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Preserving Healthy Habits

Children in the Nutrition Class at the Junior League Nutrition Center show off homemade costumes to put on a play during 1928 Mardi Gras for family, teachers and friends on the benefits of good nutrition.

Photo provided by: Harvard University - Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

Even with just a cursory overview of newspaper headlines from 1920’s New Orleans, one is able to track the arc of growth within the early Junior League of New Orleans. One of the first mentions of the Junior League comes in 1923 with a “Dear Diana” society column of the New Orleans Item-Tribune. Though the piece spends some time on the “ravishing mauve velvet hat with violets at the brim” worn by one founding member, “Dear Diana” goes on to describe the spirit of service and welfare that would imbue the efforts of the women who brought the Junior League to the city: “Already our chapter-to-be has started working for the Kingsley House, the Child’s Welfare, the Day Nursery, and the Y.W.C.A.,” the columnist proudly shares. Little could Diana know (or perhaps she had a hunch) that JLNO would continue to grow and serve the New Orleans area with an even wider variety of community partners over the next 94 years.

In the latter part of the decade, items in the Times-Picayune and the national Junior League Magazine document our League’s growth into the organization closely resembling the modern JLNO. This coverage includes the 1927 opening of the Nutrition Center in the French Quarter to provide recreational opportunities, nutrition education and health care to malnourished children. In addition to nutrition programs for these children, the Nutrition Center offered classes in dance, sewing and modeling, as well as opportunities for the more “dramatically minded."

Though the Junior League has not yet staged revivals of the Nutrition Center’s 1928 productions of The Little Vegetable Men and The Land of Health, JLNO continues this legacy of supporting underserved mothers and children, training volunteers, and improving the community through dedicated effort and programs such as Kids in the Kitchen and partnerships with organizations like Edible School Yard.



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