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Sisters For Social Change: Belle And Katharine Skinner And The Creation Of The Skinner Coffee House

Sisters for Social Change: Belle and Katharine Skinner and the Creation of the Skinner Coffee House

Wednesday March 14, 2018 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Lunch cafeteria at the Skinner Coffee House c. 1920

Join scholar and Skinner descendant Sarah S. Kilborne, author of American Phoenix, as she illuminates the story of the Skinner Coffee House. Belle and Katharine Skinner, inspired by their father’s legacy, used their wealth and social standing to improve the lives of working women in Holyoke, creating a settlement house that provided recreation and development for generations of girls and women. The Skinner Coffee House served the Holyoke Community for over 100 years. Established by Belle and Katharine Skinner in 1902 in honor of their father William Skinner, the Coffee House was originally used by women employed at the William Skinner & Sons Silk Mill for educational, social, and service activities. The Coffee House was one of many institutions established throughout the country around the turn of the 20th century to serve the needs of recent immigrants who worked in mills and factories.

This program is open to all, donations at the door welcome to help us keep our historical programming free and accessible.


SarahKilborne_byJaneO'Connor copySarah S. Kilborne is an author, equal rights activist and performer. Her most recent book, American Phoenix (Simon & Schuster, 2012), was the biography of silk industrialist William Skinner, her great-great grandfather, and the father of Belle and Katharine Skinner. She writes for several online publications including Slate, The Huffington Post, Curve Magazine and the Advocate. She is also the writer and creator of The Lavender Blues, a new musical theater piece which tells the story of queer music before World War II and which she currently performs around the country. “

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