University of Chicago Library

Guide to the University of Chicago Women and Women’s Organizations Collection 1919-2000

© 2020 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


University of Chicago. Women and Women’s Organizations. Collection


1891-1980, 2015


5 linear feet (6 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


This collection contains a range of material documenting employees and employment at the University of Chicago. Materials date between 1919 and 2000, with the bulk of materials dating between 1952 and 1980.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: University of Chicago. Women and Women’s Organizations. Collection, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Scope Note

The collection is organized into three series: Series I: Administrative Perspectives and Policies, Series II: The Women at the University, and Series III: Women’s Activities and Organizations. It includes articles, correspondence, clippings, meeting minutes, reports, directories, rosters, reports, invitations, flyers, pamphlets, booklets, and other documents produced on and by women in university life.

Series I focuses on the University of Chicago’s inner dialogue and official actions regarding its women students. The focus of the series lies primarily in the first few decades of the institution, when Marion Talbot was the Dean of Women. Though Talbot wrote in 1898 that “In no institution in the world is the work of women scholar less hampered by artificial restraints; and nowhere are women freer to pursue their collegiate or university training,” the subsequent years delivered a plethora of challenges as the administration struggled to live up to its set precedent of inclusive and equal education. These challenges include President’s Harper’s proposed plan for separate instruction in 1902, a history of discriminative hiring practices, unequal distribution of aid and honors, and ongoing treatment of female faculty. This series also details administrative discussion surrounding the establishment of women’s housing, athletics, and recreational facilities, as well as the Department of Home Economics and Nursing as academic departments specifically aimed at women students. This series should be read alongside the Marion Talbot Papers; much of the material can be cross referenced.

Series II is primarily biographical in focus, sketching an unofficial picture of women’s life at the University, as well as highlighting faculty and alumnae’s stories and accomplishments through articles and correspondences. The question of what kind of person the woman at the University of Chicago was and what kind of person she out to be is continuously asked and answered throughout the series. Anecdotal material presents the variety of expectations for and receptions of women at the university, and can be characterized broadly by youthful excitement, conservative suspicion and plenty of good humor. Moreover, reminiscences from early alumnae present reflections on the role of the colligate experience within individual lives and broader communities of women at a time when the character and fate of women in higher education was still in question. The life and work of early faculty and notable alumnae further exemplify the complex ethos of women at the university.

Series III focuses on the official social life and communities of women at the University of Chicago, first by providing a brief history of the creation of official organizations beginning with sororities, then turning to original documents from various clubs, unions, councils, committees, etc. Early in university history, an established network of social activities for women was seen as critical in the university’s contribution to the student’s holistic wellbeing. The organizations subsequently created became platforms for more than mere socialization. They became platforms for women’s voices to be heard in and through arts, academics, and politics on campus.

The “Women’s University Council” material in Series III may be of particular interest in understanding the collection itself, and the history of women’s discourse at the University. These folders contain ten years’ of meeting minutes spanning from 1925 to 1935. They detail discussion by female administration and faculty regarding topics such as housing, social life, and women’s health. They give a clear picture not only of the issues relevant to women at the university, but the manner in which they were addressed.

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:

Browse finding aids by topic.

Abbott, Edith and Grace. Papers

Archival Biographical Files

Beecher House. Records

Breckinridge, Sophonisba P. Papers

Delta Sigma Women's Club. Records

Department of Buildings and Grounds. Records

Department of Physical Education and Athletics. Records

Harper, William Rainey. Papers

Office of the President. Harper, Judson and Burton Administrations. Records

Office of the President. Hutchins Administration. Records

Office of Student Activities. Records

Quadranglers. Records Alumnae Club. Records

Rickert, Edith. Papers

Service League. Records

Talbot, Marion. Papers

Wallace, Elizabeth. Papers

Subject Headings


Series I: University Policy and Practices

Series I: University Policies and Practices, presents a history of the University’s official policy and actions regarding its female students. It also details the subsequent implementation and implications within the faculty and student body. It includes correspondence, articles, speech drafts, meeting notes, and a variety of statistics and reports. Materials date between 1891 and 1977.

The materials found here should be read alongside “Early Faculty Biographical Material” in Series II as well as “Women’s University Council” in Series III. For more on the Marlene Dixon Case, see ‘Women’s Radical Action Project” in Series III, Subseries 4.

Subseries 1: Early Administrative Perspectives and Policies on Women, 1892- 1977

Box 1   Folder 1

Early Administrative Perspectives and Policies, 1904-1977

Box 1   Folder 2

Women in Administration and Faculty, 1892-1945

Box 1   Folder 3

Women in Higher-Ed Inter-University Correspondence, 1904-1939

Box 1   Folder 4

The Segregation Controversy. I, 1898-1901

Box 1   Folder 5

The Segregation Controversy. II, 1901-1902

Box 1   Folder 6

The Segregation Controversy. III, 1902-1919

Box 1   Folder 7

Administrative Policy - Miscellaneous, 1967-1976

Subseries 2: Early Academics and Accommodations for Women

Box 1   Folder 8

Home Economics, 1892-1952

Box 1   Folder 9

Nursing, 1917-1934

Box 1   Folder 10

Women’s Housing, 1894-1967

Box 1   Folder 11

Women’s Athletics, 1897-1974

Box 1   Folder 12

Women’s Recreational Facilities, 1900-1955

Subseries 3: Relevant Statistics and Reports on Women in the University, 1891-1975

Box 1   Folder 13

The Student Body -Data, 1892-1924

Box 1   Folder 14

Financial Aid - Data, 1892-1937

Box 1   Folder 15

Honors - Data, 1891-1975

Box 1   Folder 16

Giving - Data, 1892-1971

Box 1   Folder 17

“Women in the University of Chicago: Report of the Committee of University Women,” with critical response, 1970

Subseries 4: Oversized Newspaper, 1977

Box 2

“The University’s First and Only Civil War,” marked and unmarked copies, 1977

Subseries 5: Later Discrimination Cases, 1969-1970

Box 3   Folder 1

The Marlene Dixon Case, 1969

Box 3   Folder 2

The Barbara Monter Firing, 1970

Series II: The Women at the University

Series II: The Women at the University, details the lives of students, alumnae, and faculty within university history and campus life. This series focusses on particular figures and unofficial narratives to compliment the broader issues and official events in Series I and III. It includes correspondence, articles, personal anecdotes, and a variety of biographical profiles. Materials date between 1896 and 1976.

Subseries 1: Women in University Life - General, 1896-1964, 2015

Box 3   Folder 3

Women and Campus Life - Articles, 1909-1957

Box 3   Folder 4

Women and Campus Life- M. Talbot Correspondence, 1896-1910

Box 3   Folder 5

“A Woman’s Guide to UofC,” 1964

Box 3   Folder 5A

Women Leaders of the University of Chicago trading cards, produced by College Instruction and Outreach group, University Library, 2015

Subseries 2: Early Faculty Biographical Material, 1892-1966

Box 3   Folder 6

Abbot, Edith and Grace, 1924-1964

Box 3   Folder 7

Breckenridge, Sophonisba, 1917-1942

Box 3   Folder 8

Dudley, Gertrude, 1934-1966

Box 3   Folder 9

Flint, Edith Foster, 1916-1949

Box 3   Folder 10

Palmer, Alice Freeman, undated

Box 3   Folder 11

Phillips, Melba Newell, 1962

Box 3   Folder 12

Mayer, Maria Goeppert, 1964

Box 3   Folder 13

Reynolds, Myra, 1915-1937

Box 3   Folder 14

Rickert, Edith, 1938-1948

Box 3   Folder 15

Slye, Maud, 1935

Box 3   Folder 16

Talbot, Marion, 1892-1950

Box 3   Folder 17

Wallace, Elizabeth, 1923-1947

Subseries 3: Alumnae Biographical Material, 1893-1976

Box 3   Folder 18

Alumnae Profiles, 1921-1976

Box 3   Folder 19

Alumnae Reminiscences. I, 1893-1940

Box 3   Folder 20

Alumnae Reminiscences. II, 1941-1976

Series III: Women’s Activities and Organizations

Series III, Women’s Activities and Organizations, presents a picture of the official social life of women at the University of Chicago through the lens of specific organizations. The scope of the material ranges from programs for dramatic productions to calls for political action. It includes articles, clippings, and a vast amount of original materials produced by the organizations themselves. Materials date from 1897 to 1980.

Subseries 1: Social Life and University Activities - General, 1908-1975

Box 3   Folder 21

Social Life and University Activities - Articles, 1908-1975

Box 3   Folder 22

Social Life and University Activities - Clippings, 1922-1930

Box 4

Oversized Newspaper Clippings, 1925-1933

Subseries 2: Early Formation of Women’s Organizations, 1892-1936

Box 5    Folder 1

Sororities - Creation and Reception, 1892-1936

Box 5    Folder 2

Women’s Union and Beyond, 1903-1926

Subseries 3: Community Involvement, 1897-1946

Box 5   Folder 3

University Settlement, 1897-1913

Box 5   Folder 4

Women in the Wars, 1917-1943

Box 5   Folder 5

Philippine Women’s University, 1946

Subseries 4: Original Materials from Activities and Organizations, 1892-1980

Box 5    Folder 6

Achoth. 1926-1927

Box 5    Folder 7

College Equal Suffrage League, 1911

Box 5    Folder 8

Cosmopolitan Club, 1911-1948

Box 5    Folder 9

Dames Club, 1948

Box 5    Folder 10

Esoteric, 1914

Box 5    Folder 11

Eta Sigma Phi, undated

Box 5    Folder 12

Federation of University Women, 1923-1925

Box 5    Folder 13

Graduate Committee on the Study of Women, 1980

Box 5    Folder 14

Interclub Council, 1951

Box 5    Folder 15

Quadranglers, 1912-1915

Box 5    Folder 16

Reynolds Club, undated

Box 5    Folder 17

Sigma Club, 1940-1969

Box 5    Folder 18

Spelman House History, 1910

Box 5    Folder 19

Women Fellow’s Club, 1897-1900

Box 5    Folder 20

Women’s Athletic Association. I, 1904-1971

Box 6   Folder 1

Women’s Athletic Association. II, 1906-1979

Box 6   Folder 2

Women’s Club of Chicago, 1892-1929

Box 6   Folder 3

Women’s Exchange of Chicago, 1910

Box 6   Folder 4

Women of the College of Literature, 1906

Box 6   Folder 5

Women’s Liberation, undated

Box 6   Folder 6

Women’s Radical Action Project (W.R.A.P), 1969

Box 6   Folder 7

Women of the Science College, 1909

Box 6   Folder 8

Women’s Peace Party, 1916

Box 6   Folder 9

The Women’s Union, 1902-1907

Box 6   Folder 10

Women’s University Council. I, 1925-1926

Box 6   Folder 11

Women’s University Council. II, 1926-1927

Box 6   Folder 12

Women’s University Council. III, 1927-1929

Box 6   Folder 13

Women’s University Council. IV, 1929-1931

Box 6   Folder 14

Women’s University Council. V, 1931-1932

Box 6   Folder 15

Women’s University Council. VI, 1932-1935

Box 6   Folder 16

Y.W.C.A, 1898-1946

Box 6   Folder 17

Young Women’s Christian League, 1914-1915

Box 6   Folder 18

Miscellaneous Materials, undated