Mission & History

WCF Mission and History

Mission Statement

Women & Children First believes in the transformative power of literature. As intersectional trans-inclusive feminists, we believe books are tools for liberation. Since 1979, we have celebrated and amplified underrepresented voices. In order for feminism to remain relevant, it must be forever evolving. In our bookstore:

  • We thoughtfully curate our selection of books. 
  • We offer a welcoming space for learning, dialogue, and reflection.
  • We host author events, and we facilitate community conversations, book groups, and storytimes.
  • We strive toward a feminist, equitable workplace. 
  • We partner with and support schools and mission-aligned organizations through programming, monetary contributions, and in-kind donations.
  • We are leaders in the localism movement and we champion independent businesses.

We hope to realize our dream of an inclusive feminist future.

July 2022 Update from Sarah & Lynn

Navigating how to run a feminist business under capitalism–or if such a thing is even possible–has been a struggle since our co-founders opened the store back in 1979. We were recently engaged in a community conversation sparked by a social media post that challenged us to consider how we are living up to our mission. In response, our staff gathered to talk in person to map out steps to ensure that our bookstore's stated mission and our daily operations are better aligned. Within the year, we hope to share with you a strategic plan with goals for now, near, and far that will address financial transparency and a clearly defined pay structure, a more horizontal decision-making process, and our commitment to further anti-racism and anti-oppression training for both management and staff. The first order of business, though, is that beginning this month, Women & Children First will increase pay to the living wage for Cook County defined by MIT. We move forward with intentionality, grounded in the belief that we are building the feminist future we want to see in the world. Making this a sustainable reality will require community support. We humbly ask that our communities be our safety nets as we prepare to make some big leaps of faith. Thank you for listening & stay tuned to this page for updates!

History

Women & Children First opened in a modest storefront in 1979, owned by Ann Christophersen and Linda Bubon, who met as graduate students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Over the years we've been located in several locations on Chicago's northside. In 1990, we moved to our current location in the Andersonville neighborhood. Ann and Linda

We are one of the largest feminist bookstores in the country, stocking more than 20,000 books by and about women, children's books, and the best LGBTQIA+ literature. Anything we don't have in stock we can usually get in a few days, even if it's a title outside our specialty. We also carry cards, magazines, journals, posters, calendars, buttons, flags, and more.

In 2014, our co-founders sold the bookstore to two of their staffers, Lynn Mooney and Sarah Hollenbeck. The change in ownership kept the store “in the family” and renewed the strength and vitality of our mission. We strive to offer a place where everyone can find  books reflecting their lives and interests in an atmosphere in which they are respected and valued.