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Congregational Training School for Women records, 1907-1948.

Identifier: RG4987

Content Description

This collection represents the institutional history of the Congregational Training School for Women at the Chicago Theological Seminary. The material focuses on the administrative workings of the school, correspondence between the school, graduates, and partners and alumnae association materials.


  • 1907-1948


Conditions Governing Access

Access to this collection is unrestricted and open to the public

Biographical / Historical

The Congregational Training School for Women was founded at Chicago Theological Seminary in 1909 as an opportunity to provide Congregational women with advanced educational training for professional positions within the Congregational Church at the beginning of the twentieth century. The school continued its mission until it was subsumed into Chicago Theological Seminary in 1926. This collection includes course schedules, correspondence, meeting minutes, reports, pamphlets, and alumnae association records.

Students were at least twenty-five years old, and generally from a middle-class, Midwestern background. A stipulation of entrance to the school was that students also possess a strong moral and religious character. Courses were taught under the rubric of religious, social work, and practical coursework. Practical courses included music, public speaking, arts and crafts, physical education, business skills, domestic arts, and foreign languages. Students were trained as professional church workers. The first graduating class included five women – one became a minister of a home missions parish in North Dakota, two became church assistants, one worked at a settlement house, and one took a position with the Congregational Educational Society in Chicago.

Florence Fensham was the first dean, succeeded by Agnes M. Taylor and Margaret M. Taylor, when Dean Fensham passed away unexpectedly in 1912. The Chicago Theological Seminary decided to allow full acceptance of women to its programs in 1926, thereby eliminating the need for a separate institution for women. The Congregational Training School for women was dissolved at that time.


2.53 Cubic Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Chicago Training School for Women (CTSW) was founded by the combined efforts of Florence Fensham and housed within the Chicago Theological Seminary. Fensham wanted to provide women with an opportunity to receive education and training for professional positions with the Congregational Church. Starting in 1909, the Chicago Training School for Women would continue providing its services until 1926, when women were able to attend the Chicago Theological Seminary. This collection includes bills, dean letters, printed materials, board minutes, reports, records and grades. The collection includes materials from the entire history of the Chicago Training School for Women. It includes monetary documentation, lease and indenture notices, dean correspondents, alumnae letters, student grades, board minutes, and outreach pamphlets.


Materials are arranged into four series. Whenever possible, materials are arranged in chronological order. However, in Series II: Dean Correspondence, there are two folders arranged alphabetically. During processing, it was determined these two folders of correspondence were too fragile to be arranged chronologically. Materials were left in original order in this series. Please see the detailed container listing below for more detail.

Custodial History

Donated by the Chicago Theological Seminary, January 2011.

Content Description

Originally obtained in 2011, additional material became available in 2014.

Related Materials

Zikmund, Barabara Brown, ed. Hidden Histories in the United Church of Christ. New York: United Church Press, 1987. Call Number: 9.8.11

Davis, Ozora Stearns (1866-1931).Chicago Theological Seminary collection, 1896-1933. Collection Number: MS 4974

Physical Description

The collection contains letters, pamphlets, bills, photos and a set of 8 books. Two books contain red rot and must be handled carefully.

Processing Information

Accessioned and processed by Cristina Prochilo in 2012. Re-processed by William McCarthy in April 2016.



Congregational Training School for Women records, 1907-1948.
William McCarthy
4 April 2016
Description rules
Dacs2 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
In English

Repository Details

Part of the Congregational Library & Archives Repository

14 Beacon Street
Suite 200
Boston MA 02108