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Woman's Friend Society

Joined in March 2020

About Us

The Woman’s Friend Society has been a positive and often pioneering force in the charitable life of Salem, Massachusetts, since the society’s founding in 1876. Through Emmerton House, providing affordable housing for women, and the outreach work of its committees, the Woman’s Friend Society continues to contribute actively to the Salem community.

In today’s active non-profit world, it’s difficult to imagine how innovative the founders of The Woman’s Friend Society were in 1876 when they recognized and acted on the needs of Salem’s “less fortunate” women. Beginning with the Girl’s Reading Room, the Society created a place where girls and women could meet, even if some of the initial participants did not know how to read. It was an immediate success, attracting girls and young women who then brought their friends. It was also the first of many endeavors that were worthwhile, often ahead of their time, and made quality improvements in the life conditions of many women.

It soon became apparent that more than a meeting place was needed. These girls and women needed jobs. The establishment of what was called the Intelligence Office and later, the Admission and Investigation Office, sounds fairly subversive to modern ears, but was, in the lingo of the day a “bureau of employment.” And, if not subversive, it was definitely considered progressive.

In fact, “progressive” describes most of the activities of the Society, many of which were first-of-their-kind efforts that flourished and eventually became independent.

The Woman’s Friend Society has been a positive and often pioneering force in the charitable life of Salem, Massachusetts, since the society’s founding in 1876. Through Emmerton House, providing affordable housing for women, and the outreach…

Issue Areas Include

  • Housing & Homelessness
  • Job & Workplace
  • Poverty
  • Women

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