Guide to the Women's Educational Aid Association

Collection Title: Women's Educational Aid Association
Dates: 1871-2000
Identification: 55/38
Collector: Women's Educational Aid Association
Extent: 12 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The Women’s Educational Aid Association (WEAA) was organized in 1871 as the Educational Association, founded by Evanston women to help promote the higher education of deserving students at the Evanston College for Ladies. The Women’s Educational Aid Association records document the activities and operation of the organization. The series fills twelve boxes, including one card file box and three drop front boxes, and spans the period 1871-2000. Records are arranged in nine categories: Historical Material; Board of Directors; Officer and Committee Reports; Meeting Lists, Minutes and Reports; Administrative Records; Financial Records; House Records; Scrapbooks; and Scholars (Beneficiaries) Information Cards.
Acquisition Information: The Women's Educational Aid Association Records were donated to the University Archives, in five separate accessions, via Mark Burnette and Eden Pearlman of the Evanston Historical Society (November 22, 1996 and January 31, 1997, as Accessions #96-210 and #97-10, respectively) and Marti Bjornson (November 5, 1997, July 30, 1999, and March 17, 2000, as Accessions #97-199, 99-128, and 00-145, respectively).
Processing Information: Vanessa L. Smith; May, 2000.
Separated Materials: Approximately 2 cubic feet of duplicate and extraneous records were discarded. In addition, approximately 175 photographs dating between 1950s-1990s were separated and added to the University Archives' Photographic Collection under the general heading "Women's Educational Aid Association."
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

The Women's Educational Aid Association (WEAA) was organized in 1871 as the Educational Association, founded by Evanston women to help promote the higher education of deserving students at the Evanston College for Ladies. The founders' objective, according to the Association's records, was “to investigate the various systems of aiding needy students,…to canvass the claims of applicants for aid and to recommend to the College such as shall seem worthy of help; to have a friendly oversight of such young women while here, and to assist them in obtaining situations where they may aid themselves either during or after their school years.”

The Educational Association was interested in the material and spiritual welfare of the students it assisted, furnishing monetary grants and encouraging participation in the YWCA, Student Volunteers, and other benevolent enterprises. They referred to the students they assisted as #x201C;scholars.” The founding women of the association included Mrs. J. A. Pearsons, Mrs. J. M. B. Gillespie, Mrs. Dawson Kerr, Mrs. H. B. Hurd, Mrs. O. Huse, Mrs. I. R. Hitt, Mrs. J. E. Lunt, and Miss Frances E. Willard, the president of the Evanston College for Ladies.

In 1872, Mrs. Huse and Mrs. Hitt offered and solicited donations for the purchase of a home for the scholars of the Educational Association. Furnished mostly through donations, the home, named “College Cottage,” at Orrington and Clark, was operated as a self-governing cooperative for female students. The women paid $2 per week and shared in the housework. Occupants of the home consisted of a matron, teacher, and six students. A member of the Association made monthly visits to monitor the scholars' well-being as well as the routine functioning of the house.

When Northwestern University became coeducational in 1873, the Educational Association as originally conceived ceased to exist. However, the Aid Fund Committee of the Educational Association, which had recently been incorporated as a separate entity, was still needed and assumed the name and functions of the WEAA.

In 1879, the Board voted to aid women students in the form of loans rather than outright grants. In 1886, the College Cottage was enlarged and improved and in 1901, in honor of Mrs. J. A. Pearsons' 30 years of dedicated service, the Cottage was renamed Pearsons Hall. In June 1901, Dr. D. K. Pearsons offered to build an additional dormitory, to be named in honor of his sister-in-law, Miss Julia A. Chapin (Chapin Hall), on the condition that the land be furnished by the University and control of the structure be vested in the WEAA. The gift was accepted provisionally: WEAA management of Chapin Hall could be terminated through notification of the WEAA Board if found unprofitable or undesirable.

By 1904, over 1400 young women had received educational assistance from the WEAA. “Home Scholarships,” first offered in 1904, provided free housing to young women in Chapin and Pearsons Halls; by 1922, more than fifty girls lived in WEAA halls free of charge for one year.

Morse House, located near Pearsons Hall, was purchased in 1912 and accommodated twenty-five students as well as an infirmary. Eventually seniors and juniors were housed in Chapin Hall and sophomores and freshmen in Pearsons and Morse.

Even after sorority houses were built on campus, the WEAA halls continued to operate. In 1929, however, the WEAA sold Morse House to the University to finance repairs at Pearsons Hall. During the Depression, although emergency scholarships were awarded, there were not enough undergraduate girls to fill the halls. For the first time, graduate students were admitted to residency.

1933 was financially the most difficult year for the Association. One of its investments had stopped paying dividends, residents were unable to pay their board, and the number of residents declined. In July, 1933, the WEAA decided to close Pearsons Hall; in 1935, the building was sold to Northwestern University and the revenue used to remodel Chapin Hall. The conditions of sale stipulated that when the WEAA needed more housing for its scholars, the University would furnish it.

When the United States entered World War II, the WEAA extended its mission to include student nurses at Evanston Hospital. During this time, as part of the war effort, Chapin Hall residents rationed their use of canned goods and meats; with careful planning, no hardships were experienced. After the War, faced with many requests from married women for residency, the board decided to exclude married students from the Hall on the grounds that their additional resources and their marital status made it possible for them to live elsewhere. In 1948, the cost of living at Chapin Hall was still half of that charged at Willard and other campus houses.

Northwestern University and WEAA enjoyed many years in cooperative partnership. In 1966 Chapin Hall was in need of extensive repairs. After much deliberation the WEAA Board decided that the time had come to turn management of Chapin Hall over to the University. In June, 1968, Chapin became a University dormitory.

Innumerable social gatherings, including afternoon teas, receptions, and dinners given for faculty and friends, took place regularly over the many years in Pearsons and Chapin Halls. Members of the WEAA continued to be genuinely interested in the young women, assisting them not only monetarily, but also as mentors and guides. The Association has helped thousands of young women achieve their educational goals. Many who received assistance have in turn bequeathed gifts to the organization to repay what had been provided them. The WEAA continues to be active today, giving scholarships to needy young women, through Northwestern University's Office of Financial Aid.

Scope and Content

The Women's Educational Aid Association records document the activities and operation of the organization. The series fills twelve boxes, including one card file box and three drop front boxes, and spans the period 1871-2000. Records are arranged in nine categories: Historical Material; Board of Directors; Officer and Committee Reports; Meeting Lists, Minutes and Reports; Administrative Records; Financial Records; House Records; Scrapbooks; and Scholars (Beneficiaries) Information Cards.

Organizational records were consistently well maintained, with the bulk of records dating from 1871 through 1989. Records between 1871 and 1949 were kept usually in bound volumes, while those dating after 1949 were usually unbound. Personal correspondence from scholars (beneficiaries) is greatest between 1965 and 1999. The records include a variety of formats, including journals, logs, scrapbooks, 4x5 cards.

The Historical Materials category consists of records that document the foundation and purpose of the WEAA. Records contained include: organizational histories dating from the inception of the WEAA, on April 10, 1871, through 1992; copies of the original constitution and by-laws as well as documentation of the founding officers; constitutional revisions, by-laws, and articles of incorporation dating between 1879 and 1993; and a historically significant speech given by Frances E. Willard on January 20, 1886, entitled “Help Thou Women”, stressing the need for financial support for the WEAA (box 1, folder 5).

Board of Directors materials include lists of Board Members (1967-1994) and of Officers and Committees (1974-1983). Officer and Committee Reports (1962-2000) consist of reports from officers and committees in typed or handwritten format, generally submitted by the chair of the committee at the various meetings of the association. Reports are arranged alphabetically, by committee name, after President and Vice President Reports.

Meeting Lists, Minutes and Reports include Meeting Minutes of the Board, Annual Meetings, Regular Meetings and Committee Reports, as well as Monthly Reports and miscellaneous notations concerning the organization. Records of all members and committees including the Board, for Annual, Regular and Committee meetings, dating between 1871 and 1949, were kept together in bound journal-type books, handwritten and meticulously recorded by the Secretary. Between 1949 and 1959, the Secretary continued to record much the same information in three-ring notebooks. Recording formats changed around 1960, thereafter, individual committee chairs submitted typed or handwritten reports separately, in addition to the Secretary's typed minutes. Thus the Officer and Committee Reports category and records begin in 1962. Notable in this category is one folder entitled “Monthly Reports,” a journal book, in which members of the association made notations after their monthly visits to College Cottage (1873-1875). These notations include a summary of happenings at the Cottage, needed repairs, and future goals. This category includes three journal books and two folders of loose-leaf items (1919-1959) documenting the organization in its many stages of growth. Meeting Lists (1975-1993), Annual Meeting Agendas and Minutes (1963-1990), and Special Meeting Minutes (1964-1983). In the Special Meetings folder circumstances warranting special attention by the board, such as, disciplinary matters, amendments to the Articles of Incorporation, or in depth discussions that regular meetings did not allow adequate time for, are documented. Four folders contain Regular Meeting Minutes (1963-1989).

Administrative Records are arranged alphabetically and date between 1904 and 2000. In this category are administrative forms, correspondence files, event planning, clippings, memorabilia, and obituaries and memorials. One folder contains a Questionnaire form given to graduating Scholars asking them about their experience with the WEAA Board. Correspondence files contain both internal and external correspondence with WEAA scholars, Northwestern University departments, and a small amount of correspondence between WEAA members. Notable within the correspondence files is a copy of a letter, written in 1904, from Andrew Carnegie to Dr. Pearsons, in which Carnegie expresses his views on philanthropy and congratulates Pearsons upon his giving (box 4, folder 9). Also notable is one folder of correspondence with the Evanston Historical Society, documenting the records that the WEAA donated to the Society's archival collection; and one folder of correspondence regarding Individual Circumstances (1970-1991) in which the WEAA reviewed requests for special financial aid; one particular case being monetary contribution for a student to purchase a new violin. Events planning is contained in one folder of Centennial Celebration (1971) records including planning notes, a copy of the event invitation, and a copy of the follow-up letter sent to all who attended, thanking them for their participation and continued support of the WEAA.

Financial Records include Treasurer's Books, an Assistant Treasurer's Book, and three folders of Financial Reports (1881-1934), as well as a Financial Review spanning forty years (1927-1967) in box 6, folder 1. Also contained in the financial records category are General Financial Records (1965-1996); IRS Records (1938-1967); Auditor's and Investment Reports (1927-1966); Gifts and Gifts-in-Memorial (1946-1979); Memorial Awards and Funds (1965-1978); and Bequests to the Association (1923-1982.

House Records contain a wealth of historical documentation including College Cottage records (1871-1900) and foundation documents for Pearsons Hall (1884-1935) and Chapin Hall (1900-1905, 1937-1950). One folder holds the Chapin Hall Constitution and By-Laws (196?-1968). Four folders hold Chapin Hall Resident Logs (1901-1971) with the names of all residents and their originating home information. One folder each of Chapin Hall Resident Lists (1963-67); Chapin Hall House Rules and Regulations (1963-66); Chapin Hall Handbooks (1952-1967) including Resident Handbooks, House Mother Handbooks, and Chapter Members and House Boards Handbooks; Chapin Hall Closing Documents (1966-1968) that record the transfer of management of Chapin Hall from WEAA to Northwestern University; and one folder with a copy of the Chapin Hall Newsletter (1971). This category also contains seven folders of House Collector Logs (1880-1944). These are bound journals noting room and board payments received by each resident. Logs are of all resident homes: Cottage College, Pearsons Hall, Morse Hall, and Chapin Hall.

Eight scrapbooks are contained in boxes nine, ten, and eleven. Box nine holds Volume I (1877-1944) and Volume II (1945-1959) of three very well maintained scrapbooks with copies of correspondence, memorabilia, photos, newspaper clippings, weddings and birth announcements, in addition to other items documenting the significant achievements of WEAA scholars. Box ten holds Volume III (1959-1972), as well as two additional scrapbooks. Scrapbook (1956-1960) largely contains newspaper clippings of achievements of scholars, as well as handbooks, photos, programs of special events scholars participated in. Scrapbook (1963-1967) contains mostly photos of fun times and events at Chapin Hall, with a few newspaper clippings throughout. Box eleven holds three scrapbooks. Scrapbook (1947-1953) is wholly comprised of newspaper clippings documenting scholars achievements and WEAA info. and events. Scrapbook (1975-1992) is a photo album of scholars senior portraits. Scrapbook (1984-1990) is a newspaper clipping album, that holds many clippings of achievements acquired and events scholars participated in, as well as WEAA organizational news.

Scholars (Beneficiaries) Information Cards (1907-1992) fill one card-file box. Information found on these cards includes past scholars' original home address as well as most current address on record, marital status and other family information. Also included on the cards are scholars' Northwestern University dates of attendance and graduation.


Corporate Name

Evanston College for Ladies

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.)

Women's Educational Aid Association

Geographical Name

Evanston (Ill.)--History

Container List / Contents

  • Historical Material
    • Histories, 1871 - 1992Box 1, Folder 1
    • Constitution and By-Laws, 1871 - 1894Box 1, Folder 2
    • Constitution, By-Laws, Members, Trustees, 1879 - 1894Box 1, Folder 3
    • Constitution, By-Laws, Articles of Incorporation, 1967 - 1993Box 1, Folder 4
    • Speech of Frances E. Willard, “Help Thou Women”, 1886Box 1, Folder 5
  • Board of Directors
    • Board Member Lists, 1967 - 1994Box 1, Folder 6
    • Officers and Committee Lists, 1974 - 1983Box 1, Folder 7
  • Officer and Committee Reports
    • President Reports, 1962 - 1968Box 1, Folder 8
    • Vice President and Room Chairman Reports, 1968 - 1987Box 1, Folder 9
    • Archives Committee Reports, 1969 - 1990Box 1, Folder 10
    • By-Laws Committee Reports, 1985 - 1990Box 1, Folder 11
    • Corporation Not for Profit Annual Reports, 1968 - 1983Box 1, Folder 12
    • Corresponding Secretary Reports, 1973 - 1990Box 1, Folder 13
    • Educational Aid Committee Reports, 1969 - 1989Box 1, Folder 14
    • Long Term Evaluation Committee Reports, 1987Box 1, Folder 15
    • Nominating Committee Reports, 1970 - 1989Box 1, Folder 16
    • Revisions Chairman Reports, 1969 - 1987Box 1, Folder 17
    • Scholarship Lists, Profiles, and Committee Reports, 1954 - 2000Box 1, Folder 18
    • Social Chairman Records and Reports, 1970 - 1990Box 1, Folder 19
    • Special Aid Committee Reports, 1968 - 1969Box 1, Folder 20
    • Treasurer's Reports, 1968 - 1995Box 1, Folder 21
  • Meeting Lists, Minutes, and Reports
    • Minutes of the Board, Annual and Regular Meetings, 1872 - 1919Box 2, Folder 1
    • Minutes of the Board: Loose-leaf items (Letter from Pastor Foster to Mr. Pearsons), 1873Box 2, Folder 2
    • Monthly Reports, 1873 - 1875Box 2, Folder 3
    • Minutes and Reports, 1874 - 1888Box 2, Folder 4
    • Minutes and Reports, 1894 - 1901Box 2, Folder 5
    • Minutes and Reports, 1901 - 1902Box 2, Folder 6
    • Minutes and Reports, 1902 - 1906Box 2, Folder 7
    • Minutes and Reports, 1906 - 1919Box 2, Folder 8
    • Minutes and Reports, 1911 - 1919Box 2, Folder 9
    • Minutes and Reports, 1919 - 1926Box 3, Folder 1
    • Minutes and Reports, 1926 - 1938Box 3, Folder 2
    • Minutes and Reports: Loose-leaf items, 1936Box 3, Folder 3
    • Minutes and Reports, 1938 - 1949Box 3, Folder 4
    • Minutes and Reports: Loose-leaf items, 1938 - 1949Box 3, Folder 5
    • Minutes and Reports, 1949 - 1952Box 3, Folder 6
    • Minutes and Reports, 1952 - 1955Box 3, Folder 7
    • Minutes and Reports, 1955 - 1956Box 3, Folder 8
    • Minutes and Reports, 1956 - 1957Box 3, Folder 9
    • Minutes and Reports, 1957 - 1958Box 3, Folder 10
    • Minutes and Reports, 1958 - 1959Box 3, Folder 11
    • Meeting Lists, 1975 - 1993Box 4, Folder 1
    • Annual Meeting Agendas and Minutes, 1963 - 1990Box 4, Folder 2
    • Special Meeting Minutes, 1964 - 1983Box 4, Folder 3
    • Regular Meeting Minutes, 1963 - 1965Box 4, Folder 4
    • Regular Meeting Minutes, 1965 - 1969Box 4, Folder 5
    • Regular Meeting Minutes, 1970 - 1984Box 4, Folder 6
    • Regular Meeting Minutes, 1985 - 1989Box 4, Folder 7
  • Administrative Records
    • Aid Applications, 1960 - 1978Box 4, Folder 8
    • Carnegie/Pearsons, 1904Box 4, Folder 9
    • Centennial Celebration, 1971Box 4, Folder 10
    • Clippings, 1957 - 1990Box 4, Folder 11
    • Directory Information, 1984Box 4, Folder 12
    • Evanston Historical Society Records, 1974 - 1995Box 4, Folder 13
    • External General (WEAA to outside), 1967 - 1989Box 4, Folder 14
    • External to Scholars (WEAA to scholars), 1970 - 1987Box 4, Folder 15
    • Forms, 1970 - 1980Box 4, Folder 16
    • Individual Circumstances (Special Aid requests), 1970 - 1991Box 4, Folder 17
    • Internal General (WEAA to WEAA), 1974 - 1994Box 4, Folder 18
    • Memorabilia, 1872 - 1883Box 4, Folder 19
    • Obituaries and Memorials, 1961 - 2000Box 4, Folder 20
    • Questionnaire, 1989 - 1991Box 4, Folder 21
    • Scholars to WEAA (thank you cards/personal letters), 1965 - 1989Box 4, Folder 22
    • Scholars to WEAA (thank you cards/personal letters), 1990 - 1999Box 4, Folder 23
  • Financial Records
    • Treasurer's Book, 1881 - 1885Box 5, Folder 1
    • Treasurer's Book, 1879 - 1890Box 5, Folder 2
    • Treasurer's Book, 1895 - 1900Box 5, Folder 3
    • Treasurer's Book, 1900 - 1907Box 5, Folder 4
    • Assistant Treasurer's Book, 1916 - 1927Box 5, Folder 5
    • Financial Reports, 1873 - 1909Box 5, Folder 6
    • Financial Reports, 1910 - 1919Box 5, Folder 7
    • Financial Reports, 1920 - 1934Box 5, Folder 8
    • Financial Review, 1927 - 1967Box 6, Folder 1
    • General Financial, 1965 - 1996Box 6, Folder 2
    • IRS Records, 1938 - 1967Box 6, Folder 3
    • Auditor's Reports, 1937 - 1950Box 6, Folder 4
    • Auditor's Reports, 1951 - 1968Box 6, Folder 5
    • Auditor's Reports, 1969 - 1979Box 6, Folder 6
    • Auditor's Reports, 1980 - 1993Box 6, Folder 7
    • Investment Reports, 1927 - 1937Box 6, Folder 8
    • Investment Reports, 1938 - 1962Box 6, Folder 9
    • Investment Reports, 1963 - 1966Box 6, Folder 10
    • Investment Reports, 1977 - 1979Box 6, Folder 11
    • Bequest: Carrie M. Learned, 1923 - 1928Box 6, Folder 12
    • Bequest: Martha Reynolds, 1927 - 1928Box 6, Folder 13
    • Bequest: Laura Haines, 1982Box 6, Folder 14
    • Gifts and Gifts-in-Memorial, 1946 - 1979Box 6, Folder 15
    • Memorial Awards and Funds (Boynton, Rague, Werth, Williams), 1965 - 1978Box 6, Folder 16
  • House Records
    • College Cottage, 1871 - 1900Box 7, Folder 1
    • Pearsons Hall Foundation Documents, 1884 - 1935Box 7, Folder 2
    • Chapin Hall Foundation Documents, 1900 - 1905, 1937 - 1950Box 7, Folder 3
    • Chapin Hall Constitution and By-Laws, 196(?) - 1968Box 7, Folder 4
    • Chapin Hall Resident Log, 1901 - 1920Box 7, Folder 5
    • Chapin Hall Resident Log, 1901 - 1910, 1921 - 22, 1930 - 1962Box 7, Folder 6
    • Chapin Hall Resident Log, 1921 - 31, 1937 - 1943Box 7, Folder 7
    • Chapin Hall Resident Log, 1962 - 1971Box 7, Folder 8
    • Chapin Hall House Rules and Regulations, 1963 - 1966Box 7, Folder 9
    • Chapin Hall Handbooks (Includes Resident, House Mothers, Chapter Members and House Boards Handbooks.), 1952 - 1967Box 7, Folder 10
    • Chapin Hall Resident Lists, 1963 - 1967Box 7, Folder 11
    • Chapin Hall Closing Documents, 1966 - 1968Box 7, Folder 12
    • Chapin Hall Newsletter, 1971Box 7, Folder 13
    • Chapin Hall Reunion, 1999Box 7, Folder 14
    • House Collector Logs, 1880 - 1886Box 8, Folder 1
    • House Collector Logs, 1890 - 1894Box 8, Folder 2
    • House Collector Logs, 1886 - 1898Box 8, Folder 3
    • House Collector Logs, 1901 - 1906Box 8, Folder 4
    • House Collector Logs, 1901 - 1915Box 8, Folder 5
    • House Collector Logs, 1925 - 1937Box 8, Folder 6
    • House Collector Logs, 1943 - 1944Box 8, Folder 7
  • Scrapbooks
    • Volume I, 1877 - 1944Box 9
    • Volume II, 1945 - 1959Box 9
    • Volume III, 1959 - 1972Box 10
    • Scrapbook, 1956 - 1960Box 10
    • Scrapbook, 1963 - 1967Box 10
    • Scrapbook, 1947 - 1953Box 11
    • Photo Album, 1975 - 1992Box 11
    • Clippings Album, 1984 - 1990Box 11
  • Information Cards