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Guide to the Records of the New York Exchange for Woman's Work
1878-2003
  MS 446

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Gabrielle Sanchez

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on August 24, 2012
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

1878 In March, the New York Exchange for Woman's Work is founded by Mrs. William G. Choate, Candace Wheeler, and approximately 20 other women, with Mrs. Choate as President. Thirty articles are offered for sale in Mrs. Choate's home at 108 East 31st Street. Within a month, the Exchange moves to larger quarters at 4 East 20th Street. In November, the Exchange is incorporated in New York State.
1894 The Exchange moves to 329 Fifth Avenue, and publishes its first catalogue.
1899 The Exchange moves to 334 Madison Avenue, and opens its first lunch counter.
1915 The Exchange opens the Vocational Bureau. This division places women in positions as domestic and office workers.
1917 Mrs. John Seely Ward becomes President of the Exchange.
1919-1920 The Exchange purchases twin five-story houses at 539-541 Madison Avenue. Restaurant service is expanded on the ground floor, and the shop occupies the second floor. Additional space is used for offices and for the Exchange's other activities, including the Vocational Bureau. The Exchange also provides training services, teaching women skills such as dressmaking.
1934 Mrs. Robert C. Ream becomes President of the Exchange. Amid letters of protest and extensive media coverage, the "Crinoline Bar" opens in the Exchange Restaurant. Also this year, the Federation of Woman's Exchanges is founded.
1936 The first Exchange Revue is published.
1966 Mrs. Fergus Reid, Jr. becomes President of the Exchange.
1969 Mrs. William J. Lippincott becomes President of the Exchange.
1970s The Internal Revenue Service begins to question the tax-exempt status of the Exchange's Restaurant. Proceeds from the Restaurant have traditionally been used to offset loses from the consignment shop. The IRS concludes that Restaurant itself does not serve the Exchange's charitable mission, and must become a for-profit establishment.
1979-1980 The property at 539-541 Madison Avenue is sold to real estate developers; the Exchange moves to 660 Madison Avenue. Although the salesroom is reopened, the Restaurant is permanently closed.
1984 Mrs. Richard E. Metz becomes President of the Exchange.
1986 Mrs. Bromwell Ault becomes President of the Exchange.
1988 Mrs. A. Reading Van Doren, Jr. becomes President of the Exchange.
1990-1991 The Exchange moves to 1095 Third Avenue.
1997 The Exchange moves to 149 East 60th Street.
2003 Unable to raise enough money to meet growing expenses, the Exchange closes in February.