Mary F. Haskin was an early Evanston resident and leader in the fight for women’s education. Active in a variety of causes, she is best remembered for leading a group of prominent women who founded the Evanston College for Ladies, one of the earliest educational institutions in the United States run entirely by women, and for serving as the first president of its Board of Trustees. A devout member of the Methodist Church, Haskin was also a charter member and vice president of the Women’s Educational Aid Association, and a trustee of the Illinois Industrial School for Girls.
A pioneer in women’s education, it was Mary Haskin’s vision that led to the establishment of the Evanston College for Ladies, placing women’s leadership at the forefront of the movement for female education in Evanston. Her work as an organizer, fundraiser, and leader in previous projects, including the establishment of the Heck Hall dormitory at Northwestern University, encouraged her peers to support her efforts to secure a charter for the Evanston College for Ladies, and her work on the board of trustees for that institution set the stage for the coeducation movement that would transform women’s opportunities and access to higher education. In her work with the College as well as the Women’s Educational Aid Society and the Illinois Industrial School for Girls, Haskin inspired a younger generation of women to work for her causes, many of whom wrote tributes to her in the wake of her death in 1895.