Race and Rights: Wells, Willard and Addams

Who gets to be a citizen? How did debates in Chicago around voting, lynching and women’s rights break down across racial lines? The panel discussion will focus on the historical breakdowns in feminism and race for Frances Willard and Jane Addams, and tell the story of Ida B. Wells’ efforts to hold them each accountable.

Featuring author Michelle Duster, great-granddaughter of journalist and anti-lynching advocate Ida B. Wells; historian and author Rima Lunin Schultz; Leslie Harris, Professor, Northwestern University Department of History and Lori Osborne, Museum Director, Frances Willard House Museum.

This program is a partnership between Frances Willard House Museum, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and the history department at Northwestern University in commemoration of the 2020 Suffrage Centennial. Other supporters for this program include Norman W. Harris Lecture Fund, NU; Department of African American Studies, NU; and The Nicholas D. Chabraja Center for Historical Studies, NU. This event is also presented in partnership with Reaching Across Illinois Library System, Aurora Public Library, Gail Borden Public Library, Arlington Heights Memorial Library, and Schaumburg Township District Library.

Click below to receive a link to participate in this FREE virtual event.

Past Events

These are just some of the many suffrage anniversary events that happened in 2020.

Rights, Responsibilities, and Roadblocks: Critical Stories Leading to the Passage of the 19th Amendment and Beyond

Recent headlines tell of reduced polling places, names taken off voter rolls, and requests for identification in places where none is required. One hundred years after the 19th Amendment affirmed women’s right to vote in the United States, many of these issues have become even more pressing. Roadblocks to exercising the right to vote still exist today, especially amongst minorities and the under-educated. 

In honor of the 19th Amendment Centennial, this event on Tuesday, August 25 at 7:00 pm (CDT) will include a thought-provoking discussion of what barriers still exist, preventing American voices from being heard. 

Register at

Panelists include the Honorable Judge Carole Kamin Bellows, Illinois State Senator Laura Fine, and writer/historian Rima Lunin Schultz. The Honorable Judge Abbey Romanek, child of Survivors and Board Member, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, will introduce panelists. Lori Osborne, director of the Evanston Women’s History Project and the Frances Willard House Museum, will serve as the panel moderator.   

This program is hosted by Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in partnership with the Woman’s  Club of Evanston and Women’s Vote 100 Evanston. 

Evanston Women and the Fight for the Vote – Facebook Live and Exhibit Re-Opening

For the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment and Women’s Equality Day on Wednesday, August 26th, Evanston Women and the Fight for the Vote will reopen to the public with two events –

  • at 10 am Lori Osborne, curator of the exhibit, will present exhibit highlights via Facebook Live and unveil the National Votes for Women Trail historic marker for Evanston suffragist Catharine Waugh McCulloch
  • exhibit viewing from 12 – 4 p.m. at the Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood Street. Reservations are required due to space limitations. More details to follow.

Telling the story of Evanston women and their strategic and critical work for women’s suffrage, the exhibit features archival resources, artifacts and costumes from the EHC collection.

“Determined to Rise”: Chicago’s African American Women in the Fight for the Vote

A Conversation with Tikia K. Hamilton, Wanda Hendricks, and Kenvi Phillips

Wednesday, August 26, 2020, 3 to 4 pm. This program will be held virtually on Zoom. Register for free in advance here. Event details here.

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Black women played an active role in the struggle for universal suffrage. Chicago was a vibrant scene of political meetings, conventions, and organized societies where African American women outlined strategies to gain the right to vote. Yet despite their efforts, they were often marginalized from these struggles on the basis of their race.

In a conversation moderated by the Newberry’s Liesl Olson and co-sponsored by the National Women’s History Museum, scholars Tikia K. Hamilton, Wanda Hendricks, and Kenvi Phillips will explore the role of African American women in the fight for suffrage.

This event is cosponsored by the National Women’s History Museum.

On the Way to Suffrage: Chicago Women and Politics, 1865 to 1920

How did Chicago women win suffrage for themselves and other women? Who were these politicians and activists, and what did they accomplish on the long path toward suffrage from the years after the Civil War until passage of the Nineteenth Amendment? The answers–from securing local elections that were open to women as early as 1880, to working behind the scenes as loyal party operatives to shape the Republican party ticket–might surprise us. Long before the Nineteenth Amendment women in Chicago–Frances Willard, Ida B. Wells, Ella Stewart, and Catharine Waugh McCulloch–spoke, wrote, canvassed, rallied, lobbied, negotiated, and voted their way to full suffrage in 1920.

Speaker is Rachel Bohlmann librarian at the University of Notre Dame. She previously served as Director of Public Programs at the Newberry Library.

  • Wednesday, September 16th, 7:00 PM  8:00 PM
  • Online via Zoom

Details at

Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers Book Launch with Martha S. Jones

Join Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and the Frances Willard House Museum in conversation with Martha S. Jones author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote and Insisted on Equality for All (Basic/2020) and Leslie Harris (moderator), professor, Department of History, Northwestern University.

Thursday, September 17 – 6-8 pm – FREE

About the Book: In the standard story, the suffrage crusade began in Seneca Falls in 1848 and ended with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. But this overwhelmingly white women’s movement did not win the vote for most black women. Securing their rights required a movement of their own. In Vanguard, acclaimed historian Martha S. Jones offers a new history of African American women’s political lives in America. She recounts how they defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons. From the earliest days of the republic to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and beyond, Jones excavates the lives and work of black women — Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Fannie Lou Hamer, and more— who were the vanguard of women’s rights, calling on America to realize its best ideals.

A partnership between Frances Willard House Museum, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and Northwestern University in commemoration of the 2020 Suffrage Centennial.

Tickets here.

100th Anniversary VIRTUAL Celebration – LWVIL

The League of Women Voters of Illinois (LWVIL) will celebrate the 100th anniversary of defending democracy and empowering voters with a 100th Anniversary VIRTUAL Celebration on September 24, 2020. The theme for the event is “Power The Vote.”

LWVIL has a long and rich history that was forged from the determination and dedication of astounding women. ​The event webpage will be updated with details and registration information as they develop.

On Monday, August 17th from 4-6 pm, join WTTW for a virtual community screening and conversation of The Vote. After the screening, Sylvia Ewing, Director of Strategic Communications, Marketing, and Outreach at Elevate Energy will moderate a live conversation featuring Lori Osborne, director of the Evanston Women’s History Project and Frances Willard House Museum in Evanston; Alice Palmer, former Illinois State Senator; and Rebecca Sive, political analyst and women’s leadership strategist and historian. The panel will discuss Illinois’ role in the Women’s Suffrage Movement, how race impacted Women’s Suffrage and voting today.

If you missed the community screening and panel discussion – you can see the discussion at

The Vote will re-air on WTTW beginning Tuesday September 8 at 8pm and will run there for three weeks. You can also find it online via PBS Passport and Amazon Prime.

On Friday, February 14, 2020, the League of Women Voters of Illinois (LWVIL) celebrated a century as a grassroots nonpartisan civic organization. The centennial anniversary took place at the Congress Plaza Hotel in the Gold Room, the very room in which the League of Women Voters of the U.S. was founded in 1920. The event included remarks from community influencers and local and state legislators, a presentation of a state and city proclamations marking the significance of this date, and a celebratory birthday cake.

To see photos and video from the event visit go here.

The 2020 anniversary year started on January 1st with women’s suffrage a highlight of the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. Hundreds of marchers dressed as suffragists and a suffrage anniversary float was covered with yellow roses (which were a symbol of the suffrage movement). One of the marchers representing Illinois was the descendent of an Illinois suffragist – Catharine Waugh McCulloch. Another was a descendent of Ida B. Wells. You can find more about both McCulloch and Wells in the Biography section of this website. For more information about the parade, go here.

On Monday, June 10, 2019 Illinois League members and supporters gathered at Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago for the commemoration of June 10th, 2019 as Women’s Right to Vote Day. Several dignitaries from all levels of government were there and the day included a short speech from LWVIL Executive Director Audra Wilson about the importance of the League in securing voting rights for ALL citizens. This special celebration was to recognize that on June 10th, 1919, Illinois became the FIRST to ratify the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote.