Thursday, June 23, 2016

Walking the Trail of Woman's History

With Hillary Clinton presumably becoming the first woman to run for president from either major political party, it’s good to refresh our memories about all the efforts that came before to make her candidacy possible. The Evanston History Center gives walking tours of the historic points in Evanstonian women’s history and I am very glad that I joined them for that walk on Saturday June 18th. Most of the Evanston History Center’s historic tours begin at the Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood Street, Evanston, Illinois but this one began on the lawn of the Frances Willard House.

The Frances Willard House

Besides learning more about Frances Willard, I learned about the women’s history of Evanston. Evanston grew up around Northwestern University, a college that was associated with the Methodist Church and preached abstinence. Women were welcomed in Evanston as both college students and career women as early as the 1860’s.  Northwestern University became the third university in the United States to become coed in 1870 after Oberlin and Antioch.

Because of the atmosphere created in Evanston encouraging women to have educations and careers, many dynamic women moved to Evanston in the late 1800’s. On the walking tour, we saw the houses of many who had lived in Evanston and made important contributions to women’s history. We were told that the Evanston History Center has many documents about these women’s lives that are available for reading there. I plan to go there and research this in more depth as the other women whose houses we also saw on the walking tour are too numerous to mention here. 

With Hillary Clinton presumably getting the Democratic nomination we see how far we have come and how much further we still have to go. I have to say, however, that we got there behind numerous other countries that have elected women heads of state long before this. Some that come to mind are Germany, England, Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, India, and Pakistan just to name a few. And this history tour reminded me that it didn’t happen here in the United States or anywhere else by accident. Women have been working on it for more than a century. It’s about time.

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