Women at Northwestern: A Guide to Resources in the University Archives

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A Guide to Resources in the Northwestern University Archives

Northwestern University began admitting women in 1869, at the insistence of University President Erastus Otis Haven, a Sarah Rebecca Roland Childs, first woman graduate of NUstrong supporter of higher education for women. At the time, there were only a few co-educational universities in the United States and college-level education for women was still considered a new and somewhat revolutionary concept. In 1874, Sarah Rebecca Roland (pictured at right) became the first woman graduate of Northwestern University. Since then, most aspects of women’s lives at Northwestern have changed dramatically. Read a brief history of coeducation at Northwestern.

The University Archives holds many resources that document the lives of Northwestern women, past and present, students, faculty, faculty wives, and administrators. Collections of personal papers and organizational records illuminate the life of specific women and the activities they were involved in. Scrapbooks and diaries provide a very personal look at students’ lives, and subject files focus on one organization or event.

The following list includes just some of the resources available in the University Archives. Other materials such as photographs, serial publications, artifacts, even course catalogs all shed light on women' experiences at Northwestern.

Note: Under the heading "Collections," links are included for collections for which the finding aid is available online in pdf format. Finding aids act as a guide to the contents of the collection. Paper versions of finding aids to all collections of papers and records in the University Archives are located in the Archives' Reading Room (110 Deering Library).





Faculty Biographical Files

University Buildings - Evanston

  • South-Mid Quads (Women's Quadrangle)
  • Willard Hall (Old)
  • Willard Hall (New)

    Women's Center


  • Women's athletics, general
  • (see individual sport - for example, "Basketball - Women's")

School of Medicine -- Woman's Medical College

Student Life

  • Dean of Women
  • Greek Life - Sororities (many sororities have individual files)
  • Women's Housing
  • Women in Leadership Conference
  • Women’s Athletic Association (WAA)
  • WAA-MU
  • Women in Leadership
  • Women's Self-Government Association
  • Associated Women Students
  • Women's League         

 Student Activities and Organizations

  • Special Events – May Week
  • Northwestern Circus
  • Dolphin Show
  • Gay and Lesbian Alliance
  • Gay and Lesbian University Union
  • Graduate Women United
  • Jewish Women’s Coalition
  • Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Group
  • Northwestern Women Against Rape
  • NU Student Wives Club
  • Orchesis
  • Pro-Choice Coalition
  • Society of Women Engineers
  • Women at NU
  • Women in Communications
  • Women's Abortion Action Coalition
  • Women's Coalition
  • Women's Interhouse Council
  • Women's Liberation Movement
  • Women's Literary Societies
  • Women Off Campus
  • YWCA