP THE HILL, of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated. She tells in simple and beautiful language of the start and rapid growth of Jack and Jill. She also expressed the ideas 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 1939 in Philadelphia, we were seeking to stimulate a social and cultural relationship between our children. When I contacted the mothers and suggested a meeting to discuss plans for our new club, they were all enthusiastic and responded in a manner which was heart-warming. 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 a 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 principle upon which Jack and Jill of America was founded.”


Since the day 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 amity and felicity.


As a result of 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, DC. Thus, Jack and Jill, which began as a local group became an inner-city association.


Between 1944 and June 1946, Jack and Jill groups expanded to ten with the addition of the following chapters: Baltimore, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; Buffalo, New York; Columbus, Ohio; Durham, North Carolina; and Memphis, Tennessee. Mrs. Dorothy Wright, who was president of the Philadelphia club felt that Jack and Jill had reached a point when consideration or organizing these groups into a national organization was indicated.


The Constitution and By-laws were drawn up by Attorney Charlotte Pinkett and Jack and Jill was incorporated under the law of the State of Delaware on August 28, 1946. The objectives set forth were: to create a medium of contact for the children and to provide a constructive educational, recreational, and social program for the children and their parents. “The Research for Rheumatic Fever” was selected as the first national project.


In 1961, the Philadelphia Chapter hosted the first Regional Teen Conference. The concept was so successful that Teen Conferences in other areas followed the pattern set forth by the Eastern Region. In 1953 at the National Convention in Memphis, Tennessee, the National organization established seven regions: Eastern, Central, Far West, Mid-Atlantic Mid- Western, South Central and Southeastern. Guidelines were also developed for future Teen Conferences.


For several years the regional plan was discussed during the annual convention. In 1957 at the National Convention in San Francisco, the Regional Mothers’ Conferences were voted on by the delegates from their regions. As a result, future National Conventions were scheduled biennially and Regional Mothers’ Conferences were scheduled for the alternate years. Teen Conferences would continue to convene annually.


As we grew as an organization, so did we grow in our programmatic thrust and service to the community.


In 1968 the Jack and Jill of America Foundation was brought into existence because our organization felt that monies given to charity must be channeled in a way to most effectively eliminate the contemporary obstacles that confront Blacks in society. Chapters pledged their support of the Foundation, as well as, instituting programs on the local level to raise the consciousness of their children. The years brought about the adoption of national themes geared towards satisfying the Foundation of our family structure.


In 1960, a National Office was established in Atlanta, Georgia. Mrs. Patricia Cannon was engaged by the National Executive Board to fill the position of National Executive Secretary.


In January 1988, Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated celebrated its Fiftieth Golden Anniversary in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the organization.


In July 1990, at the National Convention in Memphis, Tennessee, the delegates voted on the site for the National Headquarters. In 1992 at the National Convention in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, the National Organization purchased a national headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. Mrs. Patricia Canon retired at this convention but will be remembered for her unlimited knowledge and resources for Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated. Our then National President Nellie Thornton installed the First International Chapter in the Republic of Germany on December 5, 1992.


We’ve come a long way since those 10 original chapters. We are now 220 chapters strong with a family membership of over 30,000. We’ve come back from the black affectations of the 40’s through the apathy of the 50’s, experiencing the volatile cries of the 60’s and the confusion of the 70’s, to stand ready and able to meet the challenges of the 80’s and create visions for the 90’s.


Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated is strong and fervent in its belief that above everything else our children are our future.


The objectives of this non-profit organization are:


To create a medium of contact for children which will stimulate growth and development
To provide for children a constructive educational, cultural, civic, recreational and social program


The aims of the organization are:


To aid mothers in learning more about their children by careful study.
To seek for our children the same advantages which we desire for our own.
To support all National legislation aimed at bettering the conditions of all children.