The Schlesinger Library is the repository for the records of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union (Boston, Massachusetts), a nonprofit social and educational agency, founded in 1877 by Dr. Harriet Clisby, and incorporated in 1880 "to increase fellowship among women and to promote the best practical methods for securing their educational, industrial, and social advancement." To accomplish this mission, the organization was arranged in committees or departments that throughout its history provided education and job placement services for women, social services for the needy, social programs for members, and operated a number of retail shops. These departments continued to evolve as different needs arose.
In 2002, the union changed its name to the Women’s Union, and in 2004 sold its buildings, dedicating the income from their sales to future programs. In July 2006 the union merged with the nonprofit organization Crittenton to become the Crittenton Women's Union, dedicated to transforming "the course of low-income women's lives so that they can attain economic independence and create better futures for themselves and their families."