New Century Trust records, Collection 3097

Date created 1854-2004 | approximately 1854-2004 (bulk 1882-2000)
Abstract The New Century Trust was founded in 1893 as the incorporated body of the New Century Working Women's Guild. Eliza Sproat Turner (1826-1903), a progressive women's activist, helped create both organizations. Over several decades, the trust oversaw and provided financial support for the guild's activities for women in the workforce. The records of the New Century Trust include their own and mostly those of the New Century Guild and its predecessor, New Century Working Women's Guild. Spanning from the mid-1800s to the early 2000s are board and committee meeting minutes, administrative files, membership materials including members' information cards, financial records, photographs, artifacts, clippings, and ephemera.
Additional Description Although this is a large collection, the bulk of its materials are from the post-1920 period. Those that do fit into the project scope are, like meeting minutes, mostly procedural. They do, however, paint a picture of the New Century Guild as somewhere between a settlement house, a union, and a social club by and for self-supporting women. Both meeting minutes and office account books also provide insight into the kinds of evening classes the Guild offered. Given that the organization shared DNA with the Consumers League (Florence Kelley was a founder), it is not surprising that these sources place special emphasis on investigating and improving the working conditions of women and girls. Other points of discussion involved suffrage, home life and paid work, and women's contributions to the war effort. Extant copies of publications, clippings, conference programs, etc., date almost entirely from later in the 20th century.
Research Interest Despite the presence of such prominent Philadelphians as Lucretia Blankenburg and Charlotte Peirce on the Executive Board, the fact that the Guild aimed to be an organization by and for working women allows their voices to come through. The Guild thus differed from many other organizations established for working women in the same era. Members were proud to work for wages and based much of their identity on this activity, particularly interesting given the wide range of occupations represented by the Guild's membership. These records will thus be interesting to historians of women, wage work, and class consciousness.
Size 49.7 linear feet
Full collection description Home repository description for New Century Trust records, Collection 3097
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Local identifier 3097
Contributing institution Historical Society of Pennsylvania
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