The Chicago Women's History Center is a non-profit, membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and preservation of women's history. Founded in 1971 during the early years of the 2nd Wave Women's Movement as the Chicago Area Women's History Conference, CWHC is the oldest continuing non-profit women's history organization in the nation. It serves today as a vital network of historians, archivists, teachers, museum professionals, oral historians, preservationists, media makers, activists and others interested in the study of Chicago women past and present.
CWHC was established in 1971 under the leadership of founding president Jean Hunt. At the time its purpose was to serve as a network organization for women in the historical profession and promote research and writing in the field of women's history.
Through the years CWHC has combined academic scholarship with public education to document and share resources for the study of women's history. Through the years CWHC has sponsored regular meetings where historians and other scholars present papers and works in progress on topics related to women's history. In addition, the organization has sponsored and produced seminars, conferences, workshops, teacher training institutes, walking and bus tours, dramatic presentations, TV and radio programs, and other educational programs designed to share women's history with a broad audience. CWHC publications include books, pamphlets, curricula, bibliographies and guided tours.
In 1990 CWHC embarked upon the Telling Women's Lives Project, a massive research and writing initiative on the history of Chicago women. After ten years of work, this project produced Women Building Chicago 1790 - 1990, A Biographical Dictionary, an award winning reference book published by Indiana University Press in 2001.
In 2009 we launched our current project "Documenting Women's Activism and Leadership in the Chicago Area, 1945 - 2000", which builds on our previous work with a focus on women's activism during the post-war period.
In 2015 CAWHC changed its name to Chicago Women's History Center to reflect the fact that we now have a physical center in Logan Square. Today the organization is located in a two-flat building on Humboldt Boulevard.