The History of the League

In the early 19th century when single women began coming to Minneapolis seeking employment, they were often in their early teens and had no place to stay.

Archbishop John Ireland took his concerns about these young women to a small group of Catholic laywomen and asked for their help in providing shelter for these newly arrived workers. Responding to this challenge, the League of Catholic Women was born on November 11, 1911.

Since that day, the LCW has sought solutions to problems facing women in every decade of our history. From the beginning, the League has operated as an independent non-profit, unaffiliated with any particular parish or archdiocese.

As such, the LCW is funded solely by its own members and generous supporters who believe in its mission. Though rooted in the Catholic Christian tradition, the League welcomes all women who share our desire to open doors of opportunity for women and who are interested in forming friendships with a variety of women in the Twin Cities area.

After occupying rented spaces since 1911, the League finally purchased its own headquarters at 207 South Ninth Street in 1950. This beloved property served as a home for the for the League for 65 years. In later years, it proved to be no longer financially viable and was sold. In late 2014, the LCW began operating out of an office at the beautiful Woman’s Club in downtown Minneapolis. The missions of these two entities, founded within four years of each other, are very compatible as they both serve the interests of women in our community.

A Sampling of Past League Community Outreach Services

  • St. Mary’s Hall, 1912-1945, residence for single working women
  • Margaret Barry House, 1913-1963, settlement house for immigrants
  • Pathway Group Homes (in various forms), 1966-1983, a series of homes for troubled adolescents
  • Tuesday Club, 1974 and continuing, hospitality and nourishment for senior citizens
  • Women/Becoming, 1977-2005, a personal empowerment program for women
  • AIDS Ministry, 1993-2003, outreach to women with AIDS
  • By Your Side Mentoring, 1994-2012, walking with single mothers as they further their education
  • First Impression, 1998-2014, furnishing free professional clothing for women entering or returning to the work place

Many of the League’s more comprehensive programs were carried on with the encouragement and cooperation of Hennepin County.

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