The University Guild was founded in 1892 by Mrs. Henry Wade Rogers, wife of the President of Northwestern University and Miss Cornelia Gray Lunt, daughter of Orrington Lunt, co-founder of both Evanston and the University.

These women with other women of Evanston who were active in the life of Evanston took part in the Guild’s development.   Among their Vision was a nationwide University Guild with chapters on many other college campuses.  The purpose was so promote all the causes of Higher Learning, with both men and women members. 

There were serious discussions as to what practical project for the University most needed their efforts.  They spoke of “an art building and museum”.   They drew up a formal constitution and avowed the purposes of the Guild: 

“To bring to the membership the intellectual resources of the University.  To promote the interests of University.  To work for the collection and exhibition of objects of art.  To advance the development and the appreciation of the fine arts in the University and in Evanston”
This continues to be the aim of the Guild. 

The Columbian Exposition of 1893 opened an opportunity for the women to form the nucleus for the collection of art and culture that they wished to assemble.  A committee was appointed for the secure rare objects that the foreign exhibitors would sell rather than ship them abroad again.  Our files contain several bills of sale from English, Danish, Italian, German, Swedish and Oriental agents, made out to the Guild president or the University.

    Many pieces of sculpture and porcelain were acquired at the World’s Fair through the association of Miss Cornelia Gray Lunt, one of the founders of the Guild, with Mrs. Potter Palmer, chairman of the Fair’s Women’s Committee.  Since that time members and friends have enlarged the Collection to include many special art objects of historical value and interest.   

In 1900 a member donated a catalog of the Guild’s collection.  The catalog contained detailed information about many items and was printed on stout paper stock.  The cover was decorated by the emblem that is used on our yearbooks and on most pages of this website.  The design was reproduced from “an original water color by B. Ostertag, a native of St. Louis who had studied and exhibited abroad, and come to Chicago in 1896.  The design was described in the catalog as follows:  “Against an Olympian blue background, Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom, War, and of the Liberal Arts, stands in the act of wreathing a pedestal on which is placed the Winged Victory, the artistic triumph of the world. The disk is supported by a conventionalized lion.” [Click] to see the Logo.

Scholarship aid to Northwestern women started in 1907.  $160 was allocated to two women who would “care for” the Guild rooms.  The dusting there was determined to be too heavy a job and they were then asked to assist with serving at the teas.  This responsibility continued for several years.  The practice of giving scholarships has continued to this day.  In 2018 four Northwestern women chosen by the scholarship committee, were awarded scholarships of $1,000 each.

The Guild has met in a variety of buildings in Evanston and on the Northwestern Campus over the years.  In 1939 a ground breaking ceremony was held for Scott Hall, the current home of the Guild.  For 50 years Scott Hall was the home of a beautiful auditorium, a spacious lounge for other meetings and receptions, a second floor curator’s office and storage space for the collection and records.  An ample serving kitchen with refrigerator and stove and a dumb waiter from the grill below was also on the second floor.  The top floor was funded by Northwestern President Scott and Mrs. Walter Dill Scott into a recreation area that included space for ping-pong, card games and other diversions.  The investment in the building by the Guild was less than $200,000.  The building was shared with the University Circle and other groups. 

The Guild's 125th Anniversary was celebrated on February 6, 2016.

The Guild now meets on the second floor of Scott Hall in the Guild Lounge. The lounge was completely redone and equipped with modern technology in 2015 - 2016. [Click] to see pictures of the "new" Guild Lounge.
The Guild has a long history and the current organization continues the schedule of two programs monthly, October to April held in the newly refurbished Guild Lounge in Scott Hall on the Northwestern campus.  The programs include presentations by professors and other instructors from Northwestern University and local speakers.  Each meeting is followed by a social time with tea, coffee and cookies. 


Copyright 2016 The University Guild. All rights reserved.