Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Louise Bowen  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: Chicago, Illinois

Died: 1953

-- Louise Bowen on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection


Biographical and Professional Information

Louise deKoven Bowen 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. (Information taken from the University of Illinois Collection of correspondence of Louise Bowen)

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Growing Up with a City
ISBN: 0252070445

University of Illinois Press. 2001

Louise de Koven Bowen grew up in a Chicago caught between frontier and urbanity--a young city struggling to wipe the mud from its boots. Born into privilege and comfort, she demonstrated from an early age an extraordinary sense of social responsibility and alertness to how she could improve the circumstances of those around her. Smart, savvy, and bracingly candid, Growing Up with a City offers a rare portrait of Chicago and its growing pains from a woman's perspective.

"When I took a walk," Bowen says, "I liked to go into the poorer parts of the town and see what was going on, especially in my own ward." An early and longtime supporter of Jane Addams and Hull-House, Bowen was active in a multitude of reform organizations, describing herself as a third-class train passenger who goes out every day and pushes the train uphill because it cannot make the grade on its own. She was instrumental in creating a separate juvenile court and Chicago's Juvenile Protection Association, and she helped found the Woman's City Club, an organization that brought women together in one central organization to work for the welfare of the city. She was serving as president of the Chicago Equal Suffrage Association when the Illinois legislature gave women of the state the vote in local and federal elections. She even flirted with the idea of running for mayor in 1923.

More than a record of her accomplishments, Bowen's memoir is a disarmingly witty narrative of an enthusiastic, generous, and perpetually optimistic benefactor--with herself often the target of her own wry humor. Invigorating and endearing, her story lets us see how women made a difference in Chicago. This reissue features a substantial introduction by historian Maureen Flanagan.