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I began volunteering at the Evanston History Center (home of the Evanston Women’s History Project) in 2010 and, since that time, it has become a significant and fulfilling part of my life in the community. My experience began with organizing and cataloging historical source material, including the extensive newspaper clipping files – my personal favorite being the “Backyard Chickens” folder, containing every article ever written on this slice of Evanston life!

Since those beginnings working with the archival collection, I have been fortunate to participate in two projects highlighting Evanston’s outsized role in the history of women’s rights and feminism in the United States. I first worked on the EWHP research database, assisting in validating and sourcing information to be included in the biographies and organizational histories. I am currently working on the Illinois Suffrage Research Project, compiling the stories of Evanston and Illinois women who contributed to passage of the 19th Amendment, securing the right-to-vote for women for a National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) database .

The Evanston History Center has an enormous volume of resources and a unique collection of primary documents. When necessary my research is supplemented with records housed at the Northwestern University Archives and the Frances Willard Archives, located at the Willard House site. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my work is uncovering the small details in the various primary sources, which add understanding and color to the lives of these women.

Every woman I research walked the same streets as I do, lived in the same neighborhoods as my friends and were sometimes educated at the same schools my children attend. I walk past their houses and marvel at what they achieved with such limited support, precedent or power.  Evanston has a rich and unique history – volunteering at the History Center connects me to that past. I am honored to have the opportunity to bring to life the stories of these hard working, courageous and sometimes forgotten women and contribute to keeping Evanston’s remarkable history accessible

Julia Flynn, March, 2017

For more information or to volunteer with the Illinois Suffrage Research Project, contact us at ewhp@evanstonhistorycenter.org.

The Evanston Women’s History Project is now accepting applications for the 2017 Vickie Burke Internship for Women’s History. 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 2017 this will be in summer or fall
  • the schedule will be flexible but most internships will last 8-10 weeks and be approximately 15 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.

Evanston’s celebration of International Women’s Day will take place on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 from 6-8 p.m. at the Upstairs Theatre of Evanston Township High School. The theme this year is Be Bold, Let’s Move the Needle: A Conversation on Women’s Economic Progress and the Journey Ahead. Evelyn Diaz, President of the Heartland Alliance, will be a featured speaker and Louder Than A Bomb will also perform. There is no charge for the event, but reservations are required.

The Evanston Women’s History Project is pleased to be a Founding Partner of this event. For more about Evanston’s historic connection to International Women’s Day, click here. For information about this year’s event and to RSVP, click here or on the image.

Untold Stories: Enslaved People in the Home of the Grimke Family

By Louise W. Knight

Thursday, March 2, 2017, 7pm

When we think about how enslaved people responded to their bondage, we often think first of those who liberated themselves through the underground railroad, but this is only part of the story. Join us for a presentation by historian Louise W. Knight as she discusses some of the other ways people rebelled against enslavement, drawing on the stories of the enslaved people of the aristocratic Grimke family of Charleston, South Carolina. Pieced together from correspondence, white owners’ published recollections, and “runaway” ads in newspapers, the stories illustrate the courage and resourcefulness with which people met their involuntary bondage.

This Women’s History Month program is co-sponsored with the Evanston History Center and the Frances Willard Historical Association.

Reception catered by Whole Foods Market starts at 6:30pm.
Reservations are encouraged – click here.

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/

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