The History of The Bridgeport Ladies Charitable Society


The Bridgeport Ladies Charitable Society was founded in 1813. Notable for its length of continuous charitable service to the greater Bridgeport community since its inception, the Society has a history of charitable giving to persons who have encountered personal hardships. Requests are received from area churches, local social service agencies and personal referrals. BLCS is a 501©3 organization.

History Timeline

The Bridgeport Female Benevolent Society is Formed

Originally called The Bridgeport Female Benevolent Society, members devoted their time and energy to assisting the Golden Hill Indians who were having difficulty adjusting to life after the War of 1812. The women then continued their care to the widows and families of sailors in the Bridgeport area. They distributed clothing, shoes, milk and food as well as coal to struggling citizens.

The Ladies Held a Charity Supper to Raise Funds

During the Civil War the city of Bridgeport had grown so much that the people in need were not just neighbors but “destitute people from all walks of life.” The demand for assistance was so great that the Ladies held a charity supper to raise funds. It was so successful that it became an annual event from 1861-1865.

Renamed to The Bridgeport Ladies Charitable Society.

The Bridgeport Female Benevolent Society was renamed The Bridgeport Ladies Charitable Society.

BLCS Received a Charter of Incorporation from the State

The resolution stated that “the object of the Association shall be to assist those persons or families in Bridgeport and adjoining towns when circumstances may require clothes, provisions, money and the like.” A detailed report the Society’s treasurer told how much the Society helped that year: “The sum of $163.50 in cash was disbursed and $54.75 worth of groceries. In addition, the Society disbursed 322 yards of calico, 208 yards of cotton, and 73 garments, 18 pairs of shoes and 28 yards of flannel. The Society also realized and helped with the need for a day care nursery for working mothers.”

The Wicker Basket is Adopted

100th Anniversary

The wicker basket became a symbol of the Society. In the early years the basket was used to carry layettes, food, medical supplies and clothing to those in need. It continues to be on display at the Annual Donation Tea to receive contributions from the many generous friends of the Society.

The Depression Brings Great Need

125th Anniversary

Because of the Depression, the need for more coal for heat and milk for undernourished children became critical. The ladies also continued to sew for Bridgeport Hospital.

BLCS Expands the Way it Provides Assistance

150th Anniversary

BLCS was changing the ways it helped: financially helping a girl finishing nursing school; providing 1200 quarts of milk every month to families; sending boys, girls and elderly to summer camp; supplying bedding, clothing and furniture to a family after their house burned down. By 1965, 41% of the Society’s expenses went for milk, 20% for scholarships, 9% for camperships and 30% for specific needs of individuals.

BLCS’s Network and Reach Grows

175th Anniversary

Outreach expands and the Society becomes more dependent on social service agencies and churches for referrals.

BLCS Recognized with Local Awards

Bridgeport Ladies Charitable Society received the Bridgeport Police Department Civilian Award which was given for helping a victim of violence. That same year BLCS also received an award from Family Services Woodfield for its unwavering support in providing meals to the elderly and disabled of Greater Bridgeport.

Bridgeport Ladies Charitable Society Received the Woodfield Award

Bridgeport Ladies Charitable Society received the Woodfield Award from Family Services Woodfield for helping clients with particular needs.  “This unique personal approach has become a hallmark of the society and its historic commitment to helping others in the greater Bridgeport area.”

The Work of the Society Continues with Referrals from Many Organizations

200th Anniversary

As times change, so do the needs of many. The work of the Society continues with referrals from many established organizations: Hartford Healthcare, Yale-New Haven Hospital, The Agency on Aging, Center for Family Justice, Family Services Woodfield, Operation Hope, area churches, to name a few. Aid helps families with gas, oil, water and electric bills.  Requests continue to be made for mattresses and bedding, school uniforms, dental work, eye care and medical bills, air-conditioners and refrigerators, home repairs and security.  The requests are infinitely varied and often far reaching.

The Bridgeport Ladies Society also supports approximately one hundred children in various summer camps each year.

BLCS Received the Jacky Durrell Award from Operation Hope

BLCS received The Jacky Durrell Award from Operation Hope, saying “it is one of the few organizations serving Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull unmatched for length of continuous charitable service to its community. Managers, all of whom are volunteers, meet monthly to consider requests referred to the Society by friends, local agencies, community services and area churches. What sets the Society apart from other institutions is that it does not fund large programs or initiatives but offers financial assistance for individuals with critical needs when there are no other resources. The funding provided by the Society fills in gaps for many of Operation Hope’s clients, helping them overcome challenges and fulfilling immediate needs.”