Cover for SANDER: The Business of Charity: The Woman's Exchange Movement, 1832-1900

The Business of Charity

The Woman's Exchange Movement, 1832-1900

In the nineteenth century Woman's Exchanges formed a vast national network that created economic alternatives for financially vulnerable women in a world that permitted few respectable employment options.

One of the nation's oldest continuously operating voluntary movements—many are still in business after more than a century—the Exchanges were fashionable and popular shops where women who had fallen on hard times could sustain themselves by selling their handiwork on consignment—without having to seek public employment. Over the century Exchanges became an important forum for entrepreneurial growth and an example of how women used the voluntary sector—which had so successfully served as a conduit for their political and social reforms— to advance opportunities for economic independence.


"Besides being a well-written and humorous history of the Woman's Exchange Movement, The Business of Charity confirms my thinking that our efforts today are as valid as they were at the turn of the century."--Manie Van Doren, president, Board of Managers of the New York Exchange for Woman's Work


Kathleen Waters Sander has worked in institutional advancement for more than twenty years. She teaches history at the University of Maryland University College.

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