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The Evanston Women’s History Project is excited to unveil a new web resource that will highlight the contributions Evanston women and organizations made to making the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, removing gender restrictions on voting, possible.

People today associate this accomplishment with well-known figures like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but there are thousands of lesser-known women, many of them Evanstonians, who devoted their lives to the movement and helped make women’s right to vote possible.

In honor of the upcoming 2020 centennial of the 19th Amendment, the Evanston Women’s History Project is launching Evanston and the 19th, in which the stories of Evanston women and organizations that contributed to the movement will be showcased. Digital resources held in the Evanston History Center archives will be included.

Evanston and the 19th begins with three very influential Evanston women—Frances Willard, Elizabeth Boynton Harbert and Catharine Waugh McCulloch—as well as one very important organization—the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Over time, other women and women’s organizations will be highlighted, so stay tuned for more.

To visit the website, go to evanstonandthe19th.omeka.net.

This new resource was the summer 2015 project of Alisa Bajramovic, our first Vickie Burke Intern for Women’s History, and Maggie McClain, our fall 2015 intern. Thank you, Alisa and Maggie!

Rest Cottage with Willard, Anna Gordon and Mary Thompson Hill Willard

Rest Cottage with Willard, Anna Gordon and Mary Thompson Hill Willard

Saturday, September 26th

What: Walking Tour through Evanston’s Amazing Women’s History

When: 11:00 am-12:30 pm

Where: Frances Willard House, 1730 Chicago Avenue

Sunday September 27th

What: 150th Anniversary Celebration of Frances Willard’s “Rest Cottage”

When: 1:00-4:00 pm

Where: Frances Willard House, 1730 Chicago Avenue

Come enjoy two activities celebrating Evanston’s long history and the women who put Evanston on the national stage.

On Saturday September 26th, visit the places where Evanston women made history on this walking tour through downtown Evanston. Starting at the Frances Willard House and traveling through the nearby neighborhood, this tour will highlight the stories of Evanston women and women’s organizations. The tour is co-sponsored by the Frances Willard Historical Association and the Evanston Women’s History Project at the Evanston History Center. Kris Hartzell, EHC’s Director of Facilities and Visitor Services, will give the tour. The tour will take place on Saturday from 11:00-12:30 pm and begin and end at the Willard House at 1730 Chicago Avenue. The fee is $10 per person and reservations are suggested. Please RSVP to Kris Hartzell at khartzell@evanstonhistorycenter.org or 847-475-3410.

On Sunday September 27th, the Frances Willard Historical Association will celebrate Willard’s birthday and the 150th anniversary of Rest Cottage on the front lawn of the house, 1730 Chicago Avenue. Rest Cottage was the home of Frances Willard, a long-time Evanston resident who was at the forefront of the movement to improve the lives of women and children in the 19th century. Among her many social reform efforts were a woman’s right to vote, and children’s protection in the workplace. This family-friendly event will take place from 1-4 pm and include light refreshments, cake, and a concert by the Ridgeville Band beginning at 3:00. For more information, contact: Glen Madeja at info@franceswillardhouse.org. RSVPs are appreciated, but not required.

By Alisa Bajramovic, Summer 2015 EWHP Intern

The King’s Daughters, Camp Good Will, and the Mary Club were three charity organizations formed around the turn of the century and based, either partly or fully, in Evanston. Each of these charities were either run or greatly staffed by women, and they were created in order to help poor and needy families and young girls. Those who received charity were given free food and a place to stay for varying degrees of time, and all of these charities were centered around helping Chicagoans in need. For the Evanstonians involved in them, much value was placed in giving the poor city-dwellers a chance to live in and enjoy the suburban life, yet the community had a vastly different relationship and interactions with each due to the structure and purpose that the three charities served.

King's DaughtersThe King’s Daughters was an early Evanston women’s philanthropic organization, and it was formed in 1893. It began as an opportunity for women to sew clothes that they would then donate to other charities, but soon the King’s Daughters, “fed by an ambition to provide a service which was most needed and which they were best equipped to supply,” (Evanston Review, 11/7/1935), decided to open a home at 2329 Hartzell Street.

At first, this Home was used as a place to house people with cardiac issues, and then as a house for women enrolled in Northwestern’s graduate school. The King’s Daughters, however, wishing to do more, consulted Judge Mary Bartelme for advice, who suggested that they create a home for dependent girls. The Home was a place for a dozen girls between 11 and 18 to live, relax, and grow into young women. Though all of the girls came from broken homes and families, the King’s Daughters emphasized that these girls were certainly not delinquents: they were simply good girls who came from bad environments.

Mary Bartelme, the woman who the King’s Daughters had consulted, was appointed assistant to the Judge of the Cook County Juvenile Court in 1913. She then quickly noticed that many of the girls who appeared in court were in a troubling situation: the court would either have to send them back to their homes, which were often not good environments for a young girl to be in, or they would have to be sent on to prison, often just for committing a very minor crime.

Mary ClubIn 1914, she created the first Mary Club out of her home in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood as a place for these girls to live. Though these girls were delinquents, Mary thought that their home life and environment were not conducive to helping them develop, and that the Mary Club would change that. The girls spent between a few weeks and a few years in the Club, until they were 16 years old. In 1918, she created a second Mary Club at 1102 Elmwood Avenue in Evanston. Thousands of girls passed through her homes and were given a safe and free place in which they could live and grow.

Camp Goodwill Sign - on display at the Evanston History Center

Camp Goodwill Sign – on display at the Evanston History Center

Between the opening of the Hartzell Home and the formation of the Evanston Mary Club, Camp Good Will was created and thrived for 17 years. Based on of a similar camp in Oak Park, it opened in 1900 as a place to provide poor and needy Chicagoans, mostly mothers and their children, a summer respite on the lakefront. The program eventually ran for eight weeks in total, with 1200 women and children coming to Camp Good Will every year. The churches of Evanston traded off running the camp, and the women from the churches made sure that their guests were well fed, healthy, and enjoying their stay.

Though the King’s Daughters, the Mary Club, and Camp Good Will were not the first charities or philanthropic organizations to have been created in Evanston, they were unique in their settlement-like model. Earlier charitable organizations were more focused on teaching girls vital skills, or raising money to help the needy, yet were not involved with creating social, live-in spaces right in the heart of the community. The King’s Daughters’ Hartzell Home was full of girls who, despite being poor, were repeatedly emphasized as being non-delinquent. When the home closed down, neighbors were sad to see these nice girls go. Mary Club, on the other hand, was full of girls who explicitly had gone through the court system, and therefore would have likely been less welcomed by the Evanston community. In order to keep both the Hartzell Home and the Evanston Mary Club in service, both charities hosted many events in order to raise money. These events, ranging from balls to lectures to a county fair, gave Evanstonians an opportunity to support charity work without ever having to come into contact with those who received the charity.

Yet, there were some differences. Camp Good Will was more deeply intertwined than either the Hartzell Home or Mary Club with the community at large: “The camp brought together the urchin child of the streets with the privileged child of the suburb, and the tenement mother with the North Shore matron” (Evanston RoundTable, July 30, 2003). Evanston women worked with Chicago women, Evanston kids with Chicago kids. Businesses and local organizations donated goods and services ranging from cots and mattresses to a telephone and electric lights. From 1900 to 1917, the community worked together every summer to give the needy a place to stay. The way the Evanstonians saw it, instead of going down into the Chicagoans’ homes, why not welcome the Chicagoans into their own. In 1910, Sherman Kingsley of the United Charities of Chicago summed up the unique relationship of the camp and the community: “The people of Evanston need it quite as much as do those who benefit by its existence.”

In each of these three charities, needy Chicagoans traveled a dozen miles north to live in the peaceful suburb of Evanston. They all received free food, a place to stay, and the ability to participate in Evanston recreational activities. Everyone could experience the calmness not found in their former city homes for anywhere between a week and a few years. But just as much as these charities were for Chicagoans, they too were for the people of Evanston. Whether Evanstonians were donating money, goods, or their time, at the turn of century, community and charity in Evanston were intimately intertwined.

For more on these three women’s charitable organizations or the many others that existed over Evanston’s history, visit our research database.

ShiningLivesJoin EWHP on May 18th for an evening including an artistic overview of the creative process behind Northlight Theatre’s World Premiere Shining Lives: A Musical with the director/ co-creator, and a panel discussion centered around issues raised in the play.

It’s 1922 and the young women of Chicago’s Radium Dial Company are living a dream— earning good wages and beaming with new-found independence. After years of hand-painting watch dials, the so-called “harmless” radium leads to tragic results. Four courageous women upend their lives with a determination to change the future in this inspiring new musical.

Taking place on Monday, May 18th at 6:30 pm at the Evanston History Center (225 Greenwood St in Evanston), members of the community are invited to engage in a discussion about issues raised in the play with panelists:

  • Jessica Thebus – Assistant Professor, Northwestern University; Director and co-creator of Shining Lives: A Musical
  • Cindy Wilson – Clinical Professor of Law, Northwestern University
  • Glen Madeja – Executive Director, Frances Willard Historical Association
  • Lori Osborne – Director of the Evanston Women’s History Project, Evanston History Center

Thematically, this new musical offers perspective on issues including:

  • Women in the workplace—then and now
  • Labor Law Reform
  • Safe working conditions and corporate responsibility

Everyone attending this event will be able to purchase specially priced tickets to Shining Lives: A Musical, playing at Northlight Theatre May 8 – June 14, 2015.

iGEM Summit

An International Gender Equality Movement (iGEMlogo) Summit will take place on Saturday, May 16, 2015 from 10-3 pm at Harris Hall on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston. This event is hosted by iGem, a campus chapter of the United Nation’s Foundation campaign Girl Up, working in collaboration with the Women’s Center and other campus groups. The Evanston Women’s History Project is a Community Partner. The summit is designed for girls in grades 5-8 and the focus will be on leadership development. The day will include a speaker, leadership building activities, and open dialogue about issues affecting girls around the globe. Lunch will be served. For more information and to register go to www.bit.ly/iGEMsummit or email iGEM@u.northwestern.edu.

Lori Osborne, director of the Evanston Women’s History Project, was recently invited to speak on a panel covering the topic of Temperance and Woman Suffrage at the National Archives in Washington D.C. In partnership with the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, the National Archives hosts an annual women’s history month event and this year the event was themed to go along with a new exhibit at the archives — Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History. If you’d like to hear more about the topic and the work of Frances Willard and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (both call Evanston home) for woman’s suffrage, you can watch the presentation below.

EPL Women's Club Flyer by HeatherA locally produced documentary on the history of the Evanston Woman’s Club has been airing on local cable stations and will be shown at a free event at the Evanston Public Library. Produced by The Reporters, The Woman’s Club of Evanston: Making a Difference covers the history of the club throughout its many years of service in Evanston. The showing at the library takes place in the community meeting room on Saturday, March 28th at 1 pm with discussion to follow. For more information, click here.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals and families are increasingly visible in popular culture and local communities; their struggles for equality appear regularly in news media. While this is a relatively new situation, same-sex love and desire has a long-standing history and can provide historical context for current events.

Building from her recently published book, Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites, author Susan Ferentinos will discuss the ways historians approach the study of same-sex relationships; the challenges to uncovering this past; and the efforts of museums, historic sites, and community groups to preserve this history and present it to the wider public.

Co-sponsored by the Evanston Women’s History Project and the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites (NCWHS), this program is designed not only for those connected to a museum or site, but also for anyone who is concerned with issues of inclusion and diversity in our interpretation of the past.

book cover sue 2Susan Ferentinos is a public history researcher, writer, and consultant based in Bloomington, Indiana, where she specializes in historical project management and the use of the past to create community. Dr. Ferentinos holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history with a focus on the history of gender and sexuality and a Master of Library Science with a concentration in special collections, both from Indiana University.

The talk will be held on Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. (6:30 reception) at the Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood Street, Evanston, Illinois.

The cost is $10; free for Evanston History Center or NCWHS members. Reservations are encouraged. For more information about the event, membership, or the sponsoring organizations, visit www.evanstonwomen.org or www.ncwhs.org. To make a reservation, please contact the Evanston History Center at (847) 475-3410 or email Lori Osborne at losborne@evanstonhistorycenter.org.

To purchase the book online, visit this link.



The 2015 celebration of International Women’s Day in Evanston will take place Friday, March 6th from 7:45 – 9 am at the Woman’s Club of Evanston. This year’s topic will be: Ending Sex Trafficking Locally and Globally. For more information and to register, click here.

For more about the historic connection of Evanston to International Women’s Day, visit this previous post.

unnamedHappy 75th birthday to the Frances E. Willard Memorial Library and Archives. Founded to honor Frances Willard’s 100th birthday, this institution continues to be a major resource for telling the story of her life and the work of the many women involved in the temperance movement and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Evanston is lucky to be the home of such an amazing resource! Click here to find out more about an Open House on October 25th to celebrate. You can also find out more about using the amazing collection held in the archives and the recently completed Willard Journals digitizing project.

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