• 25 Oct 2013 4:28 PM | Anonymous member

    In June 1913, Illinois granted women the right to vote. The centennial of this watershed moment inspired us to look at Chicago-area collections that provide insight into the suffrage movement and other aspects of women’s history. During National Archives Month (October), we are featuring posts by guest authors who are familiar with some of these collections. Repository information is at the end of each story.

    Janet Olson introduces the wealth of material held at the Frances Willard House and Museum in the final post of our series. Olson is the Assistant University Archivist at Northwestern University and the volunteer Archivist for the Frances E. Willard Memorial Library and Archives.

    The WCTU and Woman Suffrage: A Right or a Duty?
    Janet Olson

    From the 1880s until the passage of the 19th amendment, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) played a significant role in the campaign for women’s right to vote. Woman suffrage had not been part of the organization’s original mission, however. WCTU members -- mostly middle-class women -- were generally either opposed to, or non-committal about, becoming involved in the “unwomanly” sphere of politics. But when Frances Willard -- who had always believed that women should be able to vote -- became the second president of the WCTU in 1879, things changed. Willard coined the phrase “Home Protection” to convince women that voting was not just a right -- it was a duty, in keeping with their traditional responsibilities for protecting home and family. Women’s votes could keep saloons from opening in their towns, and liquor from being sold to their husbands and children. In 1881, the WCTU officially added the endorsement of woman suffrage to its mission. After Willard’s death in 1898, the national suffrage organizations distanced themselves from the WCTU, concerned that the connection with temperance was counterproductive, but the WCTU continued to promote suffrage as key to the success of its own mission: the prohibition of alcohol.

    The complex, and often overlooked, story of the WCTU’s involvement with suffrage -- from conflict to conviction, from partnering with the major women’s rights groups to mounting its own campaign -- is thoroughly documented, at the state, national, and international levels, in the Frances Willard Memorial Library & Archives. Significant resources include annual meeting minutes, reports of the Franchise Department, editorials and articles in the weekly Union Signal newspaper, pamphlets and publications, biographical information, and Home Protection materials. Notable correspondence includes a letter from Susan B. Anthony congratulating Willard on speaking out for the suffrage cause.

    LEFT: Willard with a petition, circa 1880s. RIGHT: Home protection manual, 1879. All images courtesy of the Frances Willard Memorial Library & Archives, Evanston, Illinois.

    Frances Willard Memorial Library & Archives
    The Frances Willard Historical Association
    1730 Chicago Avenue
    Evanston, Illinois 60201

    Library and archives are open by appointment only

  • 18 Oct 2013 2:27 PM | Anonymous member
    In June 1913, Illinois granted women the right to vote. The centennial of this watershed moment inspired us to look at Chicago-area collections that provide insight into the suffrage movement and other aspects of women’s history. During National Archives Month (October), we are featuring posts by guest authors who are familiar with some of these collections. Repository information is at the end of each story.

    Kristin Emery provides an overview of the materials held at Loyola University-Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives in the second post of our series. Emery was the Assistant Archivist at the Women and Leadership Archives until recently. She is now the Research and Academic Programs Manager at the Newberry Library.

    Advocating for Women’s History at LUC
    Kristin Emery

    At the Women and Leadership Archives, an institution affiliated with Loyola University Chicago and the Ann Ida Gannon Center for Women and Leadership, documenting women’s lived experiences is central to our mission. Our oldest collection, The Chicago Women’s Club Records, dates back to 1877 and contains full runs of the club’s annual announcements and bulletins. These materials reveal the motivations and agendas of the reform-minded group as they advocated change in Chicago. The materials also provide a broader context for women’s activism in the period leading up to the final push for women’s suffrage in Illinois.

    With the exception of the Chicago Women’s Club Records, most collections at the Women and Leadership Archives date from the mid- to late twentieth century. Our collections cover various topics including, but certainly not limited to: Catholic women, women in higher education, women religious, women and social justice, second-wave feminism, women in art and performance, women in science, and woman politicians. The wide array of materials at the Women and Leadership Archives documents women’s contributions and experiences in the century following the Suffrage Movement.

    The collections housed in our facilities have the potential to reveal personal opinions and behind-the-scenes tactics of Illinois suffragists. Preserving and making available correspondence, meeting minutes, and other unpublished materials from this critical moment in Illinois history will allow us to move beyond the widely-known story of Women’s Suffrage and increase our historical understanding of the suffrage movement.

    As the only repository in Illinois that focuses specifically on women’s history, we encourage our colleagues to think about the materials in their collections that could tell unknown stories about the Suffrage Movement, women’s history more broadly, Illinois history, and history related to other unique subjects contained within their holdings. The unpublished materials preserved within our walls have the power to contextualize and enrich our understanding of history, and we as archivists have the skills to facilitate the process.

    Women and Leadership Archives
    Loyola University Chicago
    1032 W. Sheridan Road
    Chicago, Illinois 60660

    Please consult the website for hours and access information.
  • 15 Oct 2013 9:50 PM | Audra V. Adomenas
    The minutes from the September 12 CAA Steering Committee Meeting have been approved and are available to view online here.
  • 14 Oct 2013 4:17 PM | Anonymous member

    In June 1913, Illinois granted women the right to vote. The centennial of this watershed moment inspired us to look at Chicago-area collections that provide insight into the suffrage movement and other aspects of women’s history. During National Archives Month (October), we are featuring posts by guest authors who are familiar with some of these collections. Repository information is at the end of each story.

    Erin Hvizdak shares her experiences researching the Women’s Club of Evanston in the first post of our series. Hvizdak is an Adjunct Librarian at the College of Lake County and a Circulation Librarian at Morton College. She has been a volunteer at the Frances Willard Memorial Library and Archives since early 2012.

    In search of the Woman’s Club of Evanston
    Erin Hvizdak

    During the Progressive Era, a thriving “Woman’s Club Movement” was underway. Affiliated with schools, churches, and communities, women -- usually educated and of high economic means -- came together to improve the conditions of society, especially as increasing urbanization and industrialization brought a host of health and safety concerns.

    Hundreds of woman’s clubs have come and gone in Chicago, but their records are sparse. When I was first hired to write a history book for the Woman’s Club of Evanston (WCE), founded in 1889, I had no idea how lucky I was to have such an abundance of records available at Northwestern University, including numerous photographs and slides as well as a nearly complete set of the monthly newsletter, first published in 1911. Even more materials are stored at the WCE clubhouse and at the Evanston History Center. The WCE created an archives committee in 1916 to keep its records and collect publicity each year, pasting materials into annual scrapbooks. Rather than being transferred from one member’s home to another, these records resided in the clubhouse, from the time construction was completed in 1913, until most of them were transferred to Northwestern in 1991 and 2009.

    The WCE contributed to the start of numerous organizations and systems in Evanston that are taken for granted today. The Club donated more than $3000 to Evanston’s first hospital (1892), provided the first salary of the area’s visiting nurse (1897), paid the first probation worker in Evanston (1902), and paid the city’s first food inspector (1912). These are only a few examples of the activities that WCE and other woman’s clubs undertook to improve their neighborhoods. While the women were no doubt concerned with protecting their own homes and class status, they nonetheless played a leading role in the formation of many social and health services. Many, but not all, have since been taken over and supported by government or corporate entities. Their origins have been forgotten, credit has been given to the other agencies, and the activities of the early woman’s movement are often condensed to a celebration of suffrage. It remains to be seen whether more records of these early woman’s clubs will turn up, but if they do, they will provide a fascinating look into the foundations of Chicago’s (and the nation’s) administration.

    IMAGE: WCE Newsletter, September 1912. Courtesy of Northwestern University Archives.

    Deering Library, Room 110
    1970 Campus Dr.
    Evanston, Illinois 60208

    The archives is open to the public. Please consult the NU website for hours and access information.

    The Dawes House
    225 Greenwood Street
    Evanston, Illinois 60201

    Please consult the History Center website for hours and access information. Construction at The Dawes House this fall may affect access.

  • 09 Oct 2013 4:04 PM | Anonymous member

    Go down to the basement and dig out your Super 8 memories of that interminable trip to Idaho or that embarrassing 16mm footage of your mother's rockin' bat mitzvah and bring them to the Chicago History Museum on Saturday, 19 October for Home Movie Day. Jointly presented for the third year in a row by Chicago Film Archives and the Northwest Chicago Film Society, Home Movie Day offers Chicagoans the opportunity to gather together and share their celluloid histories.


    All Chicagoans are encouraged to attend and participate in Home Movie Day. This year's edition will highlight Bronzeville and Ravenswood Manor. Unique home movies will resurrect the rich history of Bronzeville's storied performance hall, The Forum, and offer glimpses of surprisingly dangerous boyhood diversions along the Chicago River, circa 1970. And keep an eye out for home movies of Olympic medalist Ralph Metcalfe.


    You bring the films, and event organizers will inspect them, project them, and offer tips on storage, preservation, and video transfer--all free of charge. And best of all, you get to watch them with an enthusiastic audience, equally hungry for local history. If you don’t have a film to bring, you're welcome to stop by and just watch other people's home movies. And if you're a walking encyclopedia of forgotten Chicago landmarks, eateries, and parades, your commentary will be much appreciated!


    Event Info

    Where: Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark Street, Chicago IL

    When: Saturday, 19 October, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

    Admission: Free

    More information is available at


    Q: What film formats can I bring to Home Movie Day?

    A: 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8 can be inspected and projected. Other formats (28mm, 9.5mm, etc.) can’t be projected but people will be available to help you find a safe, cost-effective way to view these prints.


    Q: How many home movies can I bring?
    A: Bring as many films as you'd like, but only one reel from each participant will be screened until everyone has had a chance to see their home movies. After that, second helpings are totally fine--especially in Kodachrome.


    Q: Will I get my home movies back?
    A: Yes. Event organizers just inspect and project your home movies and return them to you in comparable condition. Broken perforations or cracked frames may even be fixed! Keep in mind that decades-old films are fragile and there's an inherent (though slight) risk of damage during any projection. If organizers feel that a film cannot be safely projected, they will not screen it.


    Q: Can I donate my home movies to the Chicago Film Archives?
    A: The Chicago Film Archives would be happy to discuss options for donating your old, unwanted home movies to its ever-growing collection.

  • 14 Sep 2013 9:08 AM | Anonymous member


    The CAA Events Subcommittee thanks all who attended the Archives Salon on 12 September 2013. We had a very interesting discussion about archival privilege and donor rights from a legal standpoint, and what that means for the archives profession. There was a great group and lively discussion, and the Events Subcommittee is looking forward to planning salons more frequently in the future.


    Again, thank you to those who attended, and we missed those of you that could not!


    If you missed this event, don’t worry – there will be more events throughout the year at a variety of dates, times, and locations. Keep an eye on the CAA website for more information on upcoming events!

  • 12 Sep 2013 9:22 PM | Audra V. Adomenas
    The minutes from the July 30 CAA Steering Committee Meeting have been approved and are available to view online here.
  • 10 Sep 2013 8:23 PM | Anonymous member


    The Chicago & North Western Historical Society recently received a large collection of slides that visually document ore transportation in Upper Michigan and freight cars. The historical society collects materials related to the Chicago & North Western and many related rail lines. Its collections provide images and information about rail companies, railroad equipment, and help tell the story of the many Midwestern and Great Plains towns that were home to stations on the routes of the Chicago & North Western and its predecessors.

    Learn more about the Historical Society, its activities, and its collections at



    TOP: A Peninsula Division crew poses at the Stager, Michigan, depot in February 1914. Photo by Strecher.

    BOTTOM: A train approaches the station at Arpin, Wisconsin, in 1915.

    Images courtesy of the Chicago & North Western Historical Society. Images shown here are not part of the recent donation.

    Does your institution have news to share? You can send announcements about exhibits, brag about newly acquired materials, promote recently processed collections, and more. Submit your institution's news to; subject line News.

  • 02 Sep 2013 5:56 PM | Anonymous member
    As we begin to plan CAA programs for the coming months, we want to take a moment to thank the many organizations that donated space for our events in 2012 and in the first half of 2013. Because of the generosity of these organizations and their staff, we have been able to offer a variety of programs throughout the  Chicago  area and support an active and engaged archives community.

    We encourage our members and potential members to browse the archival collections at these institutions, especially when access is made possible though exhibits and online collections. Of course, access varies from institution to institution so be sure to check the policies and procedures online before heading out to visit in person.

    • American  College of Surgeons
    • Chicago  History  Museum  
    • Chicago  State  University
    • Columbia  College  Chicago , Center for Black Music Research
    • DePaul  University
    • Highland Park  Historical Society
    • Medical Library Association
    • Motorola Corporation
    • National Archives at Chicago
    • Northwestern University
    • Read/Write Library
    • Roosevelt University
    • Union League Club of Chicago
    • University of Chicago
    • Wheaton  College  


    IMAGE: Al Capone’s guilty verdict at the National Archives at Chicago.
  • 24 Aug 2013 9:45 AM | Anonymous member

    Jakob VanLammeren was recently hired as the Archivist/Collections Librarian at the Leather Archives & Museum. Read more in the press release at


    Don't be shy...If you’ve earned a degree, presented at a conference, published an article, started a new job, or completed another professional achievement, let us know and we’ll include it in next month’s Member News. Submit your information to; subject line Member News.

Follow CAA on Twitter or Facebook

© Chicago Area Archivists

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software