The Philadelphia Ladies' Depository
The First Annual Report, of the Mangers of The Ladies' Depository; With a List of the Officers and Managers, and of the Contributors.
Philadelphia: Printed by Order of the Society.
Lydia R. Bailey, Printer, No. 26 North Fifth Street.
A year having now elapsed since the commencement of the Ladies' Depository, it becomes the duty of the Board of Managers to present to the contributors an account of the manner in which their funds have been appropriated, and the affairs of the Institution conducted. The plan and object of the Ladies' Depository appearing not to be generally understood, the managers take this opportunity of exploring the nature of the establishment and the cause of its formation. In every large city, a numberous class of persons is found, whom the vicissitudes of fortune have reduced from a state of ease or affluence to the necessity of gaining a subsitence by their own personal exertions. The sufferings of females are, in most cases, greatly augmented by a natural feeling of delicacy, which leads them to shrink from observation, and from encountering the rough and unkind treatment to which they are frequently exposed in their efforts to obtain employment. To devise means for relieving this class of females; to afford them facilities for disposing of useful and ornamental work in a convenient and private manner, a number of ladies consulted together, and as the most eligible plan for effecting the object, determined to open a small shop, and appoint an agent to attend to the reception and sale of articles. To aid in supporting the Institution, a commision of six per cent. Is deducted from the amount of every sale, and to secure its benefits to such only as are entitled to them, no work is received but upon the presentation of a permit signed by one of the Managers. To obtain a permit, application must be made to one of the Managers, whose duty it is to inform herself, as far as is needful and proper, of the circumstances of the individual. [pp. 3-4]
Experience only can point out the imperfections of any plan. Two difficulties which had not been anticipated, soon presented themselves. First, several of those who had received permits had been accustomed only to plain needle-work, and could not undertake any thing else; and secondly, very few could afford to invest a sufficient sum of money to purchase fine and handsome materials to make up, and coarse articles were found to be unsaleable. [p. 4]
The Managers think proper here to notice the only serious objection that has been made to the Ladies' Depository,--that by affording facilities for the concealment of names and circumstances, it fosters a false pride, which ought rather to be subdued. Let it be remembered, in the first place, that the desire for concealment is not always voluntary. Many who would not object themselves to having their circumstances known, are influenced by the feelings and opinions of near relatives or friends, upon whom they are, in some measure, dependent, and who might be seriously offended by such exposure. But, in the second place, concealment is but a part of the object of the Ladies' Depository. It's principal design is to screen the unfortunate from the unkind treatnent which they too often experience in their intercourse with the world. Instances have come to the knowledge of the Managers, of the most praiseworthy exertions being met by repulsive and almost insulting conduct, which not only wounded the feelings, but tended to discourage further effort.
The cheerful countenances and grateful acknowledgments of many who have been relieved from difficulties, by this institution, have cheered the Managers in their work, and they commend it to the attention of the Public, in full confidence that it needs only to be known, to receive the patronage which it requires.
Believing it to be founded on principles in strict accordiance with the Divine precepts, and grateful for past favours, they trust that the blessing of Heaven will attend their future efforts, and crown them with abundant success. [pp. 5-6]
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