Louise deKoven Bowen papers

 An inventory of the collection at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Summary Information

Richard J. Daley Library Special Collections and University Archives
Bowen, Louise de Koven, b.1859
Louise deKoven Bowen papers
Date [inclusive]
0.75 Linear feet
Part of the Jane Addams Memorial Collection. Louise deKoven Bowen (1859-1953) was a Chicago philanthopist, social reformer and benefactor of Hull-House. She was the director of the Woman's Club of Chicago and served as Hull-House Treasurer and president of the Board of Directors. She also served as the first president of the Juvenile Protective Association where she supervised research examining such issues as working conditions, racial prejudice, prostitution and popular entertainment and their effects on young people. In 1912, she donated a seventy-two acre summer campsite to Hull-House which became the Bowen Country Club, a country retreat for families from the neighborhood. The papers contain correspondence with Ada and Robert Hicks as well as articles, newspaper clippings and a Ph.D. thesis.

Preferred Citation

Louise deKoven Bowen papers, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago

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Biography of Louis deKoven Bowen

Louis deKoven Bowen was born into an elite Chicago family to Helen Hadduck and John deKoven in 1859. Bowen attended Dearborn Seminary and graduated in 1875. In 1886, Bowen married manufacturer and banker Joseph Tilton Bowen. The Bowen's children John, Joseph, Helen and Louise were born between 1886 and 1892. Their Astor St. mansion was a popular setting for social gatherings and political meetings. Bowen's long time friendship with Jane Addams began when Addams invited Bowen to join the Hull-House Woman's Club. Bowen became president of the Woman's Club and by 1896 Bowen was a trustee and the treasurer of Hull-House.

Bowen was a major financial supporter of Hull-House. Her contributions included donating funds for Bowen Hall and the Boy's Club, as well as financial donations totaling more than $500,000 over her lifetime. After her husband's death in 1911, Bowen donated 72 acres of land in Waukegan, Illinois, which became the Joseph T. Bowen Country Club, a summer retreat for children of the Hull-House neighborhood.

Louise deKoven Bowen and Jane Addams shared many core values: the creation of the Progressive Party, suffrage, urban industrialization and children's health and morality. In 1898, Bowen was part of a coalition of county judges, the Chicago Bar Association, and women reformers, which lobbied for the first court in the United States to separate delinquent children from adults. Bowen's work to protect children also can be seen in the Juvenile Protective Association, a group that conducted studies on urban problems which were disseminated in pamphlets on public health and social welfare issues concerning urbanization and children. Bowen's relations with Hull-House resident directors in the 1940s reveal her commitment to preserving Jane Addams' vision within Hull-House.

Bowen was a strong advocate for women's political participation through her work with the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association and the Chicago Equal Suffrage Association. In 1914, Bowen became a Progressive Party candidate for Cook County Board along with Mary McDowell and Sophonisba Breckinridge, although she did not serve.

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Scope and Contents

This correspondence chronicles Bowen's later life, including Hull-House, Bowen Country Club, and daily life in Bar Harbor, Maine. Correspondents include Lea Taylor, Lillie Peck, Russell Ballard, and Alma Petersen.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Richard J. Daley Library Special Collections and University Archives 2003-10-02

801 S. Morgan Street
Chicago, Illinois, 60607

Revision Description


Restrictions on Access


Restrictions on Use


Acquisition Information

Correspondence in this collection was gathered from several sources in the 1970s and 1980s. Correspondence to Lea D. Taylor and Lillie M. Peck originated in the Lea Taylor papers. Robert and Ada Y. Hicks correspondence originated in the Robert and Ada Hicks papers. Russell Ward Ballard correspondence was originally restricted, after his death the restriction was lifted. All letters and other material directly related to Jane Addams were removed from this collection.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Bowen, Louise de Koven, b.1859 -- Archives


  • Hull-House and Settlement House History.
  • Midwest Women's History.

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Alter, Sharon Z., "Louise deKoven Bowen," in Women Building Chicago: 1790-1990, Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast, eds., Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

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Collection Inventory

Series I: Louise deKoven Bowen Papers 

Box Folder

Correspondence, 1929, 1930, 1937, 1938 

1 1

Correspondence, 1939 

1 2

Correspondence, 1940 

1 3

Correspondence, 1941 

1 4

Correspondence, 1943 

1 5

Correspondence, 1944 

1 6

Correspondence, 1945 

1 7

Correspondence, March-August 1946 

1 8

Correspondence, September-December 1946 

1 9

Correspondence, January-April 1947 

1 10

Correspondence, May-July 1947 

1 11

Correspondence, August-September 1947 

1 12

Correspondence, October-December 1947 

1 13

Correspondence, January-June 1948 

1 14

Correspondence, July-December 1948 

1 15

Correspondence, 1949 

1 16

Correspondence, 1950 

1 17

Correspondence, 1951 

1 18

Correspondence, 1952 

1 19

Correspondence, 1957 

1 20

Correspondence, 1940-1948 

1 21

Correspondence, 1939, 1949 

1 22

BCC Reports, 1946 

1 23

Jane Addams, Newspaper Clippings and Letter, undated 

1 24

Telegrams, Letters, 1935 

1 25

Correspondence, Lea Taylor, 1937 

2 26

Correspondence, Lillie Peck, 1943 

2 27

Correspondence, Child Labor, 1949 

2 28

Correspondence, 1941 

2 29

Correspondence, Chicago Ethical Society, 1937 

2 30

Correspondence, Russell W. Ballard, 1943,1944 

2 31

Correspondence, Russell W. Ballard, 1946 

2 32

Correspondence, Russell W. Ballard, 1946 

2 33

Correspondence, Alma Petersen, 1948-1950 

2 34

"The Juvenile Protection Association," Mathews, Shailer, ed., The Woman Citizen's Library, Vol. 10, Chicago: The Civics Society, 1913 

2 35

"The Boy's Court," The Survey, November 22, 1913 

2 36

"The Common Welfare: Regulating Dance Halls, " The Survey, June 3, 1911 

2 37

"When Chicago Was Very Young," Atlantic Monthly, February, March 1926 

2 38

"Women in the Courts: The Need for Socializing Legal Processes," The Survey, March 1914 

2 39

"Women Police," The Survey, April 12, n.y. 

2 40

Newspaper Clipping, 1927 

2 41

, "Mrs. Bowen, 92, Speaks Her Mind on State of the Nation," Chicago Tribune, October 29, 1950 February 26, 1951 

2 42

"Louise deKoven Bowen: A Case History of the American Response to Jazz," Michael David Levin, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1985 

2 43

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