Practical Work: Chicago Woman’s Club Reformers, Criminal Women, and Delinquent Children, 1876-1920

As a powerful organization of women committed to reform, education, and philanthropy, the Chicago Woman’s Club (CWC) played a critical role in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Chicago.  The pages below explore how the Club emerged during a period of high hope and intense anxiety in Chicago.  They then investigate the women of the CWC and how they went about the “practical work” of reform.  In particular, this exhibit explores how and why clubwomen worked with criminal women and delinquent children.  Ultimately, “Practical Work” considers the ways in which clubwomen shaped ideas about crime and proper womanhood at the turn of the twentieth century. 

“Practical Work” draws heavily from the collection of CWC annual announcements and images at the Women and Leadership Archives at Loyola University Chicago, in addition to utilizing Club minutes housed at the Chicago History Museum. 


Created by Rachel Boyle, PhD student in U.S. and Public History at Loyola University Chicago. Sponsored by the Women and Leadership Archives and the Carolyn Farrell, BVM, Professorship in Women and Leadership at Loyola University Chicago.