Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Early Role of Women in The Scottish History of Chicago

The role of women in the Scottish history of Chicago has been rather difficult to define. We do know that early in the history of the Saint Andrew's Society, women worked side by side with their husbands in distributing charity. Ladies were assigned to each of the three districts in Chicago, but they received little in the way of public recognition and their names were seldom recorded. Women were not admitted into membership until 1947.

Women were first invited to attend the Saint Andrew's Day Dinner in 1917. The president of the Society at that time was James B. Forgan, a devote Presbyterian and world famous banker. Mr. Forgan reminded the men that ladies were present, so they should watch their language. He also banned the drinking of alcohol, but of course, that did not last long. Mr. Forgan and his brother, also a banker, were both born in St. Andrews, Scotland.

On June 25, 1902, James D. Currie, issued an invitation to Scottish ladies "by birth, descent or marriage" to meet at the Sherman House hotel with the object of forming a Ladies Auxiliary. A number of ladies attended and their number would grow to 75 members. "By parlor socials, entertainments, etc." the Auxiliary raised over two thousand dollars for the erection of a statue to Robert Burns, the poet.

For two years "a pleasant meeting place" was furnished to the ladies by the Paterson Shorthand Institute, "absolutely free of cost." It is unclear why the meeting place was discontinued or where the Auxiliary moved.

The leader of this new group was always Mrs. Robert Ballantine. We will tell you about her later.

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