The early women of Evanston were pioneers, innovators, and social reformers,  tirelessly championing the rights, education, and welfare of women and children, transforming our cultural heritage.

Ÿ-   Elizabeth Wheeler Andrew   –   Jane Van Ettan Andrews   –   Clara Bell Baker   –   Edna Dean Baker Ÿ –   Josephine Turck Baker   –   Mary Bartelme   –   Marjorie Ayers Best   –   Helen Mar Judson Beveridge   – Ÿ Sarah Blaisdel Blanchard   –   Grace Jones Boring   –   Myra Colby Bradwell   –   Sarah H. Brayton   –  ŸKatharine C. Bushnell   –  ŸMargery Claire Carlson   –   Jessie Jane Chandler   –   Marguerite Stitt Church   –     Ethel Louise Coe   –   Elizabeth Washburn Crandon   –   Lois Mae Williams Davis  Ÿ –   Caro Blymyer Dawes   –   Helen Palmer Dawes  Ÿ –   Gladys Henry DickŸ   –   Mary Spencer Gardner   –    Isabella Maude Garnett   –   Louise Ayers Garnett   –   Mary Chaplin Glenn Ÿ  –   Anna Adams Gordon   –   Anna Rew Gross    –   Melinda Truesdell Hamline   –   Elizabeth Boynton Harbert Ÿ –   Georgia Elma Harkness   –   Mary F. Geer Haskin   –   Frances Shapiro Herskovitz    –   Elizabeth Webb Hill Ÿ –   Mary Hyde Brown Hitt Ÿ –  Jane Currie Blaikie Hoge Ÿ –  Clara Ingram Judson Ÿ –  Kathryn Kidder   –   Bessie Cook Kingsley   –   Nellie Fitch Kingsley   –   Hurd Lord   –   Rosetta Wiege Lukey   – Ÿ  Cornelia Gray Lunt Ÿ  –   Nancy Carman Lutkin   –   Elizabeth Smith Marcy Ÿ –   Catharine Waugh McCulloch   – Ÿ  Mary Eliza McDowell   –   Mary Gilruth McEwen   –   Kate Way McMullen   –    Anne George Millar   –   Emily Huntington Miller  Ÿ –   Elizabeth Hawley Odell   – Ÿ Archange Chevallier Ouilmette   – Ÿ  Hannah Bailey Pearsons   –   Eleanor Ellis Perkins   – Ÿ  Lucy Fitch Perkins   – Ÿ  Jessie L. Pocock   – Ÿ  Catherine Gillespie Queal   – Ÿ  Catherine Howard Reckitt   – Ÿ  Alice Cushing Donaldson Riley   –   Maria Murray Robinson   – Ÿ  Emma Winner Rogers   –   Eva Tayalor Rouse   – Ÿ  Minna Moschersch Schmidt   –   May Wood Simons   – Ÿ  Carrie Crawford Smith   – Ÿ Louise L. Brockaway Stanwood   –   Alice Bunker Stockham   – Ÿ  Eunice Hammond Tietjens   –   Mary Crowell Van Benschoten   – Ÿ  Florence Dahl Walrath   – Ÿ  Winifred Louise Ward   – Ÿ  Cora Lee Banner Watson   -Ÿ  Jane Hutchins White   – Ÿ  Bertha Yerex Whitman   –   Frances Elizabeth Willard   –   Mary Bannister Willard   –   Helen Burnett Wood   –   Ida Faye Wright   –


“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Illinois ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on June 10, 1919, the first state to do so. The Amendment became national law on August 18, 1920. The early women of Evanston were instrumental in securing women’s right to vote, both within Illinois and nationally. 

Early Evanston women were leaders in the fields of education, law, theater,
health, art, music, social welfare, literature, medicine, and social justice.

She was commissioned by the British government to investigate the opium trade between India and China.

Katharine C. Bushnell, M.D.

She was a prolific writer on the subject of women's rights, appearing twice before the U.S. Senate on behalf of women's rights.

Elizabeth Boynton Harbert

The first full-time female professor at Northwestern University, she was a world renowned botanist and conservation advocate.

Margery Claire Carlson, Ph.D.

She was the fifth woman honored with a bust in the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in New York.

Frances E. Willard

She was a significant figure in the socialist movement as a lecturer and served as assistant editor of the 'Chicago Party Socialist.'

May Wood Simons

She framed Illinois legislation allowing women to vote for presidential electors before the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Catharine Waugh McCulloch

She was the first woman in Illinois to serve as a Justice of the Peace.

Catharine Waugh McCulloch

She collected 32,000 pounds of food for the needy in Belgium during WWI.

Helen Palmer Dawes

She was instrumental in the passage of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, fully establishing prohibition.

Anna Adams Gordon

A contributor to numerous Chicago newspapers and journals, she was a charter member of the Illinois Social Science Association.

Mary Crowell Van Benschoten

She founded the Illinois Children's Home and Aid Society, which for over 130 years has remained a leading child a family service agency in Illinois.

Caro Blymyer Dawes

She was the most famous American woman of her era, and is credited with helping to "transform the role of women in 19th century America."

Frances E. Willard

She wrote a groundbreaking study of male-biased mistranslations of the Bible. It was based upon her own translations from the Hebrew.

Katharine C. Bushnell, M.D.

She developed a course on religious drama.

Winifred Louise Ward, Ph.D.

She was one of the first female African American physicians in Illinois.

Isabella M. Garnett, M.D.

She urged Congress to hold the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago and was credited with being largely responsible for Chicago's being chosen.

Myra Colby Bradwell

She was the first licensed cab owner in Illinois.

Lois Mae “Peaches” Williams Davis

She developed nationally acclaimed programs for the assimilation of immigrants and for the political education of women.

May Wood Simons

She headed the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, an organization with 250,000 members, mobilizing countless women to take on a wider role in the world.

Frances E. Willard

She founded the Drama League of America, which established 37 centers throughout the U.S.

Alice C. D. Riley

She became an architect when only one percent of practicing architects in the U.S. were female.

Bertha Whitman

She founded the Illinois Industrial School for Girls which provided a home and training for destitute orphans of the Civil War.

Helen Judson Beveridge

They founded the Visiting Nurse Association which provided a wide range of medical services to low income residents in Evanston and the surrounding communities.

Nancy Lutkin

Jessie Chandler

Kate Way McMullen

A Broadway sensation at the age of 16, she was the youngest leading lady of her era on the America stage.

Kathryn Kidder

She founded the Women's Educational Aid Association, a pioneering organization in providing financial assistance for women students. By 1907, over 1400 women had received aid from WEAA.

Hannah Bailey Pearsons

During WWI, she reported from France for the "Chicago Daily News," one of only a few women war correspondents at the time.

Eunice Hammond Tietjens

She exposed white slavery in Wisconsin lumber camps which led to state legislation.

Katharine C. Bushnell, M.D.

They founded the Girls League, which nurtured young, single workingwomen for 35 years, before merging with the YWCA.

Catherine Howard Reckitt

Bessie Cook Kingsley

Rosetta Wiege Lukey

An accomplished early businesswoman, she developed a neighborhood of 32 homes in Evanston during the first decades of the 1900s.

Eda Hurd Lord

Known for her ability to interpret art for laymen, she was fundamental in bringing an understanding and appreciation of art to women.

Ethel Louise Coe

She was a founding member of the Women's Architectural Club of Chicago, which later became a part of the American Institute of Architects.

Bertha Whitman

She played a prominent role both nationally and internationally as a pioneer in providing access to medical information about women’s health and sexuality.

Alice Bunker Stockham, M.D.

A close associate of Susan B. Anthony, her long career as a prolific writer and women's rights activist began in the 1860s.

Elizabeth Boynton Harbert

She wrote the bill that strengthened rape and age-of-consent laws in Illinois.

Catharine Waugh McCulloch

Her actions led to reforms in food safety that were credited with preventing an epidemic of typhoid fever.

Helen Palmer Dawes

She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine, having spent more than 30 years developing the first vaccine for scarlet fever.

Gladys Henry Dick, M.D.

A famous poet and writer, she raised funds in support of the Union cause during the U.S. Civil War.

Emily Huntington Miller

She was legal advisor to the National Woman's Suffrage Association.

Catharine Waugh McCulloch

Her writings were translated and published in German, French, Finnish, and Swedish. Leo Tolstoy was so impressed with her work that he arranged to have it translated into Russian.

Alice Bunker Stockham, M.D.

She was a nationally recognized author who served on numerous national panels promoting new standards in child education and care.

Edna Dean Baker

As a pioneer female gynecologist and professor of gynecology, she advocated for better medical practices and for recognition of women physicians.

Mary Gilruth McEwen

The first female college president in the U.S., she wrote a book about learning to ride a bicycle that inspired a generation of women and girls.

Frances E. Willard

She established Equity Club, the first association of women lawyers in the U.S.

Catharine Waugh McCulloch

She operated the innovative Smith Employment Agency for almost 40 years, specializing in finding employment for African-Americans.

Carrie Crawford Smith

She established the Cook County Juvenile Court, the first of its kind in the U.S., and the Bartelme Home for Girls, which served girls under the age of 16.

Mary Bartelme

She founded the Women's Club of Evanston which has championed and funded innovative projects to support women's interests since 1889. Jane Addams and Susan B. Anthony were among the WCE's first guest speakers.

Elizabeth Boynton Harbert

After studying under Dr. Maria Montessori, she brought the Montessori method to America, becoming the first American Montessori teacher.

Anne George Millar

Leaders of the missionary movement In the late 1800s, they raised $425,000 to send missionaries throughout the world.

Elizabeth Washburn Crandon

Mary Hyde Brown Hitt

Catherine Gillespie Queal

They pioneered development standards for early childhood education and established Baker School, which has served children for 100 years.

Clara Belle Baker

Edna Dean Baker

She helped organize the Illinois Congress of Mothers, a predecessor to the Parent Teacher's Association.

Louise L. Brockaway Stanwood

Fluent in French and German, she became a correspondent for the United Press in Germany beginning in 1882 and opened a Red Cross relief station in France in WWI.

Jane Hutchins White

She wrote a petition which was subsequently signed by 7,000,000 people in forty-nine nations.

Frances E. Willard

An award winning author, she wrote over 70 children's books, including 17 biographies.

Clara Ingram Judson

They conducted and published a covert examination of the systematic exploitation of Chinese women in Hong Kong by British military personnel.

Katharine C. Bushnell, M.D.

Elizabeth Wheeler Andrew

She wrote four oratories for opera. She also published 45 songs and many plays and children's books.

Louise Ayers Garnett

She was the first American woman to found and edit a legal publication. Susan B. Anthony donated a copy of the first volume of the "Chicago Legal News" to the Law Library of Congress.

Myra Colby Bradwell

She ran the University of Chicago Settlement House and lobbied the U.S. government to study living conditions among women and children.

Mary Eliza McDowell

She was on the executive committee of the Illinois Woman Suffrage Association and successfully lobbied the State for widow's legal property rights.

Myra Colby Bradwell

She opened a hospital in her own home, the only hospital between Chicago and Milwaukee to admit African American patients.

Isabella M. Garnett, M.D.

As a member of the U.S. House, she served on the Foreign Affairs, Government Operations, and Science and Astronautics Committees.

Marguerite Stitt Church

She established the International Society for Universal English, publishing its popular magazine, "Correct English," for nearly 40 years.

Josephine Turck Baker

She was a charter member of the Illinois Women's Press Association, believed to be the oldest organization of women writers..

Frances E. Willard

A former slave, she was the first African-American woman who lived in Evanston.

Maria Murray Robinson

She was one of the first American women in uniform to serve as an ambulance driver in World War I.

Mary Chaplin Glenn

Her "Twins" series of 26 children's books highlighted themes of geography and history and sold over two million copies. They inspired Beverly Cleary.

Lucy Fitch Perkins

She formed the Benevolent Society of Evanston, a predecessor of the United Way.

Sarah Blaisdel Blanchard

She was a pioneer in the Children’s Theater movement.

Winifred Louise Ward, Ph.D.

She helped found the Woman's Christian Temperance Union which grew to become the largest organization of women in the world, ultimately growing to a worldwide membership of nearly one million women.

Elizabeth Smith Marcy

A faculty member at Northwestern University, she served as the first African-American hospital chief of staff in Illinois.

Elizabeth Webb Hill, M.D.

She was founding president of the National Council of Women, the first nationwide, nonsectarian organization of women in America.

Frances E. Willard

She served as Chairman of the Woman's Committee of the International Congress of Public Health, held in conjunction with the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

Sarah Brayton

She was instrumental in shaping Northwestern University’s music department, one of the nation’s first university-based music schools.

Cornelia Gray Lunt

She acted as an intermediary between the Potawatomi tribe and early Chicago residents.

Archange Chevallier Ouilmette

The Illinois Supreme Court dismissed her case to be awarded a law license twice, stating that “God designed the sexes to occupy different spheres of action.” She appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1873 upheld the State's decision.

Myra Colby Bradwell

She pioneered the “learning by doing” educational philosophy for children.

Clara Belle Baker

She was a pioneering anthropologist who helped establish African and African American Studies as a prominent field for scholarly research.

Frances Shapiro Herskovitz

An American Impressionist, she became an important member of the Taos, New Mexico, art colony.

Ethel Louise Coe

She was a founding member of the Business and Professional Women's Club and served as president of the Illinois State Library Association.

Ida Faye Wright

An Army corp nurse, she was among the first Americans to die in World War I.

Helen Burnett Wood

She established a pediatrics hospital in Shanghai.

Katharine C. Bushnell, M.D.

She helped establish the Northwestern University Settlement House in Chicago which became the longest continually operating settlement house in the U.S.

Emma Winner Rogers

She co-wrote the Illinois Married Women's Property Bill and the Earnings Act of 1869, giving married women control of their own earnings and property..

Myra Colby Bradwell

She was the first president of the first women's alumnae association in the world.

Mary Hyde Brown Hitt

A prolific lecturer, she was a strong proponent of preserving forest land in the Chicago area.

Eleanor Ellis Perkins

She was a founder of the Chicago Home for the Friendless in 1858 and recruited nurses for the Union Army during the Civil War.

Jane Blaikie Hoge

Physician, gynecologist, and professor of gynecology, she was one of the first ten female fellows of the American College of Surgeons.

Mary Gilruth McEwen, M.D.

She was the first Illinois woman to be elected to the Circuit Court.

Mary Bartelme

She designed the Woman's Booth at the 1933 Century of Progress World's Fair in Chicago.

Bertha Whitman

She launched 'creative dramatics,' an innovative technique in which children took part in improvised dramas without an outside audience.

Winifred Louise Ward, Ph.D.

She was instrumental in the signing of the 1829 treaty which gave the U.S. government title to most of the tribal lands in northern Illinois.

Archange Chevallier Ouilmette

They founded the Iroquois League to provide a safe, supervised and economical home for Negro working girls.

Eva Tayalor Rouse

Cora Lee Banner Watson

They established Evanston's Community Kitchen, a nationally known organization that innovated in food-related health, conservation, and social issues.

Nellie Fitch Kingsley

Helen Palmer Dawes

Elizabeth Hawley Odell

She was instrumental in the successful campaign for Illinois women's suffrage.

Catharine Waugh McCulloch

Considered instrumental to the Chicago Literary Renaissance, she was an editor of "Poetry" magazine for 25 years.

Eunice Hammond Tietjens

She was the only woman honored in the United States Capitol's Statuary Hall from 1905 until 1958.

Frances E. Willard

She founded Fresh Air Home for Girls, a respite and residence for girls in Evanston that lasted for more than 50 years.

Mary Spencer Gardner

She served as the official hostess of the 1933 Century of Progress.

Helen Palmer Dawes

Through her leadership of the WCTU, she championed citizenship for immigrants, women's rights in the workplace, and child protection.

Anna Adams Gordon

She served as president of the Illinois Woman Suffrage Association.

Elizabeth Boynton Harbert

She was the first female presidential elector.

Catharine Waugh McCulloch

She faced critics, discrimination, and legal reprisals because she provided women with straightforward information on the physiology of human reproduction.

Alice Bunker Stockham, M.D.

She founded The Cradle, an innovative adoption agency that has served families for more than 90 years.

Florence Dahl Walrath

As a U.S. Congresswoman, she advocated for civil rights and women’s rights.

Marguerite Stitt Church

She wrote the legislation that first granted Illinois wives equal guardianship rights to their children.

Catharine Waugh McCulloch

She was the fifth American woman honored on U.S. postage (after Martha Washington, Pocahontas, Susan B. Anthony, and Louisa May Alcott).

Frances E. Willard

She helped set the stage for the coeducation movement that would transform women's opportunities and access to higher education.

Mary F. Geer Haskin

She owned the largest U.S. costume rental business of the early 20th century.

Minna Moscherosch Schmidt

She was one of the first American female composers to write an opera to be presented in the U.S.

Jan Van Ettan Andrews

She opened the American Home School for Girls in Berlin in 1886.

Mary Bannister Willard

Considered an important voice in the "Holiness Movement" of the 19th century, she was a pioneer in organizing women nationwide.

Melinda Truesdell Hamline

She helped establish the first Mother's Club in the nation, a precursor to today's Parent Teacher Associations.

Grace Jones Boring

She was instrumental in establishing Evanston Day Nursery, one of the first day care centers in Illinois. EDN served Evanston children for 101 years.

Anna Rew Gross

She co-invented the Dick Aseptic Technique, which prevented infant infections from contaminated powdered milk formula.

Gladys Henry Dick, M.D.

She organized the Illinois Congress of Mothers in 1900.

Kate Way McMullen

Early Evanston women were leaders in the fields of education, law, theater, social services, health, art, music, social welfare, literature, medicine, and social justice.

Evanston continues its tradition of illustrious, inspirational women, through to the present day.

The Evanston women featured here were all born before 1900.  Information listed here is primarily derived from the materials of the Evanston Women’s History Project and Shorefront Legacy Center.

“Evanston is remarkable in nothing if not for the ability, individuality, and enterprise of its women.”