Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Avis Louise Winchell Grant, 1871-1964
By Julia Flynn, Researcher, Evanston History Center, Evanston, Illinois.
Member, NAWSA; President, Woman's Club of Evanston; President, Evanston Political Equality League.
Avis Louise Winchell was born in 1871 in Ann Arbor, Michigan to Newton H Winchell and Charlotte Sophia Imus. She married Ulysess Sherman Grant in 1891 and had four children, Addison Winchell (1894), Lois (1900), Avis Harriet (1904) and Willard Winchell (1909). She died in 1964 in St Joseph's Hospital, Elgin, Illinois.
Avis Grant was an active participant in women's organizations, a local leader of thought on international concerns and a prominent leader in the woman suffragist movement. She attended the University of Minnesota graduating from the College of Arts in 1904 and a member of the Delta Gamma Sigma Fraternity. Grant remained active in Delta Gamma affairs, serving as Assistant Editor to the Anchora, a quarterly magazine for many years. Avis Winchell Grant moved to Evanston, Illinois in 1899 from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Grant enrolled in various courses of study at Northwestern University from 1906 to 1911 as a Special Student to further her interest in selected studies and while these did not amount to a formal degree, she remained engaged and active in the academic arena.
Grant was one of the founding members of the Evanston Political Equality League and served as its president from 1904-1911. It affiliated with the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association (IESA), working on the community level to distribute pamphlets, host lectures and enroll individual members from Evanston to support the suffrage cause. During the many years between legislative victories in the fight for woman suffrage, the Evanston Political Equality League kept the issue of suffrage alive in the community and raised funds for the Illinois Political Equality League.
In 1905, Grant joined the Woman's Club of Evanston and from 1909 to 1911, served as Club President. She remained actively involved afterwards serving on many and varied committees including the Auditing Committee, Art Committee, Committee on Club Policy, Committee of Present Day Problems in the social services department of the club and as Chairwoman of the Building Committee for the new club house located at 1702 Chicago Ave.
She co-founded the Evanston School of World Affairs which for many years, brought internationally renowned speakers to Evanston for the benefit of improving international relations. She was President of the University Guild at Northwestern University from 1930 to 1932 and was an active member of the Bryant Circle, a woman-only study group. It was devoted to cultural and literary education, a form of self-cultivation originally following the Chautauqua study course but departing from the sciences and focusing more on history and literature.
In later years, Grant continued to support issues pertaining to the civil rights of women and children. She travelled to the United Kingdom residing in and volunteering at Toynbee Hall in London's East End where she experienced first-hand the poverty, poor health and inadequate housing affecting residents of the area. The goal of her work at Toynbee Hall was to improve circumstances for the community and then return home to Evanston, Illinois to implement strategies that were effective at reducing poverty, improving health and living conditions, a task she devoted her entire life to.
Evanston Women's History Project, Biography File of Avis Louise Winchell Grant http://evanstonwomen.org
Evanston History Center Archives, Collection 50 - Woman's Club of Evanston 1927-1989
The Anchora of Delta Gamma Volume 72
General Alumni Catalogue University of Minnesota 1916. Page 457
Minnesota Historical Society
The History of Northwestern University and Evanston
Toynbee Hall, London
Northwestern University Archives, Woman's Club of Evanston records.