Working Womenʼs History Project
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Read summaries and see pictures of past events put on by the Working Women’s History Project, between the years of 2010 and 2020.
Events from 2010 - 2020
2020 -“Recognition Delayed: African American Suffragists and Why Their Stories Matter”
Co-sponsored by the American Association of University Women, Chicago Branch; the University of Illinois Library; the Vivian G. Harsh Society; and WWHP.
On March 8, 2020, a diverse, enthusiastic and engaged audience met at the University of Illinois Library to hear a lecture on African American suffragists delivered by Marcia Walker-McWilliams, Executive Director of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium. Her lecture was followed by a panel moderated by Elizabeth Todd-Breland, Associate Professor in the Dept. of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Panelists Asiaha Butler, founder and president of the Residents Association of Greater Englewood; Delmarie Cobb, founder of Ida's Legacy; Ibie Hart, the Women's Business Development Manager of the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; and Anne Jamieson, president of the Chicago branch of League of Women Voters explored connections between our suffrage history and current social activism. They discussed the issues first among themselves and later with questions from the audience. Four organizations: Ida's Legacy; League of Women Voters; Rainbow Push; and University of Illinois Library, staffed tables with material to inform attendees of their work.
2019 -“Mother Jones in Heaven: A Musical by Si Kahn
WWHP cosponsored a performance of "Mother Jones in Heaven: A Musical by Si Kahn " at the Irish American Heritage Center on November 1st. Vivian Nesbit performed as Mother Jones with John Dillon on guitar.
The play opened with "Mother" Jones arriving in heaven to discover that heaven is identical to her favorite Irish pub back down on Earth. Over the course of the performance "Mother" Jones looked back over her life, sifting through her storied past, balancing the scales, telling her stories both in words and song.
2019 - Addie Wyatt- Life Can Be Better
On April 13, 2019, Addie Wyatt: Life Can Be Better by Alma Washington had its first performance by a community group, Women Empowered for Civic Engagement or WECE.
The play, formatted into 7 parts, was read by pastor Dr. Yvonne Wilson; community activist and President of WECE, Joyce Chapman; police sergeant, Regina Hightower; Thyatiria Towns, Mirlene Dossous, and Anglense Jones, all of whom are involved with Chicago Public Schools; and Circuit Court Judge Sondra Denmark who is Addie Wyatt's great-niece!
The reading took place at Corliss Early College STEM High School and was followed by a panel moderated by Helen Ramirez-Odell, WWHP Vice President for programming. Panel members were Alma Washington, the playwright; Joan Morris who conducted the lengthy interview with Addie Wyatt that Alma Washington used to write the play; and Katie Jordan, WWHP board member and president of Chicago CLUW who was mentored by her friend Addie Wyatt. They were joined by Rosie Simpson, who had worked as an organizer in the meat packing companies with Addie Wyatt.
2018 -Radical Ideas! Women and the Vote!
The play written by Mary Bonnett of Her Story Theater and originally performed in 2013 was performed three afternoons in 2018 at DANK Haus, the German American Cultural Center in Chicago. Each performance was followed by a panel discussing the importance of the vote. Event co-sponsors were the League of Women Voters, Chicago branch, Her Story Theater, and DANK Haus.
March 3, 2018
Panel Moderator: Sally Duros, Chicago Women Take Action
Panelists: Tara Stamps, Chicago Teachers Union Activist; Celina Villanueva, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Kristina Zahorik, State Central Committeewoman 14th Congressional District; Maureen Forte, Southside Community Activist
February 24, 2018
Panel Moderator: Kady McFadden, Sierra Club
Panelists: Annie Logue, League of Women Voters of Chicago; Betty Magness, Rainbow Push Coalition: ;Ibie Hart, Common Cause.
February 17, 2018
Panel Moderator: Judge Ann Breen-Greco, Chicago Women Take Action
Panelists: Joyce Chapman, Women Empowered for Civic Engagement; Pat Wilder, League of Women Voters of Chicago; Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, State Leader of Indivisible Illinois.
2017 - Wreath laying at the Mother Jones Marker on Route 66
Wreath laying at the Mother Jones Marker on Route 66, hosted by the Mother Jones Heritage Project, with WWHP and the Irish American Heritage Center as co-hosts. The Consul General of the Irish Consulate General of Ireland was a special guest. Carrying the wreath with him is Brigid Duffy Gerace, who regularly portrayed Mother Jones.
2017 - Politics of the Pantry: Housewives, Food, and Consumer Protest In Twentieth-Century America
WWHP co-sponsored the book launch of Politics of the Pantry: Housewives, Food, and Consumer Protest In Twentieth-Century America by WWHP board member, Emily E. LB. Twarog, Assistant Professor of Labor Studies and American History in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The event took place at the Women and Leadership Archives at Loyola University Chicago
WWHP donated 20 years of its papers, programs, plays and photos to Special Collections at the Richard J. Daley Library of the University of Illinois at Chicago
2017 - Mother Jones Through Chicago
Autumn Guillotte wrote and led a walking tour celebrating Mother Jones as a part of Chicago's labor history. On Sunday, Mother Jones in the person of Brigid Duffy Gerace joined Ms. Guillotte on the tour.
2017 - May Day Celebration
May Day celebration at Mother Jones Museum in Mt. Olive co-sponsored with the Mother Jones Museum and Heritage Project. Board members Margaret Fulkerson and Brigid Duffy Gerace attended.
2016 - Never Too Late: A Glimpse into the Life and Legacy of Ethel Percy Andrus
Never Too Late: A Glimpse into the Life and Legacy of Ethel Percy Andrus
WWHP produced, and AARP co-sponsored, an event about the fight for financial security, health care, and other services for older Americans. M.T. Cozzola’s original play celebrated Ethel Percy Andrus, the founder of the National Retired Teachers Association and AARP at the Irish American Heritage Center. Helen Ramirez-Odell moderated a panel following the play with panelists Lily Liu, historian and archivist of AARP, Arlene Crandall, executive director of Retired Teachers Association of Chicago and Ann Marie Cunningham, volunteer leader at Jane Addams Senior Center.
2016- Handle With Care
HANDLE WITH CARE performed at Third Unitarian Church in Austin - October 2, 2016
The play was performed for a diverse audience at Third Unitarian Church in the Chicago neighborhood of Austin.
Andrew White, Connectivity and Engagement Director of Looking glass Theatre, moderated the post-show panel that included a senior representative from the Ounce of Prevention as well as the owner of a child care center and a parent who had a child attending that center.
HANDLE WITH CARE performed at Good City in Austin for Austin Coming Together- July 20, 2016
The play was performed for an audience of people working in the field of child care. Andrew White, Connectivity and Engagement Director of Lookingglass Theatre, led the post-show discussion to determine if the stories conveyed in the play rang true to this audience.
HANDLE WITH CARE performed at Lookingglass Theater Upstairs - April 12, 2016
Handle With Care, was written by Tracy Walsh, an ensemble member of Lookingglass Theatre. The material for the play came from the videotaped and transcribed interviews collected by the Child Care Committee of WWHP. This first performance took place in an upstairs theater of Lookingglass Theatre. Michael Rohd, director of the Civic Practice Lab, led the post show discussion in order to identify people and groups who would want to have the play staged at their venue.
2015- A Salute to “The Most Dangerous Woman in America”
On March 28, 2015, 200 people gathered at the Irish American Heritage Center for WWHP’s benefit to raise funds for the new Mother Jones Museum in Mount Olive, Illinois. Rosemary Feurer keynoted the event and showed a portion of the documentary she co-directed with Laura Vazquez: Mother Jones, America’s Most Dangerous Woman. WWHP board member Margaret Fulkerson spoke about the museum and board member Brigid Duffy gave an electric performance as Mother Jones returned to critique labor rights and politics in our modern-day world. The benefit raised $7,000 for the new museum. The event included musical entertainment by singer Kathy Cowan plus food and drink.
2014- Childcare in Chicago: A Working Woman’s Issue
Childcare in Chicago: A Working Women’s Issue brought out parents, child care practitioners, SEIU members, and interested listeners. Those attending heard Arleen Prairie, a former Harold Washington College Child Development teacher and also a coach at Head Start Programs, speak on the number of child care centers in Chicago and how it compared with earlier times. They also heard a program director and a family worker from the Guadalupano Family Center describe the genesis of their program and the challenges in their work. A parent, who also works in the field, described how she knew that her daughter was in the right place after she had enrolled her at Guadalupano. The diverse audience engaged the panelists in a lively discussion.
2014, 2013, 2012 - Spoken Art: Celebrating Womens Stories
Spoken Art Celebrations were joyous celebrations with food, wine, and live music. Each featured 5 – 8 community activists who gave short speeches on their work and women artists who sold their wares.
2013 - Radical Ideas! Women and the Vote!
Written by Mary Bonnett of Her Story Theater, the play describes the work of three suffragists who secured partial suffrage for Illinois women in 1913, seven years before the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granted U.S. women suffrage in 1920. Catherine Gouger Waugh McCulloch was an attorney who for years had fought to redress inequities women experienced; Grace Wilbur Trout was a well-connected clubwoman who used her social position to advance women’s causes; and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, was an African American journalist, born into slavery, who wrote about lynching in the South and continued her activist career in Chicago. The play demonstrates that the suffragists succeeded despite their very different backgrounds and approaches.
The play was performed at the Exchequer Restaurant and Pub on Wabash Avenue on June 11th, the 100th anniversary of the passage of legislation granting women partial suffrage in Illinois. Mary Ann Johnson, president of the Chicago Women’s History Center gave historical background before the performance and 5th Ward Alderwoman Leslie Hairston spoke afterwards about the role of women in politics.
2013 - Taking Teachers to Task: Facing Chicago’s challenges over time
Taking Teachers to Task: Facing Chicago’s Challenges Over Time, produced at Hull House on Saturday, March 16, 2013, focused on Chicago battles over public schools, teacher rights, community involvement and democracy in public education. Actors delivered key historical speeches of educational leaders from 100 years ago–Margaret Haley, Jacob Loeb, Ella Flagg Young. Key issues of the present were presented by two of today’s educators, Elizabeth Todd-Breland and Jennifer L. Johnson.
2012, 2011 - The Ninth Floor Door: Blocked Justice of the Triangle Factory Fire
The Ninth Floor Door: Blocked Justice of the Triangle Factory Fire (Mary Bonnet; music performed by Ken Morris) tells the story of the 1911 tragedy in New York City in which 146 people died when fire erupted in a shirtwaist factor in a loft building. The nation’s horror sparked a change in the regulations governing safety and conditions in the U.S. workplace.
Performed first on April 7, 2011, at Roosevelt University with a panel on current industrial safety issues, both in the U.S. and globally
Performed on October 1, 2011, at Renaissance Court, Chicago Cultural Center with a panel on the Chicago garment industry, historically and in modern times
Performed on March 3, 2012, at Grace Place Episcopal Church of Chicago with a panel on the Chicago garment industry and the role of the AAUW (American Association of University Women) in helping women workers
2011 - The Dangerous Working Conditions of Laundry Workers in Chicago
The Dangerous Working Conditions of Laundry Workers in Chicago, presented May 5, 2011, at Workers United. Daisy Sewell, a union steward at an Angelica laundry plant in Chicago and a former Workers United organizer, spoke about laundry workers, safety, union membership, and the good and bad union representation.
2010 - Conversations with the Playwrights
Conversation with the Playwrights, April 22, 2010, held at Workers United was a conversation about the process of writing performance pieces with historical and living women. Four WWHP playwrights, Mary Bonnett, Brigid Duffy Gerace, Joan McGann Morris, and Alma Washington, participated.
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© 2018—Working Women's History Project