Window Shop (Cambridge, Mass.)

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The Window Shop (1939-1972) was a store located in Cambridge, Massachusetts created by a small group of women wanting to help immigrants fleeing Europe. It was originally located in a room on the second floor of 37 Church Street and was named for the room's large window. One of these women was Elsa Brändström Ulich, a Swedish-immigrant nurse and philanthropist.

In 1939, four women opened the Window Shop at 37 Church Street with a combined sum of 65 dollars to aid immigrants fleeing German-occupied Europe who needed jobs, housing, and English education. At first, the Shop served as a consignment shop where immigrant women could sell their handicrafts and homemade baked goods, but after moving to 102 Mt. Auburn Street in November 1939, it was able to open a tea room and pastry shop, and within a year, was serving lunch. It would also eventually contain a dress and gift shop.

Shop revenue was used to pay employees, who were mostly immigrants or refugees. During the 1940s, the Shop became one of the first businesses in Cambridge to hire African-Americans. The Window Shop created jobs for and trained hundreds of people in various skills, such as salesclerks, dressmakers, bakers, etc. Employee schedules were based on their own needs and availability, and not at the whim of the Shop. The Shop was also concerned with working conditions, wages, and providing benefits not required by law, which made it a progressive employer for the time. The Window Shop also was funded in part by, and cooperated with, the New England Christian Committee for Refugees (NECCR).

In addition to providing a space for immigrants to work and make money, The Window Shop also provided scholarships to children of employees and emergency assistance funds.

In January of 1942, Frances Fremont-Smith (wife of Frank Fremont-Smith), opened a Friendship House, where immigrants and refugees could attend lectures, sing, check out books from a lending library, and get information about other events around town one day a week, while enjoying refreshments. However, due to lack of funding, the Friendship House closed after a year of operation.

Due to lack of space, The Window Shop relocated, for the last time, to 56 Brattle Street in 1947. The new building, constructed in 1811 for Torrey Hancock, had previously been the Cock Horse Inn, Dexter Pratt's Blacksmith Shop (made famous by the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem "The Village Blacksmith"), and after The Window Shop sold it in 1972, it was the Hi-Rise Bakery and then the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.

The Window Shop restaurant would, at times, serve around 8,000 customers a day, but by the late 1960s, patron usage declined, and despite rebranding the Shop restaurant with a new manager and a Viennese Cafe, The Window Shop had to sell out and close in 1972. After closure, The Window Shop changed its name to The Window Shop, Inc. Scholarship Fund, which was incorporated in 1942, and it continued to offer scholarships to "new Americans" until 1987.

In 1987, The Window Shop Inc., Scholarship Fund dissolved, with board members deciding that it outlived its usefulness and deeming that other Cambridge institutions could carry out their work. After dissolution, the Fund left its name and some assets to Northeastern University to give to refugee students. Other funds were given to former employees, some were designated for the processing of their archival materials at the Schlesinger Library, and some for a future history written on The Window Shop. The majority of the assets, however, went to The Boston Foundation to assist with refugees and foreign-born residents.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Records, 1939-1992 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Window Shop (Cambridge, Mass.). Records, 1939-1992 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Schiffer, Olga Gruenberger, 1895-. Papers of Olga Gruenberger Schiffer, 1935?-1982 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Jones, Bessie Zaban. Papers, 1984-1997 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. Luncheon talks, 1983-1984 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Brändström, Elsa, 1888-1948. Papers, 1933-1982 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Radcliffe College. Class of 1932. Scrapbooks and papers, 1928-1984 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Papers of Margaret Earhart Smith, 1940-1978 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. corporateBody
associatedWith Aub, Elizabeth Cope person
associatedWith Aub, Elizabeth Cope. person
associatedWith Bever, Marion person
associatedWith Bever, Marion. person
associatedWith Bieringer, Walter person
associatedWith Bieringer, Walter. person
associatedWith Brändström, Elsa, 1888-1948. person
associatedWith Broch, Alice Perutz person
associatedWith Broch, Alice Perutz. person
associatedWith Brooks, Susan person
associatedWith Brooks, Susan. person
associatedWith Brown, Dorothy Kirchwey, 1888-1981 person
associatedWith Bunting, Mary Ingraham, 1910- person
associatedWith Cabot, Thomas D. 1897-1995. person
associatedWith Cambridge Center for Adult Education corporateBody
associatedWith Cambridge Center for Adult Education. corporateBody
associatedWith Cannon, Bernice person
associatedWith Cannon, Bernice. person
associatedWith Cope, Alice DeNormandie person
associatedWith Cope, Alice DeNormandie. person
associatedWith Dahl, Dorothy. person
associatedWith Emerson, William, 1873-1957. person
associatedWith Fainsod, Elizabeth person
associatedWith Fainsod, Elizabeth. person
associatedWith Fisher, Dorothy Canfield, 1879-1958. person
associatedWith Fremont-Smith, Frances person
associatedWith Fremont-Smith, Frances. person
associatedWith Friendship House (Cambridge, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Harken, Anne person
associatedWith Harken, Anne. person
associatedWith Hoover, J. Edgar 1895-1972. person
associatedWith Jones, Bessie Zaban. person
associatedWith Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963 person
associatedWith Kepes, Gyorgy, 1906-2001. person
associatedWith Kroto, H J person
associatedWith Kroto, H. J. person
associatedWith Lyons, Louis Martin, 1897-1982. person
associatedWith MacLeish, Archibald, 1892- person
associatedWith MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982. person
associatedWith Macomber, George person
associatedWith Macomber, George. person
associatedWith Mohrer, Mary person
associatedWith Mohrer, Mary. person
associatedWith Mongan, Agnes. person
associatedWith New England Christian Committee for Refugees. corporateBody
associatedWith O'Neill, Tip person
associatedWith O'Neill, Tip. person
associatedWith Rabb, Irving W. person
associatedWith Radcliffe College. Class of 1932. corporateBody
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962. person
associatedWith Saltonstall, Leverett, 1892- person
associatedWith Saltonstall, Leverett, 1892-1979. person
associatedWith Sanborn, Agnes Goldman, 1887-1984. person
associatedWith Schiffer, Olga Gruenberger, 1895- person
associatedWith Schlesinger, Elizabeth Bancroft, 1886-1977. person
associatedWith Singer, Gertrude person
associatedWith Singer, Gertrude. person
associatedWith Smith, Clement A. 1901-1988. person
associatedWith Smith, Margaret Earhart, 1902-1960 person
associatedWith Smith, Margaret Earhart, 1902-1960 person
associatedWith Taft, Arthur N? person
associatedWith Taft, Arthur N. person
associatedWith Tillich, Paul, 1886-1965. person
associatedWith Vorenberg, Frank person
associatedWith Vorenberg, Frank. person
associatedWith Wolfinsohn, Sally person
associatedWith Wolfinsohn, Sally. person
associatedWith Wyzanski, Gisela Warburg person
associatedWith Wyzanski, Gisella Warburg. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Cambridge MA US
Cambridge MA US
Cambridge MA US
United States
African Americans
Business enterprises
Employee assistance programs
Employee fringe benefit
Students, Foreign
Fund raising
Gift shops
Nonprofit organizations
Old age pensions
Personnel management
Political refugees
Social service
Social service finance
Social work with immigrants
Specialty stores
Student aid
World War, 1939-1945
Nonprofit organizations
Social workers

Corporate Body

Establishment 1939

Disestablishment 1972


African Americans,





Ark ID: w6tg0nzh

SNAC ID: 85695201