New York Exchange for Women's Work
Language of Materials
The collection consists of the records of the New York Exchange for Woman's Work, a charitable institution whose mission was to provide a retail outlet for the handiwork of needy consignors. The records include board minutes, corporate, financial, and real estate papers, advertising materials, clippings, photographs, and ephemera.
The collection is organized into the following thirteen series:
- Series I. Minutes, 1878-1997
- Series II. Corporate Documents, 1878-1987, n.d.
- Series III. Financial Documents, 1911-1997, n.d.
- Series IV. Real Estate Documents, 1914-2000
- Series V. Correspondence, 1878-2003, n.d.
- Series VI. Menus and Recipes, 1937-1980, n.d.
- Series VII. Publications, 1894-1994, n.d.
- Series VIII. Advertising and Public Relations Materials, 1918-2002
- Series IX. Fundraising, 1879-2000, n.d.
- Series X. Photogrpahs and Video, 1981-1990, n.d.
- Series XI. Historical Information, 1891-1998, n.d.
- Series XII. Other Exchanges and the Federation of Woman's Exchanges, 1879-2000, n.d.
- Series XIII. In-Store Displays and Exhibits, n.d.
The materials are arranged chronologically within each series.
Scope and Content Note
The records of the New York Exchange for Woman's Work include board minutes, corporate, financial, and real estate papers, advertising materials, clippings, photographs, video and ephemera. The New York Exchange was one of many such organizations founded in the late nineteenth century. Its original aim was to help "gentlewomen in reduced circumstances" principally Civil War widows) achieve economic independence. The Exchange sold the handiwork of these women, including crafts, giftware, decorative items, clothing, pickles, preserves, and baked goods. Over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the organization grew to include an employment agency, a vacation home where needy women were hosted free of charge, training and education facilities, and a Restaurant and Bar. Over time the Exchange also began to accept work from needy women (and, by the 1970s, men) of all social classes.
The collection supports research on the history of philanthropy, women's employment, and women's exchanges (which at one time numbered over 70 in the United States and Canada). The collection contains materials related to the corporate history of the Exchange, including nearly complete minutes of monthly and annual meetings of the Board of Directors (variously referred to as Board of Managers) and various subcommittees. The minutes detail the challenges of running a not-for-profit business, and provide insight into the social changes which occurred over the course of the twentieth century, particularly in regard to employment opportunities for women. Because it moved nine times in the course of its 125-year history, the collection also contains a great deal of material related to the real estate owned and rented by the Exchange.
For many years the Exchange was just as well-known for its Restaurant as for its shop. The collection includes menus, recipes, and cookbooks from the Restaurant, as well as numerous newspaper and magazine articles which comment on the experience of dining at the Exchange. Also of interest are the publications produced by the Exchange. In particular, the Exchange Revue, a magazine/catalog first published in 1936 contains articles on the subjects of fashion and beauty, housekeeping, entertaining, home decorating, literature, film, and theater, in addition to advertisements for local businesses and news about the Exchange.
The collection also contains materials related to public relations efforts of the Exchange. Press releases and PR strategies mainly date from the 1990s, but newspaper clippings and advertisements have been preserved from as early as 1919.
Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.
Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.
Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions
This collection should be cited as The New York Exchange for Woman's Work Records, MS 446, the New-York Historical Society.