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Thursday, September 12, 2024

How to Celebrate Women’s History Month in Chicago

Every March, Women’s History month gives us a chance to step back and appreciate the amazing women in our lives. Chicago has been home to many historically important women — from women who impacted our nation’s trajectory to women of today leading us forward. Here are three ways you can honor the achievements of local women this month.

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum is located on the University of Illinois – Chicago campus. The house memorializes the work of Chicago’s great social reformer, Jane Addams. Addams is sometimes called “the mother of social work” for her work as co-founder of the Hull-House social settlement in the late nineteenth century. Hull-House provided numerous services for the Near West Side, including day care, an employment bureau, English classes, art programs and more. Hull-House was also involved in projects to help immigrants and advocate for child labor laws.

Among her many accomplishments, Addams was the first female American Nobel Prize winner and was known for taking a feminist stance on the United States’ involvement in World War I and the peace movement. She also was the recipient to the first-ever Yale honorary degree.

If you’re interested in planning a visit to the Hull House, the museum is currently running a few interactive exhibits including an exercise in voting, citizenship and more. It is open five days a week, excluding Saturday and Monday. The museum asks for a suggested donation of $5.

Frances Willard House Museum & Archives

Located in Evanston, the Frances Willard House Museum just reopened for tours this month after finishing a major restoration project. The museum was the previous residence of Frances Willard, who had a major role in the woman’s temperance movement and the founding of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the “largest organization of women in the nineteenth century.

Her work with the WCTU included advocacy for women’s suffrage, education reforms and labor reforms. Willard also had a role in the advancement of women’s education and was the former president of the Evanston College for Ladies. This would eventually become part of Northwestern University. If you’re interested in learning more about Willard’s life, the museum is open every Sunday from March to December. Admission is $10. Learn more here.

Ida B. Wells Residence

Ida B. Wells was a journalist and activist, and lived in Chicago for many years. She spent her life fighting racism, and was also an advocate for women’s suffrage. During her career, Wells traveled across the U.S. and abroad, speaking out against lynching, segregation and racial disparities in education. She also pushed for Willard and the WCTU to incorporate anti-racist work into their advocacy, with mixed results.

While Wells’ Bronzeville home is a private residence, not a museum, it is a national historic landmark. Though you can’t visit her home, this month is the perfect time to learn more about this prominent Chicagoan.

Celebrate Women in Your Own Life

You don’t have to go to museum to appreciate the amazing things women have done and continue to do daily. Take a moment this month to do something special for a loved one, trusted friend or someone else special to you. Ask the women in your life about their own history, and encourage them to share their stories. You might learn something new about your own family.

However you choose to celebrate women’s history this month, don’t forget to remember the women who have gotten you where you are today. Tell us about the important women in your life on Facebook and Twitter.

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