Category Archives: Women

Women’s bathing suit controversy, 1916

Springfield women’s rights activist Harriett Reid made fun of the Springfield Park Board’s 1916 directive that women’s swimsuits at the new Bunn Park Beach include skirts. The park board had voted 5-1 to impose the restriction, which was sponsored by … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Amusements, Local government, Parks, Women | Leave a comment

Women win civil service hiring rights in Illinois, 1920

Harriett Reid of Springfield placed first in the 1918 examination for arbitrator with the Illinois Industrial Commission. But when the commission decided to hire two more arbitrators in 1920, it advertised that it wanted men for both posts. That set … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Prominent figures, State government, Women | Leave a comment

‘Madame Brownie’ (bordello operator)

“Madame Brownie” (real name Augusta Kellogg) operated one of Springfield’s best-known houses of prostitution for more than 35 years. She was 80 years old when she died in 1915, possibly following an altercation with an intoxicated customer. Her Illinois State … Continue reading

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Alice Gilliland (Royal Neighbors of America)

Alice Gilliland helped found the Royal Neighbors of America, the first “fraternal” benefit society to offer life insurance to women, and rose to become the group’s Supreme Oracle, its top post. Gilliland, who was among the first 500 members necessary … Continue reading

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Prohibition referendums in Sangamon County, 1908-17

Most of Sangamon County voted itself “dry” as soon as it legally could in 1908. But it would take four referendums and nearly 10 years before the city of Springfield finally succumbed to prohibitionist sentiment. After a bitter struggle, the … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Local government, Politics, Race riot of 1908, Restaurants, Social life, Women | Leave a comment

Nellie Revell, publicist, author & celebrity

As a young vaudevillian, the story goes, Nellie Revell punched out George M. Cohan. Decades later, Cohan hosted a Friars Club benefit for Revell – a first for a woman. He also was among hundreds of celebrities who lined up … Continue reading

Posted in Arts and letters, Journalism, Media, Women | 6 Comments

Dr. Alonzo Kenniebrew (physician)

Dr. Alonzo Kenniebrew lived and died in Springfield, and his wife later became one of the most honored Springfieldians of her generation. His most notable achievements as a pioneering African-American physician, however, were accomplished elsewhere. Kenniebrew (1875-1943) founded the world’s … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, First Citizens, Medicine, Prominent figures, Women | 2 Comments

Maternal Health Center/Planned Parenthood

The Maternal Health Center, Springfield’s first avowed birth control clinic, was created in 1938 by about a dozen socially prominent women. Its early leaders included Elizabeth “Libby” Lanphier (1908-97), Calista Herndon (1902-83) and Mary “Dougie” Funk (1900-80). The center faced several obstacles … Continue reading

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Sangamon Ordnance Plant

Dozens of seemingly out-of-place structures dot farm fields west of Illiopolis, the last reminders of what once was one of the U.S.’s largest producers of World War II artillery ammunition. From 1942 to 1945, the Sangamon Ordnance Plant produced 24 … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Agriculture, Buildings, Communities, Disasters, Industry, Military, Transportation, Women | 15 Comments

Stuart Elementary School

The Sixth Ward Primary School, located between Sixth and Seventh streets and Vine Street and South Grand Avenue, was the first Springfield public school organized after the original four ward schools. Stuart was built in 1883 and closed after the … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Early residents, Education, John T. Stuart, Prominent figures, Schools and school districts, Women | 12 Comments