Major funding for Christmas on Henry Street

was provided by the

Betty R. and Ralph Sheffer Foundation


About Christmas on Henry Street

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In this story a Christmas tree from a secret admirer comes between a young woman and her fiancé in 1902 - a rare year when Christmas Eve and the first night of Hanukkah have coincided.


Many of the characters for the story’s world were fashioned after people who really lived, like public health nursing founder Lillian Wald, Miss Wald’s co-worker Mary Brewster, Danish American author and social reform photographer Jacob Riis, wealthy investment banker and philanthropist Jacob Schiff, Scottish-Irish janitress Mrs. McRae and her son Tommie, slumlord Mr. Murphy, and Captain Samuel J. Battle, New York’s first African American police officer.


With key themes that revolve around love, prejudice, heritage, and forgiveness, the goal of Christmas on Henry Street is to bring warmth, goodwill, and holiday cheer to listeners. Inspired by true events, our historical fiction podcast is suitable for family audiences.



In “Christmas on Henry Street,” when New York’s East Side-based settlement worker Lillian Wald receives a Christmas tree from a secret admirer, her adoring fiancé Charles Barry is furious, and her benefactor

Mr. Schiff makes it clear that he will not allow a tree to be on display at the Henry Street House.


To provide some comfort to newly arrived immigrants forced out of their homelands in Eastern Europe, Miss Wald forges ahead with her plans to host a Christmas Eve gala - despite Mr. Schiff’s demand to “take down that tree!” When she lands herself in trouble with raucous Police Chief McKay, incorruptible Captain Battle tries to intervene, while her fiancé only becomes more suspicious.


With the city’s social problems bearing down on her, and her co-worker Mary Brewster frightfully ill – Mr. Schiff does the unthinkable. Miss Wald may be forced to cancel the gala, but motherly housekeeper Mrs. McRae refuses to stand by while their Christmas is ruined.