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Fortnightly of Chicago records

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Fortnightly

Scope and Content of the Collection

Materials regarding the founding, operations, and activities of The Fortnightly of Chicago and its members. Administrative records include committee records, reports, meeting minutes, gift records, and correspondence. The history and activities of the Society are documented through yearbooks, clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, audiovisual materials, event calendars, guest books, biographical information, and member and guest papers. Also includes the papers of Fortnightly founder Kate Newell Doggett, along with extensive information regarding the history, contents of and maintenance of the Bryan Lathrop House.

Related materials can be found throughout the collection. Oversize materials are described separately at the end of the collection. Meeting minutes are restricted for a period ending fifty (50) years from the date of the meeting described in the minutes.


  • Creation: 1869-2018



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Use of minutes will be at the discretion of The Fortnightly of Chicago Board of Directors or their delegated representatives during the period ending fifty (50) years from the date of the meeting described in the minutes.

The Fortnightly of Chicago records are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Fortnightly of Chicago records are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

History of The Fortnightly of Chicago

Chicago Woman’s Society founded by botanist and suffragist Kate Newell Doggett.

The Fortnightly of Chicago, the city’s oldest women’s organization, was founded in 1873 during a period of rebuilding after the Chicago Fire of 1871. Embodying the nineteenth century passion for self-improvement, founder Kate Newell Doggett gathered a group of like-minded friends to meet regularly and to research and present intellectually stimulating papers. Officially incorporated in 1876, Mrs. Doggett served as the first president from 1876 through 1879.

The Society evolved to attract members as different as Jane Addams, a founder of Hull House and the first Juvenile Court in the nation, and Bertha (Mrs. Potter) Palmer, society figure and President of the Board of Lady Managers at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Other early members included Janet H. Ayer, Amanda M. Bliss, Susan M. Hamilton, Ellen Martin Henrotin, Ellen R. Jewitt, Mary Hunt Loomis, Emily (Mrs. Franklin) MacVeagh, and Mary Wilmarth.

Although the Society first gathered in members’ homes, as its numbers grew it met in other venues, including the foyer of Orchestra Hall and the Fine Arts building. In 1922, The Fortnightly of Chicago purchased the notable Helen and Bryan Lathrop House (120 E. Bellevue Place) from Helen Aldis Lathrop, a long-time member. The House was designed by Charles Follen McKim of architectural firm McKim, Mead & White and built in 1892. It was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1973, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, and continues to serve as the home of the Fortnightly today.

Individual members still present programs several times each year, but guests more regularly speak at The Fortnightly. Over the years, the Society has hosted prominent speakers including Mark Twain, Henry James, Robert Frost, Isaac Stern, and William Butler Yeats. More recently, guest speakers have included Daniel Barenboim, Frank McCourt, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ed Pashke, Patrick Fitzgerald, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Yo-Yo Ma, Mary Zimmerman, and Jeanne Gang.

In addition to luncheon programs each fortnight, afternoon teas and evening dinners feature member and guest speakers or performances by actors and musicians. Special activities of The Fortnightly include seminars, unique tours, and visits to artists’ studios and local museums. Particular interest groups include book discussion, bridge, film discussion, investment club, the Fortnightingales and opera lectures.


55.6 Linear Feet (46 boxes, 4 oversize boxes, and 26 volumes)


Chicago Woman’s Society founded in 1873 by Kate Newell Doggett. Records document the founding, operations, and activities of The Fortnightly of Chicago and its members. Includes historical materials, meeting minutes (restricted), scrapbooks, notices, member biographical information, members' and guests' papers, photographs, yearbooks, and other administrative and activity records.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Corporate Papers, 1898-2013
Boxes 1-9
Series 2: Kate Newell Doggett Papers, 1869-2016, bulk 1869-1905
Boxes 12-12a
Series 3: Yearbooks, 1878-2018
Volumes 1-25
Series 4: Committee Records, 1922-2016, bulk 1963-2016
Boxes 12a-13a
Series 5: Notices, 1877-2017, bulk 1908-2017
Boxes 14-16
Series 6: Program Materials, 1872-2018
Boxes 17-22
Series 7: Guest Books, 1887-1943
Boxes 22a-22b
Series 8: Gift Records, 1888-2016
Box 22b
Series 9: Scrapbooks and Clippings, 1889-2007, undated
Boxes 23-23b
Series 10: Audiovisual, 1902-2011
Boxes 24-25
Series 11: Anniversaries and Histories, 1903-2016, bulk 1903-1990s
Boxes 26-28
Series 12: Member and Biographical Information, 1884-2017
Boxes 29-30a
Series 13: Bookplates and Books, 1923-1940, undated
Box 31
Series 14: Historic Preservation Foundation of the Fortnightly, 1999-2017
Box 31a
Series 15: Bryan Lathrop House, 1914-2015
Boxes 32-38
Series 16: Historic Card Files, various dates
Boxes 39-41
Oversize Materials
Box 42

Collection Stack Location

1 19 6-7; 2 48 6


Gift, The Fortnightly of Chicago, 1977.

Processed by

Members of The Fortnightly of Chicago, Martha Briggs, Catherine Grandgeorge, 2006-2019.

Inventory of the Fortnightly of Chicago records, 1869-2018
Members of The Fortnightly of Chicago, Catherine Grandgeorge
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States