The Packer Collegiate Institute: A Story of Education in Brooklyn

Harriet Judson

Harriet Judson Class of 1859

Harriet Judson graduated from The Packer Collegiate Institute and went on to help found the first Brooklyn branch of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in 1888.

Judson joined a group of prominent Brooklyn women in advocating for the creation of the YWCA. The original goal of the YWCA was to provide a safe meeting space for young, single women at a time when a growing number of them were arriving in the city to work. At the YWCA, women found opportunities to meet, socialize, and attend lectures, often on the topic of proper Christian morals. Working with the YWCA, Judson also helped to establish a travelers’ aid program to protect women who were traveling alone.

Judson was quick to realize that the YWCA could do more. She began to advocate and fund-raise for a new large building that would provide the influx of women with safe and affordable lodging. A new building designed for this purpose opened on Nevins Street in 1913 and was named the Harriet Judson Residence in her honor.

Following the death of her husband in 1912, Judson inherited a large fortune that she continued to devote toward charitable causes until her own death in 1922.

The YWCA sold the Judson building in 1969. Today it provides housing and aid for at-risk individuals living in Brooklyn.