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History blog celebrates efforts of Harriette Elizabeth Hills for advancing literature and arts

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  • Harriette Elizabeth Hills

    Harriette Elizabeth Hills
    Courtesy of West Chicago City Museum

Rosemary Mackey

West Chicago, Illinois: March 28, 2013 - For the past two years, history has been brought to life in West Chicago through a blog produced by the City Museum. "A Sense of Place," published on the City's website, has provided readers with brief capsules of local history in a lively and entertaining format.

The newest post celebrates the efforts of a progressive woman, Harriette Elizabeth Hills, who had a long and successful career working for the University Club of Chicago. Her experience there inspired her to co-found the West Chicago Woman's Club and cultivate a love for literature and the arts. Research into articles from the Rome Daily Sentinel in Rome, New York, document Hills' visit to Vernon, New York and the role her cousin Mabel Hills Richard had in Harriette's pursuit of a library for West Chicago.

An excerpt of the blog follows, along with a link to the entire post for those who wish to read further. Those wishing to subscribe to future posts, may do so by joining the Museum News mailing list from the homepage of

Harriet Elizabeth Hills - A Small Start Results in a Big Outcome

Harriette Elizabeth Hills lived almost her entire life in a house built by her father Albert in the village of Turner, now West Chicago. Born in November of 1871, six years after the end of the Civil War, she was descended through her mother from Americans dating to before the formation of the country. Albert, however, had come to New York from Bethersdent, Kent, England with his family as a young man, part of a community of English settlers who spread from the Oneida and Herkimer Counties to DuPage and Kane counties in Illinois. These families included Hills, Padgham, Evenden, Avard, Allison, and Booth.

Harriette was unusual in her day in that she was not only a member of many social clubs in and around our town, but also a career woman, commuting to Chicago each day. Having only a second year high school education, she was working as secretary for some architects when she was loaned to the University Club of Chicago for six months in 1912. The six months stretched to 34 years, until her retirement in 1946 at age 75.

The University Club's membership is composed of college graduates, and their purpose is to cultivate a love for literature and arts. One can imagine this environment stimulated Harriette's mind too.

Visit to continue reading "A Small Start Results in a Big Outcome," and many more posts that focus on the people, places, and things that have contributed to West Chicago's legacy.