Language Arts Teachers

Language Arts Teachers

Women artists from Illinois have spirited stories to tell. With a little research, bolstered by critical thinking and creativity, students can write a short story or a biography about women from their neighborhood. We’ve found that students get very attached to the artists they study.

Three or four students could work on an artist together…one researching and writing about what foods people ate the year the painting was made…another might look into fashions or manners of the day…others might study the type of painting (style, subject, composition) and what it reveals about the artist who painted it. When research and write-ups are done, the team could give a presentation of their findings to the class.

If there are women artists who lived in your town or area of the state, their works and experiences might be of special interest to your students. We can help you locate them. Send us an email telling us your Illinois town, and we’ll locate the artist who is nearest to you. Then you can go to the Artists section of our website to learn what we’ve found out about her. You may want to do a little digging to learn more about her and her time period. Check out our Timeline also.

Seeing the Sites

You’ll find information and resources about Illinois art, history and writing at the sites listed below. Check our Links page also. Be sure to look for facts, historical descriptions, and ideas at your local historical society, art center and library. Libraries have often been repositories for local artists’ works. Visit the artist’s home and places she frequented if they are still standing.

Women Building Chicago
Read a description of the award-wining book, Women Building Chicago 1790-1990, A Biographical Dictionary at Artist biographies are detailed and especially well written. Also see the Chicago Area Women’s History Council website which supports research, writing, preservation and teaching of women’s history. It initiated the Women Building Chicago book.

Early Women’s Club Directory
Elizabeth Lindsay Davis wrote about African-American Women’s Clubs in her book Lifting as They Climb and she started the Phyllis Wheatley Club and Home in Chicago in 1896.

Illinois Women Novelists in the Nineteenth Century
Provides analysis and an annotated bibliography

19th and Early 20th Century Life in Illinois
Illinois State Museum’s At Home in the Heartland website about family life in Illinois including timelines, maps, objects, people, and teacher resources.

Illinois Literature Course Description
Describing a course on Illinois literature she developed, Beth Widmaier Capo emphasized the significance of studying state literature. She might as well have been talking about a state’s art. She writes: “Using region as a lens can provide links between student experience with landscape and the literature. Roughly half the students were from a specific area that an author was from or a work was set in. …. (an author’s) proximity allowed students to understand that literature is not some alien, elitist form written in Parisian garrets or New York lofts, but that poetry and prose were natural responses to the same Midwestern landscape and customs that produced them.”

Status of Illinois Women in 1868
Catharine Waugh McCulloch (1862-1945) wrote a play about the status of women in Illinois in 1868. Your students might write (and perform) one about the life and times of an early woman artist from your county.

Eliza W. Farnham’s Life in Prairie Land
Written in 1846 describing her life in Illinois. Look for similar books, diaries and journals written by, or about, women. Another example is the book Maud, the diary (1880-95) of Maude Rittenhouse from Cairo, Il. A review in the 1940 Lima News.

Illinois Oral Histories
The oral history collection of the University of Illinois at Springfield. The collection is a vital record of life in Illinois and beyond from the late 19th century to the present, and preserves the memories of many individuals whose experiences would not otherwise be recorded.