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NYPL Exhibitions

Women's Power Lunch

Jane Cunningham Croly was an experienced editor and widely published journalist when she applied for a ticket to the New York Press Club dinner honoring Charles Dickens in March 1868. The Press Club leadership thought she had to be joking, for a woman could never attend such a prestigious event. A month later Croly founded the first organization in America dedicated to raising women’s status. The club, Sorosis, met for lunch at Delmonico’s, a venue chosen precisely because, like the city’s other leading restaurants, it did not serve women unless they were escorted by men. Sitting down to lunch at Delmonico’s was the club’s first victory.

Heterodoxy, another longtime feminist gathering, was also born over lunch. In 1912 a group of political, artistic, and social radicals began meeting at Polly Holladay’s restaurant in Greenwich Village, where they spoke their minds on all the issues of the day and deliberately left no records of what was said.