Early Illinois Women

African American Women's Clubs in Illinois

The African American Women's Clubs (also known as the Colored Women's Clubs) were played a major role in the African American segment of the Progressive Movement in the years surrounding 1900. These clubs were located throughout the state. A few members of the clubs are listed below.

Sarah Sheppard

Mrs. Sheppard was one of Peoria's leading down-state clubwomen. She held many offices within the clubs and was known as a welfare worker in Peoria. She was also a member of the Woman's Aid Club and a member of the City Federation of Women's Clubs of Peoria. The City Federation included all clubs regardless of the race, creed or color of their members.

Rev. Celia Parker Wooley

Rev. Wooley was born in Toledo in 1843 and spent her childhood in Michigan, where she graduated from the Coldwater Female Seminary. She married Dr. J. H. Wooley in 1868 and moved to Chicago in 1876. In 1894, she was ordained as a minister in the Unitarian Fellowship at Geneva, Illinois. She was active in several African American women's organizations.

Irene Sappington Goins

Irene Sappington Goins was born in Quincy, Illinois and attended schools in Quincy and in Springfield. She and her husband Henry Sherman Goins moved to Chicago in 1895. Mrs. Goins began a millinery business in the city, and was also active in social and welfore work. She held office in the City Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, the Illinois Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, the Inter-Racial Co-Operative Committee, and the Executive Board of Women's Trade Union League.

Ethel McCracken Cleaves

Mrs. Ethel McCracken Cleaves was born in Alton, Illinois. Her family moved to Chicago when she was young. She attended Wilberforce University, later teaching in Golconda, Carbondale, and Chicago schools. She held offices in several clubs and was active in the Phyllis Sheatley and Volunteer Workers' Clubs.

Susan E. Cannon Allen

Susan Cannon Allen was born in Galesburg, Illinois in 1859. She was educated in Monmouth, with the intentions of teaching in foreign mission fields. She was prominent in club work and a strong advocate for temperance for women's suffrage.

Mildred A. Weaks Williams

Mildred Weaks Williams was born in Jersey County, Illinois. She later lived in Alton and Springfield. In 1904, she established a millinery business for herself in Chicago. She was a member of several clubs and did considerable work with the Second Ward Club for the local Red Cross during World War I.



  1. Davis, Elizabeth Lindsay. 1922. The Story of the Illinois Federation of Colored Women's Clubs.

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