On this historic day, we remember those Evanston women who served in elected office. We honor their pioneering efforts to make Evanston a place where women’s civic leadership is encouraged and accepted. This trend in Evanston is so strong that in recent years, Evanstonians have elected a majority of women to represent them at all levels of government.
The first woman to hold elected office in Evanston was Louise Brockaway Stanwood who served as a member of the School Board from 1892 to 1907. The election in 1892 was the first time Evanston women could both run for office and vote, and they could only run and vote for school board. In 1932, Daisy Sandidge became the first woman to serve as Alderman. In 1963, Mayme Spencer became the first African American woman to serve as Alderman. She served two terms and was active in the fair housing movement in Evanston.
Joan Barr was the first female Mayor of Evanston. Barr was mayor from 1985 to 1993. In 1993, Lorraine Morton was the elected first African American woman to serve as Mayor. She was also the first Democrat. She served until she retired in 2008, making her the longest serving Mayor in Evanston history. Morton was succeeded by Elizabeth Tisdahl, who served for one term. For more than thirty years, Evanston was led by female Mayors.
The obstacles these women faced in gaining and keeping their elected offices is unrecorded, but one can imagine the courage it took to agree to serve. We thank them on a day when such leadership is now recognized in the top levels of U.S. government. Whatever party you may support, you can agree that this is indeed a historic day in U.S. women’s history.