Degree Year


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Carol Lasser


WEIU, Women's Educational and Industrial Union, Boston


Founded in 1877, the Women's Educational and Industrial Union of Boston is still in existence today. Although a pioneer in the fields of social reform, industrial education, women's organizations, and social science, it has long been neglected by historians. The first thirty-five years of the Union's history were particularly important in establishing a diversity of activities and a set of priorities. As an organization committed to mutual aid and benevolence, the WEIU, on the one hand, provided fellowship and an outlet for the energies of social-reform minded women, and, on the other hand, provided information and crucial services to the many young women who were newcomers to Boston, often alone, and in need of lodgings and employment. In particular, the Union deserves special attention for its concern with enabling women of all classes to support themselves. To this end, it sponsored some of the first women's handwork shops, employment agencies, and trade schools in the nation.

This thesis follows the development of the WEIU between its founding in 1877 and the appointment of its first paid and professionally education president in 1912. The Union had three presidents during this period, Dr. Harriet Clisby (1877-1880), Abbey Morton Diaz (1881-1891), and Mary Morton Kehew (1892-1912). The terms of Diaz and Kehew each correspond to the two major phases of the Union's early development, and therefore mark transitions within this paper. In each case, the president' s own outlook significantly influenced the philosophy which shaped the Union's work, making it appropriate to examine it in some detail.

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