Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MC 610: T-362: Vt-12: MP-61

Additional records of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, 1877-2005


Addenda to the records of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, a non-profit social and educational agency in Boston, Massachusetts, including correspondence, brochures, historical sketches, newsletters, photographs and slides, press releases, and clippings.


  • Creation: 1877-2005

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Most of the collection is open for research. Folders #27.5-27.17 are closed until January 1, 2074.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Women's Educational and Industrial Union is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


17.95 linear feet ((34 file boxes, 2 files boxes of publications, 7 card file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 1 oversize folder, 26 photograph folders, 2 folio+ photograph folders)

These addenda to the records of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union overlap considerably with earlier records donated previously, for which preliminary inventories are available online (B-8, M-89, and 81-M237 -- 82-M11). There are sizeable gaps in the more recent records. Audiovisual material has been removed and cataloged separately as T-362 and Vt-12, and MP-61. Additional material received in 2019 (accession number 2019-M189 was added to the collection in August 2020. These materials are housed in #43.1-43.9, PD.14-PD.26. All other files remain in the same order.

Series I, HISTORY, ADMINISTRATION, AND ORGANIZATION, 1894-2004 (#1.1-8.7, 4CB), consists of historical sketches; clippings; leases; bills of sale; by-laws; constitution; administrative records; trustees and committee meeting minutes, agendas, notes, and correspondence.

Subseries A, History and administration, 1904-2002 (#1.1-6.2, 4CB), contains historical sketches and clippings related to various aspects of the history of the Union, including its committees, departments, shops, and services. Also included is correspondence relating to and a draft of S. Agnes Donham's History of the WEIU (ca.1955). Leases, bills of sale, building specifications, etc., document the history of buildings occupied or owned by the Union. Correspondence of the executive director, employee manuals, reports, staff meeting minutes and agendas, etc., document the daily operation of the Union. Minutes of the President's Council (1904-1937), which served in an advisory capacity to the president and board of trustees, document decisions made on daily operating procedures. Also included are by-laws, constitution, articles of incorporation, and a certificate of organization, as well as board of trustees meeting minutes, agendas, memos and correspondence, annual reports, annual meeting minutes, financial reports, etc. These records document the evolving structure and policies of the Union, but are rather scattered. See also Series II, Subseries A (Employment) and Subseries B (Social Services) for departmental annual reports. Following the histories, articles of incorporation, and constitution and by-laws, the subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Committees, 1894-2004 (#6.3-8.7), consists of committee meeting minutes. Committee names changed frequently in order to document the shifting interests of the Union. Examples of committees include the handwork committee, law and thrift committee, legislative committee, school lunch committee, and social work committee. For earlier records see B-8, M-89, and 81-M237 - 82-M11; there are gaps in most record types. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Series II, SERVICES, 1882-2004 (#8.8-37.3, 10CB-12CB, 20CB-21CB, PD.1-PD.4), consists of clippings, flyers, program notices, invitations, brochures, departmental annual and other reports, training material, proposals, correspondence, conference material, newsletters, calendars of events, photographs, press releases, financial records, etc. This series is arranged in three subseries by department function, since department and/or bureau names changed frequently over time.

Subseries A, Employment, 1910-2004 (#8.8-23.8, 10CB-12CB, 20CB-21CB, PD.1-PD.2), contains annual and financial reports, placement and statistical reports, brochures, and studies created by the Appointment Bureau, successor to the Employment Bureau. Also included are records of Career Services, successor to the Appointment Bureau: annual reports; project proposals; studies; program notices; correspondence, memos, notes, etc. Records related to the Amelia Earhart Award, sponsored annually by Career Services, include correspondence; announcements; brochures; flyers; invitations; speeches; and photographs. Notable award winners include Julia Child, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Liz Walker. This subseries also contains annual reports, flyers, brochures, training materials, photographs, etc., of both the Emergency Employment Bureau and Homemaker - Home Health Aide Services. The records document the Union's effort at providing employment and vocational services to women in the service industry, business, and professional fields, and are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Social services, 1956-2002 (#23.9-29.7, PD.3), consists of correspondence, memos, notes, annual reports, case files, program proposals and requests for funding, volunteer training materials, conference materials, publications (including the annual nursing home and long term care guide, which was published under several different titles), photographs, etc., which document the daily operations of the social service department, as well as several ongoing and proposed programs and projects. Most material documents the Companions Unlimited, Horizons Transitional Housing, and Parent Aide programs, but there is a smaller amount of material documenting the Family Day Care, Intergenerational, Looking Ahead, and Domestic Violence Advocacy programs. There are a number of gaps in the records. The subseries is arranged alphabetically, except for publications, which are arranged chronologically.

Subseries C, Membership, 1882-2003 (#29.8-37.3, PD.4), includes membership applications and brochures featuring historical vignettes; press releases, calendars of events, flyers, advertisements, photographs, and clippings which promote fundraising events and members' programs, including daytime lectures, tours, and special events, and After Five, a series of evening programs for working adults. Financial records related to capital campaigns and fund-raising events, and correspondence documenting the transfer of the Union's archives to the Schlesinger Library, are also included. The subseries is arranged alphabetically except for publicity which is arranged chronologically.

Series III, SHOPS, 1928-2000 (scattered) (#37.4-39.13, PD.5-PD.6), consists of correspondence, memos, notes, flyers, notices, meeting minutes, photographs, and reports related to the daily operation of the retail shops of the Union. Several folders of correspondence and a needlework design catalog, as well as a number of uncataloged photographs of needlework designs, document the work of the Needlework shop specifically. The bulk of the material in this series is from the 1960s and 1970s; there are few early records. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS, OVERSIZED, AND MEMORABILIA, 1877-1999 (#PD.7-PD.13f+, FD.1, OD.1, 40CB.1m - 40CB.21m), consists of photographs and slides, oversized material, and a small number of printing blocks. It is arranged in three subseries by format.

Subseries A, Photographs, 1877-1992 (#PD.7-PD.13f+), consists of photographs, lantern slides, and slides. Photographs and slides depict staff members and trustees at various meetings or events and the Union building and its shops. Lantern slides comprise a slide show of the Boston schools lunch program run by the Union. A slide show (ca.1988) and a scrapbook provide a photographic history, depicting the physical space the Union occupied, and its programs. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].

Subseries B, Oversized, 1900-1999 (#FD.1, OD.1), consists of program posters, income reports, programs, and inventory sheets removed from other series.

Subseries C, Memorabilia, 1964, 1997, undated (#40CB.1m - 40CB.21m), consists of graphic printing blocks used to print various flyers, newsletters, brochures, etc., and two buttons.

Series V, PUBLICATIONS, 1934-2002 (#41-42), consists of two newsletters published by the Union: The Bulletin and the Companions Unlimited News. The Bulletin was published monthly from ca.1934 until at least 2002, but possibly until 2006 when the Union merged with Crittenton. It provided members with notices of upcoming events, meetings, and exhibitions, advertised the Union's available services, and made requests for donations. From the 1930s through the 1950s it was alternatively titled as the Members' Notice, Notice to Members, Bulletin to Members, or Members' Bulletin, and for several years in the 1950s went untitled. It became known as The Bulletin in October 1980. It may have been preceded by an earlier publication, simply known as the Circular, although this is unclear since there is only one known copy for the year 1882-1883.

The Companions Unlimited News was published sporadically between 1982 and 1993, either monthly, bimonthly, or seasonally. It provided Companions Unlimited volunteers with news of upcoming events, notifications of orientations and workshops, reports on specific projects, and recommended books on caring for the handicapped and elderly. Because there is no separate set of reference copies of these newsletters, the archival masters are open to research. Consult the library's catalog for holdings.

Series VI. ADDENDA, 1880-2005 (#43.1-43.10, PD.14-PD.26, 44F+B) includes additional material received in 2020. Material was received loose in boxes. The bulk of this material consists of photographs of Union trustees, employees, and volunteers; Union buildings; events; Union programs, including the school lunch program, Horizons transitional housing program, Companions Unlimited, etc; clippings; annual reports; brochures and flyers; several histories of the Union, including research material and correspondence; and a scrapbook documenting the Union's Partnership Teaching program. Materials are arranged alphabetically. Folder titles were created by the archivist.


The Women's Educational and Industrial Union (Boston, Massachusetts), a non-profit social and educational agency, was founded in 1877 by Dr. Harriet Clisby, and incorporated in 1880, "to increase fellowship among women and to promote the best practical methods for securing their educational, industrial and social advancement." In order to accomplish this mission, the organization was arranged in committees or departments which throughout its history provided education and job placement services for women, social services for the needy, social programs for members, and operated a number of retail shops. These departments continued to evolve as different needs arose. In its early years, the organization gave practical help and provided training programs to and for women, teaching them how to produce marketable goods and selling their products at the Union's Handwork Shop, one of its early retail shops. Among the social services offered were legal aid for needy women (especially domestics); lunches for schools in the city of Boston; and training and placement for women, the adult blind, and other handicapped.

An early Committee on Hygiene, which provided health education and free medical treatment to women, later became the Committee on Sanitary and Industrial Conditions (investigating conditions of work in shops and industry) and still later, the Research Department. The early Employment Bureau, which began by investigating fraudulent advertisements offering lucrative work to women at home and by providing job placement services to both professional women and domestics, split into the Emergency Employment Bureau (offering placement services for cooks, laundresses, housekeepers, etc., who could only accept day work), and the Appointment Bureau (offering career counseling and placement services in business and the professions). The Emergency Appointment Bureau was reorganized as Homemaker Services, which offered household services to the chronically ill and to those with medical emergencies, and the new Career Services continued in the same vein as the Appointment Bureau. The Union's retail shops, which in the early years consisted of a tea room, lunch room, food shop, and handwork shop, expanded over time to include a children's book shop, stationery shop, needlework shop, children's shop, printing shop, magazine shop, and gift shop, among others. Profits from the Union shops were used to maintain social service and other programs until they closed in 2004.

More recent programs offered by the Social Services Department included Companions Unlimited, a volunteer program to help the elderly and handicapped of all ages; Mini Mart, a member food co-op for the elderly and handicapped offered as part of Companions Unlimited; Parent Aides, a mentoring service for young single mothers; Horizons Transitional Housing Program, a temporary housing program for battered and homeless women and their children; Family Day Care; and the department's nursing home guide, whose title has varied over the years. Other departments included Homemaker Services, Career Services, and Member Services, which offered a daytime lecture series, classes, tours and special events, and the After Five program, providing lectures on issues of current interest for young men and women. Rockport Lodge, a vacation home for low- to moderate-income women, and the Women's Rest Tour Association, now known as the Traveler's Information Exchange (a network collecting information about travel for women), were associated with the Union, as was the Industrial Credit Union, which was started by a group of Union women in 1910. The Union was supported by membership dues, donations and gifts, grants, and in part by its shops. In 2002, the Union changed its name to the Women's Union, and in 2004 sold its buildings, dedicating the income from their sales to future programs. In July 2006 the Union merged with Crittenton to become the Crittenton Women's Union, dedicated to transforming "the course of low-income women's lives so that they can attain economic independence and create better futures for themselves and their families."


The collection is arranged in six series:

  1. Series I. History, administration, and organization, 1894-2004 (#1.1-8.7, 4CB)
  2. Series II. Services, 1882-2004 (#8.8-37.3, 10CB-12CB, 20CB-21CB, PD.1-PD.4)
  3. Series III. Shops, 1928-2000 (#37.4-39.13, PD.5-PD.6)
  4. Series IV. Photographs, oversized, and memorabilia 1877-1999 (#PD.7-PD.13f+, FD.1, OD.1, 40CB.1m - 40CB.21m)
  5. Series V. Publications, 1934-2002 (41-42)
  6. Series VI. Addenda, 1880-2005 (#43.1-43.10, PD.14-PD.26, 44F+B)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 85-M280, 92-M54, 94-M173, 2002-M104, 2004-M130. Accession number 2019-M189 was added to the collection in 2020.

These additional records of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Women's Educational and Industrial Union between 1985 and 2019.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Records of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, 1894-1955 (B-8), Additional records of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, 1877-1974 (M-89), Additional records of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, 1877-1977 (81-M237 -- 82-M11), Audiotape collection of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, 1986-2000 (T-362), and Videotape and motion picture collection of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, 1979-2001 (Vt-12, and MP-61), and the Crittenton Women's Union Records, 2005-2014 (MC 1039).


Donor: Women's Educational and Industrial Union

Accession numbers: 85-M280, 92-M54, 94-M173, 2002-M104, 2004-M130

Processed by: Mark Vassar and Emilyn Brown

The following items have been removed from the collection:

  1. Records of the Women's Rest Tour Association (1+1/2 cartons) were removed and processed separately.
  2. Records of Rockport Lodge (3 folders) were removed and added to previous accessions of Rockport Lodge Records and processed separately.
  3. The Pilgrim Scrip was removed, transferred to the books division, and cataloged separately.

Processing Information

Processed: November 2009

By: Mark Vassar and Emilyn Brown

Updated and additional material added: August 2020

Women's Educational and Industrial Union (Boston, Mass.). Additional records of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, 1877-2005: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA