The unique history of The Bridgeport Ladies Charitable Society boasts that the Society is one of the few charitable organizations in Connecticut, and probably the entire United States, unmatched for length of continuous charitable service to its community.
Founded in 1813 and originally called The Bridgeport Female Benevolent Society, its purpose was to "help all in poverty or distress and those citizens of Bridgeport who had seen better days, helping them in their work training so as to be self-sufficient."
The earliest beneficiaries were Native Americans, who lived in hovels beneath Golden Hill in Bridgeport, along what is now Elm Street. They were fed and clothed by the founders of the society. Next in the long line of beneficiaries were the widows and orphans of the sailors who fought in the War of 1812. The Society Managers sewed clothes for these families.
Over the years, Bridgeport grew from a borough to a town and then finally became a city. The needy were no longer just neighbors but destitute people from all walks of life. By 1884, the number of people asking for help was so great and the bequests and gifts to the Society so generous, that the organization requested and was granted a charter from the State Legislature. The Bridgeport Ladies Charitable Society attained its 501(c)(3) status in 2008.
Since the Society's inception, the concerns of the community it serves have changed and have become infinitely more varied. Nevertheless, the Managers, all of whom are volunteers, have continued to meet the needs of people in the Greater Bridgeport area. This includes the towns of Bridgeport, Trumbull, Easton, Stratford, Monroe and Fairfield. The individuals are referred to the Society by friends, local agencies, community services and area churches. Many individuals and families are provided assistance every year by the Bridgeport Ladies Charitable Society.