The Chicago Area Women's History Council 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, CAWHC is the longest term a network for historians, archivists, teachers, museum professionals, oral historians, preservationists, activists and others interested in the study of Chicago women past and present.
The Chicago Area Women's History Conference was established in 1971 under the leadership of founding president Jean Hunt. Its purpose was to serve as a network organization for women in the historical profession and to promote research and writing in the field of women's history.
In 2003 the name of the organization was changed to Chicago Area Women's History Council to reflect a broader mission of service to the many and diverse areas of research, teaching, public history, interpretation and preservation that have evolved in the field since our inception.
Through the years CAWHC has sponsored monthly meetings at the Newberry Library and other locations where historians present papers and works in progress on topics related to women's history. In addition, the organization has sponsored and produced conferences, workshops, teacher training institutes, discussion groups, walking and bus tours, dramatic presentations, TV and radio programs, and other educational programs designed to share women's history with a broad audience. CAWHC publications include books, pamphlets, curricula, bibliographies and guided tours.
In 1990 CAWHC 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.