Started in 1931, the Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale is the longest-running and largest sale of its kind on the East Coast. It is renowned for the excellent quality of books sold in some 70 categories, as well as the large number of hardback and non-fiction titles available. Each year, our volunteers sort almost one million books, saving approximately 60,000 to sell at the annual sale, held for five days each March at Stuart Country Day School in Princeton, NJ.
We raise scholarship money for local students attending Bryn Mawr and Wellesley Colleges, recycle huge numbers of books, provide a place for book lovers to purchase good-quality volumes at a reasonable price, and help those who want to reduce the size of their libraries find a good home for their books.
When the book sale began, the country was in the middle of the Great Depression. Many young women who had looked forward to a college education found themselves unable to attend. With nationwide unemployment at 25 percent, college was out of reach for many.
A group of Bryn Mawr College graduates came up with the idea of raising scholarship money to help these young women. In Princeton, where there is no shortage of readers, selling used books was the ideal solution. The only remaining problem was to find a way to accumulate an inventory to sell. Each week the women would meet as a group and line by line read through the Princeton telephone book. When one of them recognized a name, she volunteered to ask if there were any books their acquaintances were willing to part with. These were sold to raise scholarships.
Wellesley to the Rescue
In 2000, a shortage of volunteers threatened to put an end to the operation. However, the Wellesley Club of Central New Jersey joined the effort and both alumnae groups now donate scholarship funds to their respective colleges from the proceeds of the sale.
How it All Works
We accept donations at the rear of 281 Witherspoon Street in Princeton. See the Donations page for details. Books are sorted into over 60 categories, boxed, and stored at a warehouse until March, when the annual sale is held. In the week prior to the sale, the books are delivered to Stuart Country Day School and arranged according to category on hundreds of tables.
Remaining books are given at no charge to service organizations working with prisoners; schools in the US, Africa, and beyond; and other groups. Pre-registration and verification are required for groups requesting free books. Email us at bmandwbooks @ gmail.com