Records of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, 1894-1955
History, printed material, annual reports, financial records, etc., of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, a non-profit social and educational agency in Boston, Mass.
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by 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. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Extent4.59 linear feet (11 file boxes)
The papers consist of a manuscript history of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, written in 1955 by S. Agnes Donham, much printed material re the work and operation of the various departments 1878-1920, Domestic Reform League, School of Housekeeping, Handwork Shop, School Lunches, New England Kitchen, etc. Three boxes show the work of the Appointment Bureau, 1907-1933, and its relation to other Bureaus of Occupation. Two boxes contain reports of the Research Department, 1898-1931, into problems of domestic service, immigrant women and their protection, industrial opportunities for women and girls, old age security, etc.
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."
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 52-47, 54-18, 56-103
The papers of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union were deposited in September 1952, January 1954 and May 1956. A gift from the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, they were obtained through the Appointment Bureau, the Research Bureau and Eleanor Allen.
- Box 1: Folders 1-7
- Box 2: Folders 8-19
- Box 3: Folders 20-26
- Box 4: Folders 27-31
- Box 5: Folders 32-37
- Box 6: Folders 38-45, Vols. 2-3
- Box 7: Folders 46-59, Vol. 1
- Box 8: Folders 60-68
- Box 9: Folders 69-87
- Box 10: Folders 88-114
- Box 11: Folders 115-163
- Boston (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Factory inspection--Massachusetts
- Home economics--Study and teaching--Massachusetts
- Human services--Massachusetts
- Labor inspection--Massachusetts
- LinkEmployment agencies--Massachusetts
- Occupational training--Massachusetts
- Older people--Services for--Massachusetts
- Sales personnel--Training of--Massachusetts
- School children--Food--Massachusetts
- Simmons College (Boston, Mass.)
- Social service
- Women household employees--Massachusetts
- Women immigrants
- Women--Services for
- Women--Vocational guidance
- Work environment
- Women's Educational and Industrial Union (Boston, Mass.). Records of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, 1894-1955: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Language of description
- EAD ID
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.
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