The Basket Club and Mask-Making

Date: Thursday, April 1, 2021
Time: 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Place: Via Zoom (register below!)


In 1873 Emily Elizabeth Parsons, a former Civil War nurse and founder of the Mount Auburn Hospital, started the Basket Club out of her parlor in Cambridge. Taking its name from the large basket of fabric and sewing supplies placed in the middle of the table at each gathering, the Basket Club’s function was to enlist the women of Cambridge in the work of sewing linens for the hospital, as well as orphanages, settlement houses and retirement homes in the community. Over the course of the next ninety years, the Basket Club functioned as both a service and a social organization, allowing its members to create and donate their handiwork and to gather to discuss a wide variety of subjects from literature to religion to politics. The Cambridge Historical Society holds the papers of the Basket Club in our archival collection.

Just as the Basket Club gave the women of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Cambridge the opportunity to channel their skill with the needle to aid those in need in their community, the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic saw many Cantabrigians eagerly contributing to the city’s efforts to collect and distribute handmade face masks to help protect residents against the spread of the virus.

Deputy Pauline Wells of the Cambridge Police Department

Join us on April to learn more about the Basket Club and mask-making efforts in the City of Cambridge. In this program we will look at the legacy of the Basket Club in the creation of handmade donations in times of crisis, and we will be joined by Deputy Pauline Wells of the Cambridge Police Department, who will discuss the city’s mask drive and its effect on both the makers and recipients. We hope you will join us for a thoughtful and informative discussion of the role that handmade donations can make in the mending of a community during challenging times.