Finding a Topic
Collections of Potential Interest to Students
Our archives has a wide range of collections that might be of interest to students working on History Fair projects. Many of our collections also contain a variety of materials, from documents and correspondence, to photographs, videos, and oral histories! Be sure to check out our finding aids for a complete list of our collections.
During our normal operating hours, Monday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Tuesday from 11 a.m.–7 p.m., and Wednesday from 9 a.m.–3:15 p.m., we welcome students to visit us, see our collections, and consult with staff in person with no appointments required.
History Fair Topics
Topic ideas from the WLA collections may be found in several ways. Check out the handout Resources at the Women and Leadership Archives: Chicago Metro History Fair 2014-2015.
Other potential subjects for History Fair may be found at the WLA Digital Collections which include Feminism in Chicago: The Connie Kiosse Papers; Virginia Gaertner Broderick; Women in Science; Visions: A Highlight of Chicago Women Artists; Immaculata High School; Mercedes McCambridge: Actress & Activist; Peggy Roach: Civil Rights Pioneer; Women and Social Justice; and the Mundelein College Collection. The digital collections contain a small amount of the records for that person or specific topic, with many more primary sources available upon a visit to the WLA.
The WLA has three online exhibits that also may provide topic ideas and feature primary sources.
|Activist Mundelein: Civic Engagement at a 20th Century Women's College. This exhibit focuses on the history of student activism at Mundelein College, a Catholic women's college in Chicago, with a special emphasis on the civil rights movement and Vietnam War protests of the 1960s and early 1970s.|
|Focusing on the Chicago Woman's Club, Practical Work: Chicago Woman's Club Reformers, Criminal Women and Delinquent Children, 1876–1920 provides a fascinating glimpse into women’s history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and explores how women reformers in Chicago tried to protect and reform criminal women and delinquent children at the turn of the twentieth century.|
|The WLA's newest exhibit, Legion of Young Polish Women focuses on the philanthropic and social history of the Legion of Young Polish Women, a Chicago women's organization founded in 1939. The exhibit traces the Legion's history from their work during WWII into the present, as the organization remains a vital part of Chicago’s Polish-American community.|
WLA Collections and Leadership and Legacy in History
The following collections may be of particular interest for students searching for a topic on this year's History Fair theme: "Leadership and Legacy in History."
Feminism and Women’s Rights:
In what ways have people and groups advocated for women's rights in a variety of arenas? The WLA's collections include individuals and organizations who worked for the rights of women through education, government, business, religion, journalism, homemaking, and art. Click on the collection titles for more information.
How have women advocated for equality and justice in society? Our collections include issues of homelessness, the prison system, oppression in the church, education, civil rights, United Farm Workers, LGBTQ rights, disability rights, and economic justice. Click on the collection titles for more information.
How have women played a role in labor activism? The WLA's collections include materials about the United Farm Workers Movement, the Chicago Teacher's Union, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the civil rights movement, the Chicago Federation of Labor, and the Illinois AFL-CIO. Click on the collection titles for more information.
Our collections include women who fought oppression in religion, promoted racial and gender equality in the church, and advocated for reproductive choice in the Catholic Church, as well as organizations who actively work for change in the church.
The WLA's primary collection concerning progressivism and reformers is the Chicago Woman's Club Records. Founded in 1876, the goal of the club was “mutual sympathy and counsel, and united effort toward the higher civilization of humanity.” The group’s focus ranged from nursing training, temperance, and temperance to charity management and patronizing the arts.