With a history that spans almost 170 years, there is a vast well of stories behind the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange — and in the celebration of Women’s History Month, you can delve into that past.
Historian and archivist Martha Foley will present tales of the past and join in a conversation with members of the organization’s leadership in a talk at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church on Sunday, March 19.
Originally founded in 1854 as the Brooklyn Female Employment Society, the charitable organization made it possible for women in need to support themselves through needlework. From the start, the charity included a shop where items could be purchased and also provided clothing, blankets, and other soft goods to local orphan asylums and other aid societies. During the Civil War, garments made by Brooklyn women were purchased by the US Sanitary Commission and distributed to wounded soldiers. The organization changed names several times as it merged with similar charities before becoming known as the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange in 1936.
The goods sold in the shop have changed over the years as bed jackets and calves-foot jelly have given way to modern tastes, and the artisans now include men and women. But supporting the work of individual artists has remained central to the organization’s mission. The group moved from its long-time home on Pierrepont Street to a new location at 137 Montague Street in November of 2022.
The talk will take place at St. Ann’s at 157 Montague Street on Sunday, March 19 from 1 to 2:30 pm The event is free and open to the public. More information can be found at the event page online.