WOMEN & CHILDREN FIRST BOOKSTORE

ORGANIZATION | Inducted 2020

As the feminist movement has evolved so has Women & Children First Bookstore. Its events in programming as well as hiring practices reflect trans-inclusive intersectional politics. In 2014 the 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 its mission. It strives to offer a place where everyone can find books reflecting their lives and interests in an atmosphere in which they are respected and valued.

Women & Children First (W&CF) was opened in a modest storefront in 1979 by Ann Christophersen and Linda Bubon, two graduate students who met and fell in love at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Active in the second wave of feminism, they decided that their contribution to the feminist movement would be a bookstore that centered the voices and needs of women and children. They also decided early on that their bookstore would be a space where LGBT folks felt celebrated and safe.

W&CF moved to its current location in Andersonville in 1990, having outgrown two previous, smaller locations (one on Armitage, the other on Halsted). Andersonville soon became an important hub of Chicago’s active and vigorous lesbian community. 

At the height of the feminist bookstore movement, there were 100 such stores in the U.S. However, today only about a dozen remain, with W&CF perhaps being the largest one. It has 20,000 titles in stock, with a particular focus on the intersection of gender and sexuality, race, age, and ability.

Since the beginning, the bookstore’s events and programming have showcased and championed events for LGBT identified authors, both established and emerging. Some notable authors who have appeared at the store include Alison Bechdel, Rita Mae Brown, Roxane Gay, and Jane Lynch. For 10 years it has hosted Sappho’s Salon, an open mic for women and nonbinary writers, comedians, musicians, and other performing artists. It has also hosted an annual Pride reading featuring LGBT writers and supporters of the community.

As the feminist movement has evolved, so has W&CF. Its events and programming, as well as hiring practices and workplace culture, reflect trans-inclusive intersectional politics. In 2014 the 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 its mission. It strives to offer a place where everyone can find books reflecting their lives and interests in an atmosphere in which they are respected and valued.

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