Elizabeth H. Odell was born and raised in Ohio, then moved to Spokane, Washington, where she worked in a high school. After working for a few years in Spokane, Odell and her husband moved to Evanston, where she began establishing herself as a civic-minded resident.
In 1901, Odell joined the Women’s Club of Evanston, where she became the Chairman of the Child and Home Department. Throughout her time as a community activist, Odell focused on domestic reform and welfare causes. She led the Social Register and was a leading member of the Food Conservation Committee during WWI. Additionally, she organized the Young Women’s Community Club and helped support the Park Ridge School for Girls.
Odell’s main focus was combatting the hunger crisis. Odell developed the Community Kitchen in Evanston during WWI, which she continued post-war. The Community Kitchen provided meals to families in the Evanston area and shipped meals to soldiers fighting in WWI. After WWI, the kitchen continued to be integral to Evanston through the Great Depression.
Odell invested herself in a myriad of organizations in Evanston. As a resident, she tirelessly worked to help shape Evanston into a city that supported its residents. Her involvement was seen in the Women’s Club, Community Kitchen, Evanston Hospital Board, Family Welfare Association, Evanston Chamber of Commerce Board, and the Evanston League of Women Voters.