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Junior Achievement Records

Identifier: MSS048

Scope and Contents

The Junior Achievement Records document the history of the organization beginning in the 1920s. Although the early history is vague, minutes and bulletins published by the Junior Achievement Bureau of the Eastern States League help fill some of the gaps. By the 1950s JA begins to increase its staff and information about its programs and activities increases. Staff correspondence and training materials appear in the 1960s. By the 1980s more information about area relations is documented. An appendix is also included with this document listing the Junior Achievement Areas and their locations.

Board of Directors Records, 1921-2000, is the best place to find a broad overview of the history of the organization. The minutes coupled with the Springfield Foundation materials tell most of the story of JA. Although the minutes are incomplete, missing the first two years of JA’s existence and four years in the 1990s, they best tell the story of JA documenting major changes in the organization and its programs. The annual corporation minutes are filed separately and are interspersed throughout the board of directors’ minute books. The corporation minutes help with the understanding of the area relations as well as major trends in the organization. Senior Management/Executive Office Records, 1950-2003, contain information about the leadership and general operations of the JA Headquarters. This series includes information on JA Staff training and conferences, senior management team minutes, and research and planning on broad-based JA activities such as ImpACT and Vision ’99. The records include files belonging to the President, Chief Operating Officer, and Team Leaders. Other important information includes biographical information national leadership including staff and board members. The majority of the information documents the organization after 1960.

Team Records, 1920-2008, contain the records generated by the teams at the JA National Headquarters. Each team is responsible for a specific aspect of JA’s program. The Junior Achievement Headquarters staff is divided into eight teams: Area Relations, Communications and Marketing, Education, Finance, Human Resources, Information Services, Public Affairs, and Resource Generations.

Area Relations Team files document the relationship between Junior Achievement, Inc. and its franchised areas. The majority of the information from the Area Relations Team is from specific areas. Arranged chronologically in alphabetical order by city and country, the area correspondence files often contain correspondence, area board minutes, and information on how different JA programs operate in a particular location. Area Financial Reports, filed annually are found in the Finance Team Records. For a listing of Junior Achievement Areas and locations, please consult the appendix. This series also contains information on conferences and meetings for the area staff and subject correspondence related to the activities of the area relations staff.

Communications and Marketing Team files include information about how JA markets itself to the public. Records of three of JA’s major public events, National Business Hall of Fame, National Business Leadership Conference, and JA Golf Tournament, are part of this series. Area Marketing Plans from each area to the national office describe an area’s plan for marketing and fund raising. Subject correspondence from staff on various events and speeches are also part of this series.

Education Team files contain the materials JA takes into the schools, as well as their development, evaluation, and changes. This is the largest portion of JA’s records and documents all of JA’s programs and their evolution. The series has four main components: general education correspondence about the team and planning; JA programs, what JA takes into the classroom and how it developed; school credit and JA’s entrance into the classroom; school to work, a program for taking skills from the classroom to the workplace; and surveys on JA’s educational programs. The majority of the records are found in the JA Program Files. Divided by education level, they contain information on college, elementary, middle school, and high school programs developed by JA, as well as an adult program for citizens of the former Soviet Union developed by JA International. Included in these records are texts, manuals, consultant kits, the National JA Company Conference (NAJAC), reports, surveys, newsletters, and software information.

Finance Team is responsible for maintaining the financial record of the organization. These files include audits for JA, Inc. and area financial information. Materials included from the areas are audits, tax returns, and reports on finances submitted to JA, Inc. for determining the area franchise fees.

Human Resources Team information includes information about work life at JA. Employee training materials and seminar packets are the main bulk of this team’s information.

Information Services Team materials include statistical information on programs and areas operating JA programs.

Public Affairs Team records include press and media releases about JA programs. Also included are scrapbooks of newspaper articles about JA programs and activities.

Resource Generations Team is the fundraising branch of JA. This team is responsible for securing the funding for the programs that JA operates. These files include correspondence, fundraising information, proposals, campaign materials, and Alumni Association information. Information for smaller, more localized events like bowl-a-thons is included in these records.

Publications, 1929-2004, include a variety of information published by and about Junior Achievement. These publications include JA’s newsletters, magazines, and annual reports. It also includes biographies of the founders of JA. Other publications include manuals and handbooks for JA staff in the areas of fund raising, area relations, marketing, and procedures.

Scrapbooks, 1958-1990, include four scrapbooks that document different areas of JA. Two of the scrapbooks are from Junior Achievement Areas in Indiana and Iowa. These include newspaper clippings and some programs from these areas. The Something Else…Something Better: A JA Company scrapbook was created by a JA company documenting their activities and the progress of the company. The last scrapbook on the middle school program, The Economics of Staying in School, was created as part of an award nomination. The scrapbook highlights how the program works and the different teaching methods it incorporates.

Photographs, 1920s-2004, include posed and candid photographs of JA activities. A majority of the photographs come from the conferences sponsored by JA including the NAJAC Conference and the National Training Seminar in the 1980s. Other photographs include a selection of education and historical images.


  • 1916 - 2016


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public without restriction. The copyright laws of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) govern the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Biographical / Historical

Junior Achievement (originally called the Boys’ and Girls’ Bureau of the Eastern States League) began in 1919 as a program to educate youth about business. Education in the United States during this period experienced significant changes. One of those changes lay in the idea of vocational education, a hands-on approach to teaching in the public schools. In the wake of the vocational education movement, several new organizations for children and youth emerged. The activities of these organizations coupled with the lessons taught in school allowed members to practice what they were taught and understand critical skills for life after high school.

The concept for an organization to teach youth about business originated at the Eastern States Agricultural and Industrial Exposition in 1916. The Boys’ and Girls’ Club Committee of the Eastern States League agreed to conduct research on the feasibility of creating such an organization. Committee chairman and president of AT&T, Theodore Vail, along with Horace Moses, president of Strathmore Paper Company, worked with the committee to solidify the concept and raise support by convincing others of the program’s value.

The future of our country depends upon making every individual young and old, fully realize the obligations and responsibilities belong to citizenship…The future of each individual rests in the individual, providing each is given a fair and proper education and training in the useful things of life…Habits of life are formed in youth…What we need in this country now…is to teach the growing generations to realize that thrift and economy, coupled with industry, are necessary now as they were in past generations. -Theodore Vail, ca. 1918

In 1919 the Boys’ and Girls’ Bureau (changed to the Junior Achievement Bureau in 1920 and to Junior Achievement, Inc. in 1926) opened its national headquarters in Springfield, Massachusetts, and hired its first director, O. H. Benson, to oversee the daily operations of the organization. Benson, whose experience as the Director of Agriculture Extension and leadership in the development of 4-H Clubs, made him an excellent choice.

The JA program developed as after-school clubs for 8-12 year olds that operated like miniature businesses. Each club, in order to be recognized by the national headquarters, had to meet certain requirements. These requirements included regular meetings, an adult advisor, a minimum membership of five, a program plan, and student officers to oversee production. Since the clubs operated like a business, members set wages and made money through the sale of their products. The clubs were also encouraged to raise capital through the sale of shares. Initially, the clubs worked through agencies such as churches, scouting organizations, settlement houses, and YMCAs. These organizations provided meeting space and an adult advisor. Funding came through the clubs themselves and the national organization.

In the late 1920s, JA made two changes that would have a major impact on the future of the organization: the addition of 16-21 year olds as members and the switch from smaller areas to metropolitan centers. Rather than eliminate the program for younger children, JA piloted its new program in New York City. Called Metro JA, the New York program received a charter in New York State, but operated as a franchised area of the JA Headquarters in Springfield. In 1937 Charles Hook, president of the American Rolling Mill Company and president of the National Association of Manufacturers, spoke at a Metro JA awards conference bringing the New York program to national attention with his endorsement. This marked the beginning the spread of JA beyond the East Coast. Metro JA received nation-wide inquiries about how to start similar programs in other locations. As the New York staff became more proactive, a shift in power occurred.

In 1942 Horace Moses resigned as president of JA and was succeeded by Charles Hook. After a ten-year period of inactivity during the 1930s, JA began to experience tremendous growth. The JA Clubs, increasingly known as companies, spread throughout the country under the guidance of Metro JA. In order to accommodate the new focus of JA, the Metro JA board merged with the JA Headquarters board and the new board took over national expansion efforts and the servicing of the JA areas. JA, Inc. remained a Massachusetts corporation, but the national headquarters moved to New York City when the Metro JA staff formally became the national staff. As expansion of the program into other parts of the country became the goal of JA, the headquarters’ staff increased to meet the demands of the growing organization. In order to meet the needs of student membership and encourage cooperation, the National Junior Achievement Company Conference (NAJAC) began in the same year. The week-long conference measured JA’s effectiveness through student competition and discussion while featuring well-known business personalities. NAJAC allowed students the chance to interact with each other and professionals and introduce the businessmen to the benefits of JA.

The 1940s also saw one other important development: the entrance of JA into the schools. Although this first appearance was to only introduce students to JA through assemblies, it proved a valuable relationship with future ramifications. In the following decades JA further evolved into an educational program with texts and manuals geared to teach youth about business in a capitalist economy. The JA Company, still its only program, continued to grow. The expansion of JA necessitated a change in the relationship between JA, Inc. and the JA areas. By the end of the 1950s, JA began to see international franchises appear.

After fifty years of operation, JA’s ability to adapt to the changing needs of its student population had not ceased. The 1970s marked a time of dramatic change for JA. In 1975 JA moved into its new National Headquarters in Stanford, CT, and became a Connecticut corporation. The JA Company experienced great success, but only reached a portion of high school students as an after-school activity. The new president, Richard Maxwell, chose to focus new research on other age groups. In 1976 JA entered the Junior High classroom through Project Business. For the first time, JA reached students through the use of businesspersons acting as consultants teaching business skills in the classroom. Other in-school programs followed close behind. JA introduced Business Basics for the fifth and sixth grades and Applied Economics (now JA Economics) for high school. In 1987 the National Headquarters relocated to Colorado Springs, CO. As the new JA Center opened, new directions in education evolved. By the end of the 1990s, JA successfully piloted new elementary programs and offered business education programs for elementary, middle, and high school students.

Organizational Structure

The governance of Junior Achievement, Inc. rests with three bodies: the Members of the Corporation, the Board of Directors, and the Executive Committee. The duties of each of these groups continue to evolve and adapt to changes in the organization and in classroom education. Other units of involved with operation of Junior Achievement are the franchised areas and the parent organization, Junior Achievement International.

Junior Achievement originally operated as a bureau of the Eastern States Agricultural and Industrial League. The officers and board of the League assumed the responsibility for the operation of the Junior Achievement Bureau and its program. In 1926 the Junior Achievement Bureau separated from the Eastern States League forming its own corporation and becoming Junior Achievement, Inc. It operated under the management of its own officers and board of directors. As JA expanded its work, it added permanent staff to coordinate the work of JA. From its beginnings, the organizational structure of Junior Achievement was set up much like that of a business.

The Members of the Corporation are similar to the shareholders in a for profit corporation. As recipients of the services offered by JA, the franchised areas are the customers to which the organization is responsible. Each area elects representatives based on the number of student achievers in that area. Representatives from the different areas gather annually for the corporation meeting dealing with policy and the approval of franchise agreements.

Prior to 1970 the Board of Directors consisted of the same people who acted as the Members of the Corporation. Between 1926 and 1942 the board took responsibility for the direct management and policy decisions of JA. The majority of the time, the board members attended the meeting by proxy. As meetings became more difficult to attend by a large, national board, the organization became inactive on the national level during much of the 1930s. In 1942 the Board of Directors officially delegated its power to a smaller Executive Committee. The board chose to meet annually to ratify the committee’s decisions while the Executive Committee met monthly to oversee policy decisions and direct the management of the organization. The chief staff officer, hired by the committee, had the responsibility of implementing its policy decisions. This structure remained in place until 1970.

In 1971 reorganization occurred. Membership of the Corporation and its Board of Directors totaled 450 members each. The governing bodies of the organization decided this structure was not the most effective way to lead the organization. The new structure dramatically reduced the number of members serving on the Board of Directors while the membership of the corporation remained the same. With a membership reduced to 60 and the number of meetings per year increased to four, the Board of Directors replaced the Executive Committee as the chief policy-making body.

The president and chief executive officer of JA, Inc. is directly responsible to the Board of Directors. This position is the direct line of communication between the governing body of the organization and the National Headquarters staff, who are responsible for carrying out the Board’s policies. The staff has grown from a small group that included a secretary, treasurer, and field personnel into a large, team-based organization. The National Headquarters located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, houses the president of JA and staff. They work to carry out the mission and goals set forth by the board. The headquarters staff is responsible for providing service to the areas, fund raising, curriculum development, and keeping the public informed of new programs and directions of JA.

The relationship between the operating areas and JA Headquarters continues to evolve over time. In the 1940s when JA first began to make expansion its primary goal, the national headquarters controlled all of the operations nationwide. It opened bank accounts in each new area in the name of Junior Achievement and paid all of the expenses of the area from that account. During this period, the funds raised in an area did not necessarily go to that area. The national organization bore the responsibility of all the fundraising and JA leaders believed the donor’s money should be spent in the place where it could influence the most students. By 1946 the areas began expressing dissatisfaction with the arrangement. In order to allow the areas more autonomy, the responsibility for raising the funds for an area’s operations shifted to the individual areas. The national headquarters received 20% of all funds raised by the areas to maintain its operations and to give the areas a sense of responsibility to the goals and policies of JA. This number was later reduced to 10% and the country divided into five regions of responsibility. Regional boards acted as advisors to the areas without power over the areas and nominated members for the Executive Committee. Junior Achievement, Inc. is a parent corporation with franchises nation wide. A signed operating agreement between JA, Inc. and an area detail the responsibilities of each.

One other branch of Junior Achievement was Junior Achievement International, Inc. JA’s international efforts began as early as 1955 with Junior Achievement of Canada. As more countries requested JA programs, JA responded by assisting with the creation of similar programs throughout the world, and eventually created an international department in 1989. In 1994 the organization saw that a separate body was needed to govern the activities of the new international organizations and formed JA International. According to the original operating agreement between the two organizations, JA International operated much like other franchised areas in the sense that it paid JA, Inc. a franchise fee for the use of names, programs, and materials. It was also an autonomous organization with its own board of directors and executive committee. On July 1, 2004, Junior Achievement, Inc. and Junior Achievement International combined to form JA Worldwide, the existing JA International headquarters in Colorado Springs became JA USA. Headquartered in Boston, MA, JA Worldwide operates 145 Area Offices in the United States and serves approximately 100 member nations.


Francomano, Joseph and Wayne and Darryl Lavitt, Junior Achievement: A History. Colorado Springs: Junior Achievement, Inc., 1988.

Junior Achievement, Inc. Homepage:


230 Cubic Feet (222 cartons, 6 document boxes, 4 flat boxes, and 1 roll), 27 videotapes, 15 filmstrips, 38 cassette tapes)


Junior Achievement, Inc. (JA) was founded in 1919 as the Boys’ and Girls’ Bureau of the Eastern States League. Embracing the concept of “learning by doing,” the leaders of the Bureau dedicated themselves to teaching urban youth proper business practice and methods. They accomplished this through hands-on training in management and production. For much of its history, JA used one program to teach business to high school students. Beginning in the 1970s, JA started to expand its programs to include Kindergarten, Middle School, and college students. Over the last 20 years, the programs of JA have changed immensely. While the face of JA has changed, the mission of teaching youth about business remains at the core of Junior Achievement. Today, JA continues to be one of the most influential business education organizations worldwide

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by Junior Achievement, Colorado Springs, CO. February 2001, A2001/02-019; May 2008, A2007/08-026; September 2008, A2008/09-039; September 2009, A2009/10-007; and December 2011, A2011/12-024. Materials created by Junior Acheivement Inc have been removed from Junior Achievement of Central Indiana Records and added to this series.


Junior Achievement Records, 1916-2008
Debra Brookhart, Denise Rayman
April 2005, October 2015, May 2017
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Philanthropic Studies Archives Repository

IUPUI University Library
755 W. Michigan St.
Room 0133
Indianapolis IN 46202 USA