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Here are some highlights from the EWHP in 2016. We are looking forward to a busy 2017!

  • in 2016, the Joan Barr Smith Endowment for Women’s History moved to the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF). Barr Smith was Evanston’s first female mayor and this move honors Joan’s long commitment to both women’s history and Evanston, and ensures the long-term sustainability of the EWHP. It also recognizes ECF’s significant role in developing and supporting the EWHP in its early years. The Endowment now stands at almost $50,000. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this fund, and please consider supporting it going forward. More details can be found on the ECF website.
  • the EWHP is in the second year of the Vickie Burke Internship for Women’s History program. In 2016, Ella Wagner, who is working on her PhD in History at Loyola University Chicago, spent the summer and early fall with the project. Ella updated our online exhibit of women’s suffrage material, primarily focusing on the story of the Evanston Political Equality League. Visit Evanston and the 19th to see what Ella’s been working on. Thank you to everyone who gave to the internship fund as this has been a key way for the project to move forward. We will begin recruiting 2017 interns in the late winter/spring.
  • in 2016, we also worked closely with the Frances Willard House, planning a full slate of women’s history programs both at the house and about town. We jointly hosted two women’s history walking tours (led by Kris Hartzell) and one lecture on plans for the restoration of the historic garden at the house. As the Willard House reopens after an amazing interior restoration (more here), I feel this partnership has great future potential. In addition, exciting plans are in the works to ensure this most important women’s history site is around long into the future, so stay tuned.

Looking ahead to 2017, we have a strong menu of programs scheduled for March, Women’s History Month. These will include the annual celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th and a lecture on March 2nd in conjunction with the Evanston History Center’s Underground Railroad exhibit (more here about the lecture at EHC). And, the EWHP is connected to national, state and local planning groups for the celebration of the 2020 women’s suffrage anniversary. From research, to exhibits, to public programs and celebratory events, EWHP is involved and this will continue to be a focus of our work.

Finally, all this work could not happen without the operational support of the Evanston History Center. If you are interested in making a donation to support the ongoing work of the Evanston Women’s History Project, you are welcome to do so through the EHC Annual Appeal. Thank you for your support – it makes our work to document and tell the stories of women’s lives in Evanston possible!

Lori Osborne, EWHP Director

This year, Evanston is very much honoring this occasion with two events planned. And, if you miss the events, you can still see the two exhibits that are mentioned. Details from the City of Evanston website:

Art Exhibition Opening Reception to be Followed by Celebration of Loan of Frances Willard Sculpture

The City of Evanston and the Evanston Arts Council will host an opening reception for the upcoming exhibition, Inequality and Influence: Inspiring Women of Evanston, Past and Present from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, August 26, 2016 at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center Second Floor Gallery, 927 Noyes St., Evanston.

The exhibition opening will take place on Women’s Equality Day commemorating the day in 1920 that American women were granted the right to vote through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The exhibition, which will be on display through September 13, will feature the work of photographer, Annette Patko, as well as historical documentation and artifacts from the Frances Willard Historical Association and Shorefront Legacy Center. 

Following the reception, at 7 p.m., the Evanston Arts Council will receive on loan from the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Frances Willard House a bronze bust of Frances Willard. The reception celebrating the loan of the sculpture will take place in the first floor lobby of the Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., Evanston. 

The Noyes Cultural Arts Center’s Second Floor Gallery is managed by the City of Evanston’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department. Admission is always free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Why Not Let Mother Vote

Evanston Women and the 19th is a web resource that was introduced by the Evanston Women’s History Project last fall. The information on the collections is valuable, and recent updates make the materials more interactive and engaging for visitors. These updates include:

  • a new contextual timeline that opens the exhibit, offering visitors a view of what was happening in Evanston as compared to the state of Illinois and the rest of the United States
  • a video produced by Loyola University Chicago graduate students highlighting a play written by Evanston suffragists Catharine Waugh McCulloch
  • an interactive timeline highlighting the life and career of Catharine Waugh McCulloch
  • added materials to the digital collection

Over the coming months, new materials will be added to the collection, and new innovations will be used to highlight the stories held in this collection. Please check back here periodically to keep up-to-date on these changes!

Click here to start your visit to Evanston Women and the 19th!

nw female college

In partnership with the Frances Willard Historical Association. Meets in front of the Frances Willard House, 1730 Chicago Avenue. Explore the revolutionary history of Evanston’s women by viewing the houses and buildings where they worked to transform our cultural landscape.

Cost: $20/$15 for Evanston History Center and Frances Willard Historical Association members.

When: June 18 and September 17, 11 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

Where: All tours begin at the Frances Willard House, 1730 Chicago Avenue.

Reservations are not needed but they are encouraged via email –ewhp@evanstonhistorycenter.org.

Hope you can join us!


The EWHP celebrates women’s history month with a look at the roles played by women in World War I. Historian Tricia Smith Scanlan presents: Nurses, ‘Hello Girls,’ and Farmerettes: The Changing Roles of American Women in World War I. The event takes place on Thursday, March 10, 2016, 7PM, at the Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood Street, Evanston, IL. A reception catered by Whole Foods Market kicks off the event at 6:30 PM. The program is in partnership with the Frances Willard Historical Association (FWHA).

Decades before “Rosie the Riveter,” thousands of women joined the male-dominated workplace during World War I. They served as ambulance drivers, nurses, factory workers, and farmers. Tricia Smith Scanlan will explore the significant contributions American women made during the war, as depicted in the rich visual culture of photographs, magazine illustrations, and posters from the period.

Tricia Smith Scanlan received her PhD in art history from Indiana University, with a specialization in American art and visual culture of the 19th and 20th centuries. She has taught art history at Indiana and DePaul Universities, and has worked in Museum Education at the Art Institute of Chicago. Currently, she serves as an adjunct lecturer at the Art Institute, works as an art education consultant, and teaches adult seminars at the Newberry Library.

Reservations are recommended. You can make a reservation online at evanstonhistorycenter.org/all-events/ or by calling 847-475-3410.

Admission is $10, payable at the door. EHC and FWHA Members are free.

For more information, visit: evanstonhistorycenter.org or franceswillardhouse.org.

By Janice Zulkey, Pierian Club Member

The end of the 19th century was a time of tremendous growth in the country. As the United States was developing into a capable national state there was a new emphasis on education and self-improvement across the country. For those who had limited opportunities for formal education, women in particular, the desire for intellectual stimulation gave rise to an explosion of clubs to fill that need. In order to have their opinions taken seriously on an astonishing number of issues like temperance, suffrage, career opportunities and independence, to be able to be real participants in the progress of their communities, women had to expand their minds beyond the limits of household responsibilities.

President's Day Program, 1907

President’s Day Program, 1907

Inspired, twelve Evanston women met in 1891 to found Pierian, a “club for mutual self-improvement.” The name is derived from Greek mythology where the Pierian spring was sacred as the source of knowledge. It is referenced in the club’s motto, an excerpt from Alexander Pope’s Essay on Criticism:  “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring.”

The Pierian founders were already very active in the community. They were well-traveled, married to prominent businessmen, mistresses of stately Victorian homes. They were sophisticated enough to recognize that if there were to be a common wealth of culture in a growing Evanston, its women needed to be enlightened. Their path to accomplishing this was Pierian, which is still going strong.

In 1892 a pattern of study was established. An annual theme was chosen which would then be broken down into appropriate subheadings for scrutiny. During each meeting a member was expected to deliver a thoroughly researched paper on her selected topic, inevitably stimulating lively responses.

1900-1901 Member Booklet

1900-1901 Member Booklet

Pierians were intrepid about choosing their themes. The first was a thorough study of John Ruskin, the prolific art critic and social thinker.  The rigor of their studies never ebbed. They investigated “The Industrial Arts” (1901), “The Georgians” (1933), “Literature of the Restoration” (1939), “Critics and Criticism” (1943), “Living Ethics” (1960), “Protest, American Style” (1972). More recently Pierians have studied Dynasties, Victorian England, Rivers of the World, Museums, Mexico, and Journalism, among others.

They continue to meet eight Mondays a year within one another’s residences. At one in the afternoon it begins with tea and dessert, then the members settle in to enjoy the day’s paper and special time for discussing it and the various topics it has provoked. Like their charter members they continue to support the Evanston Library with annual monetary contributions. Today’s 25 members are more formally educated than the founders. The great majority have master’s degrees, several have doctorates. They have all had careers. Most are former educators but their work experiences cover the fields of industrial engineering, social work, marketing, nursing, physical therapy, communications, library science and finance. Regardless, all enjoy exploring areas of knowledge well beyond the perimeters of their professions.

Its purpose is still the same and if the desire for intellectual challenges and exchanges remains strong there is every reason to believe that Pierian will continue for another one hundred and twenty-five years.

Our guest contributor for Women’s History Month is longtime Evanston resident Janice Zulkey, who has been a Pierian for 32 years.  She is grateful for all she has learned from writing and listening to Pierian presentations during her membership. The gracious camaraderie has been an added bonus.
For more on the history of the Pierian Club and many other Evanston women’s organizations, visit our Research Database – http://evanstonwomen.org/project-database/

The Evanston Women’s History Project is pleased to announce the creation of the Vickie Burke Internship for Women’s History, honoring her work for women and for the EWHP. Started in 2007, Evanston Women’s History Project is based at the Evanston History Center in Evanston, Illinois. The mission of the EWHP is to document and celebrate the significant contributions of Evanston women and women’s organizations to the community. This internship is in conjunction with the Frances Willard Historical Association (FWHA) which manages the Frances Willard House Museum. Both locations are near downtown Evanston and are easily accessed by car and public transportation.

Project work could include:

  • continued research on Evanston women and women’s organizations
  • website and research database updates and management
  • program development and event planning — including the 2020 Suffrage Anniversary Project and our annual Women’s History Month event
  • online and onsite exhibit development

Other projects will be determined based on project needs and intern’s interests and abilities.


  • internships will take place once per year; for 2016 this will be in summer or fall
  • the schedule will be flexible but most internships will last 10-12 weeks and be approximately 20 hours per week
  • interns will be paid a stipend of $1,500
  • applicants will be required to be in college or graduate school studying in the fields of history, women’s or gender studies, or public history

For more information and an application, please email ewhp@evanstonhistorycenter.org or call (847) 475-3410.

IWD 2016

Evanston’s celebration of International Women’s Day 2016 is scheduled for Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at First Methodist Church, 516 Church Street. The keynote speaker this year is Dr. Beth Richie, Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her presentation is titled Gender Violence: Addressing Injustice.

All are invited to:

ENGAGE in an examination of how race and social position have influenced women’s experience of violence and incarceration.

TAKE ACTION to change the criminal justice system’s impact on gender-based violence.

Click on this link to RSVP. The event is free of charge and a light breakfast is provided.

7:45 am: Networking breakfast
8:15 am: Keynote speaker and Q & A
9:30 -10: Learn about ways to get involved and take action from community partners

This event is hosted by: YWCA Evanston/North Shore, Northwestern University Women’s Center, The Woman’s Club of Evanston, Evanston Women’s History Project, Frances Willard Historical Association, the League of Women Voters of Evanston, and the City of Evanston.

Please contact Cece Lobin at clobin@ywcae-ns.org with questions.

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.

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