Skip to main content

West Side Council of Parents and Teachers Records

Identifier: spe-nhrc-wsc

Scope and Contents

This collection covers the West Side Council from its beginning in 1923 up through its division into West Side Council North and West Side Council South in 1949. The collection is especially strong in the years 1939-1946. The leaders of the West Side Council were almost entirely female, so this collection illustrates what type of community and civic engagement was open to women during this time period. Biographical information for individual Council presidents appears, as well as some information about the different schools that were represented by the West Side Council. Information can also be gleaned about the neighborhoods in which the schools operated. Finally, information about the activities of the Chicago Public Library and the state and national Councils of Parents and Teachers is also present. The collection consists of scrapbooks, publications, correspondence, programs, photographs, by-laws and directories.

One folder of photographs and one oversized scrapbook are housed in a flat box (Box 6) and listed at the end of the inventory.


  • 1923 - 1950
  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 1949

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

The West Side Council of Parents and Teachers formed on April 4, 1923, as an umbrella group to support PTA units in individual elementary schools on Chicago’s West Side. Six schools originally formed the Council: Robert Emmet, Francis Scott Key, Henry H. Nash, Herbert Spencer, John Hay, and Charles Sumner. Three of those, Emmet, Key, and Hay, had PTA units dating back to 1910. The West Side Council was affiliated with the Illinois Council of Parents and Teachers (ICPT), as well as the National Council of Parents and Teachers. The West Side Council was also a part of ICPT’s District 23 in Chicago.

The Council grew quickly from six member schools in 1923 to 12 in 1926. Growth continued, and by 1939, the West Side Council had 35 member schools and was the second largest Council in Illinois. Individual membership also grew. In 1943, the Council boasted 3,995 members, and by 1946, there were 9,518 members. During the war years, some schools dropped out, but by 1949, the Council had 48 member schools:

• Jacob Beidler Elementary School

• William Cullen Bryant School

• Robert Burns Elementary School

• Thomas Chalmers Elementary School

• Frederic Chopin Elementary School

• Christopher Columbus Elementary School

• Daniel J. Corkery Elementary School

• Edward C. Delano Elementary School

• Robert Emmet Elementary School

• Leif Ericsson Scholastic Academy

• Joseph E. Gary Elementary School

• John M. Gregory Elementary School

• Charles G. Hammond Elementary School

• John Hay Community Academy

• Samuel S. Hayes School

• Julia Ward Howe School

• George Howland Elementary School

• Andrew Jackson School

• Francis Scott Key Elementary School

• Key-Clark [G.R. Clark Elementary School, branch of Key]

• William H. King Elementary School

• John A. Komensky School

• Jean de M. Lafayette School

• Victor F. Lawson School

• John Marshall Elementary School

• Roswell B. Mason Elementary School

• Horatio N. May Elementary School

• Cyrus H. McCormick Elementary School

• Joseph Medill Elementary School

• Moses Montefiore Academy

• Henry H. Nash Elementary School

• Rezin Orr School

• James Otis Elementary School

• William Penn Elementary School

• Josiah L. Pickard Elementary School

• Ambrose Plamondon Elementary School

• Nathaniel Pope Elementary School

• Martin Ryerson Elementary School

• St. Callistus School

• Henry D. Shepard School

• John M. Smyth Elementary School

• Jesse Spalding School [school for disabled children]

• Herbert Spencer School

• Charles Sumner School

• Alfred Tennyson School

• George W. Tilton Elementary School

• John A. Walsh Elementary School

• Eli Whitney Elementary School

With so many schools, the Council felt it could not adequately serve its members, and a decision was made in 1949 to split into two Councils: West Side Council North, with 22 member schools, and West Side Council South, with 24 member schools.

The West Side Council organized educational courses, conferences, and other events to support local PTA officers in their roles of working toward a better educational experience for their children. These activities were accomplished through a number of different committees including Exceptional Child, Health and Summer Round-Up, Historian, Home and Family Life, Hospitality, Juvenile Protection, Legislation, Membership and Room Mothers, Music, Parent Education, Parent Teacher Magazine, Poster and Exhibit, Publications, Publicity, Radio and Recreation, Safety, Scholarship and Student Aid, School Education, Visual Education, Ways and Means, and Library.


3.5 Linear Feet (in 6 boxes including 8 photographs)

Language of Materials



The West Side Council of Parents and Teachers formed on April 4, 1923, as an umbrella group to support PTA units in individual elementary schools on Chicago’s West Side. This collection documents the West Side Council from its beginning in 1923 up through its division into West Side Council North and West Side Council South in 1949.


The collection is arranged in two series: Series 1: Scrapbooks, 1923-1949 and Series 2: General Files, 1939-1950.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred by Chicago Public Library, Austin Branch with the Austin Community Collection in 1984.

Related Materials

Faith Rich Papers

Guide to the West Side Council of Parents and Teachers Records
Johanna Russ, 2013 October. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Michelle McCoy, 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository

Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States
(312) 747-4875