10 Decades of Community Leadership: The 1920s

As we celebrate our centennial, Junior League of Nashville President Jenny Barker takes us on a journey through the League’s history of community leadership and devotion to Nashville by highlighting a decade each month, starting with the 1920s to the present day.



Starting with the 1920s in July, I invite you to consider how JLN and the backdrop of women’s social history have evolved through our first century. What was happening in the world as Cornelia Keeble Ewing founded JLN in 1922?

The Roaring Twenties brought a new feeling of self-confidence and capability among women. Their public roles expanded during WWI and continued to strengthen after earning the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment.

A growing middle class enjoyed new conveniences such as Model Ts, refrigerators, and radios. Bobbed hair and shorter hemlines made popular by flappers shifted how women dressed, and flapper culture changed how women acted.

In a decade named for its carefree high spirits and sense of fun, the Junior League held great appeal by combining an opportunity to do admirable community work while fostering friendships.

As Dorothy Whitney Straight, the first president of the Association of Junior Leagues, said in 1922:

“In accepting membership in the Junior League, a woman steps forthwith into the wider citizenship of her city…It is only as we add our contributions of service that we can be rightly said to have won our final citizenship papers.”

As we look back on our history, I hope you will find inspiration in being part of a century-old movement that has had such a profound effect on modern life.

Jenny Barker
President, 2021-2022

Dig deeper into the 1920s:

Originally published in the July 6, 2021 Tuesday News