Jack & Jill of America, Inc. was founded January 24, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from a meeting of 20 mothers by the leadership of Marion Stubbs Thomas with the idea of bringing together children in a social and cultural environment. In 1964, as more groups became active, bylaws were drawn up and incorporated under the laws of Delaware. The organization was a nonprofit family organization by mothers of children between the ages of 2 and 19 holding membership. Jack & Jill celebrated its 50th Golden Anniversary in January 1988.
The organization continues on, dedicating its resources to improving the quality of life, particularly African-American children. In the first issue of Up the Hill, National Founder Marion Stubbs Thomas reflected on Jack and Jill’s first ten years.
“…When the first little group of us organized in January 1938, 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 (the) 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, 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 principles upon which Jack and Jill of America was founded.”
After that rainy Friday night meeting in Philadelphia on January 24, 1938, the idea of those 20 mothers to bring together children in a social and cultural relationship spread first to New York City then to Washington, D.C. Thus, Jack and Jill became an inter-city association. Between 1944 and 1946, the group expanded to ten. On June 1, 1946, representatives of eight of the ten groups met in Philadelphia to consider organizing into a national organization. The purpose and aims were set forth, committees established, and new officers were elected and installed.
At the Second National Convention in Columbus, Ohio in 1947, five new Chapters were granted membership. Up the Hill, the first official publication was published in May 1948. The Constitution and Bylaws were drawn up and set forth these objectives: 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. Jack and Jill of America was incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware on August 28, 1947. At the Third National Convention in Washington, D.C. in 1948, the observance of Jack and Jill Day by all Chapters was instituted; the National Meeting was extended to two days; and all past presidents were made members of the Advisory Council.