Girls Friendly Society. Records

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Girls Friendly Society. Records


  • 1860-2000 (Creation)


12 cu.ft. (36 boxes)

Name of creator


The Girls' Friendly Society (GFS) was founded in England in 1875 as the Church’s response to the needs of girls who had left their homes behind to work in factories and mills, or as domestic servants. Recognizing the same needs in the United States and using the GFS as a model, Elizabeth Mason Edson founded the first Girls' Friendly Society in America (GFSA) branch at St. Ann's Church in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1877. In the beginning, the GFSA defined itself as "...a week-day group work organization within the Protestant Episcopal Church, whose members accept the Christian faith and seek in fellowship of worship, study, work and play to serve God and extend His Kingdom." Its earliest mission was to support the living conditions and community life of working and immigrant girls in the transition from farm to factory living. By the early 1920s GFSA had spread across the United States, and in 1929 it reincorporated and changed its name to the Girls’ Friendly Society of the United States of America (GFS-USA). The focus at this time was to seek protective legislation for girls, work for labor reform, and provide a number of war-related services. In the 1960s, due to declining membership and failure to meet fundraising goals, the GFS-USA incorporated its mission with the mission of The Episcopal Church. As a result, in 1967, the Department of Christian Education of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church took over responsibility for the national programs run by the GFS-USA, while the diocesan and branch organizations continued to operate as before. Today, The Girls' Friendly Society is an international, religious organization for girls and young women from ages 5+ of any race, religion, or nationality. Affiliated with The Episcopal Church as a parish-based program, GFS provides support and opportunities to girls through service to others, worship, study, and recreation.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The records of the Girls’ Friendly Society in the United States of America (GFS-USA) provides an impressive historical record of the organization. Minutes and reports of the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Coordinating Board, as well as financial ledgers and audits document the organizations governing bodies and fiscal responsibilities. The relationship between the national headquarters of the GFS-USA and local chapters as well as the Department of Christian Education of the Executive Council is also well documented.

In addition, a large collection of publications provides a thorough history regarding the activities and mission of the GFS-USA from as early as 1878.


Governance, 1924-1998
Financial Records, 1916-1977
Administrative Records, 1885-1998
Provincial Profiles, 1963-1966
Program Materials, 1897-1966
Girls' Friendly Society Publications, 1878-2000
Relationship with the Department of Christian Education, 1966-1980
Artifacts, 1860-2000

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Access to Episcopal Church records is governed by the Archives Public Access Policy. Research requests must be submitted in writing.

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The Archives is able to respond to limited requests for reproductions subject to copyright restrictions, internal policy, and the condition of the source documents.

Languages of the material

  • English
  • Spanish

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