Our History

Since 1865, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and its predecessor institutions, Wesley Memorial Hospital and Passavant Memorial Hospital, have emphasized and achieved excellence. Today, as in the past, we provide leading-edge, compassionate care that honors and fulfills every patient’s unique needs. Moreover, as the primary teaching hospital for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern Memorial embraces a mission that focuses on the importance of—and the interrelationships among—superb clinical care, novel research, and high-caliber medical education.

Founded in 1897 as The Passavant Woman’s Aid Society, The Woman’s Board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital is one of Chicago’s oldest charitable organizations. Although the name of the board has changed, our commitment to compassionate care has never wavered. From our founding to today, the dedicated members of The Woman’s Board have organized hundreds of creative and diverse events to benefit Northwestern Memorial Hospital and have raised and donated millions of dollars to enhance the quality of patient care, research, community service and education. We are proud to have been a source of leadership and support for more than 115 years and to have helped build Northwestern into a world-class leader in healthcare.

Northwestern’s Beginning

Northwestern Memorial’s predecessor hospitals had their roots in Chicago’s Lutheran and Methodist Episcopal deaconess movement, spiritual communities of women organized during the 19th century to provide for the sick and needy. The formative years were marked by the struggles of these unpaid secular groups in caring for patients, raising funds,...

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The Woman’s Aid Society

The Woman’s Aid Society of Passavant Memorial Hospital was formally established on January 30, 1897 when Rev. William A. Passavant Jr., son of the founder of Passavant Hospital, brought together nine civic-minded women to help maintain the work of the hospital. These women, with Mrs. John S. Runnells as their...

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A New Hospital

In the mid-1920’s, Passavant Memorial Hospital was invited to become affiliated with Northwestern University and announced plans to build a new hospital on the medical center campus in Streeterville. The Woman’s Aid Society’s Executive Committee favored the affiliation plans and continued their important work on behalf of Passavant Hospital. In...

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The Woman’s Board begins long-standing fundraising initiatives

In 1940, the Woman’s Aid Society’s name changed to The Woman’s Board. During this decade The Woman’s Board established two current and long-standing fundraising initiatives; in 1946, opening the Hospital’s first gift shop, which we continue to manage as the Pulse Gift Shop, and organizing and planning the first Passavant...

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Northwestern Memorial Hospital and The Woman’s Board

In 1972, Passavant and neighboring Chicago Wesley Memorial consolidated to form Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the largest private academic medical center in Illinois. Other important milestones included mergers with Prentice Women's Hospital and Maternity Center and the Stone Institute of Psychiatry (1975), and the opening of the Olson Critical Care Pavilion...

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The Woman’s Board in the 21st Century

In 2000, The Woman’s Board received the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Distinguished Philanthropist Award for its outstanding leadership and generosity and for exemplifying the spirit and tradition of support of patient care, research and education at the hospital. Since then, The Woman’s Board has continued its dedicated service to Northwestern with...

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Our Future

The Woman’s Board’s unwavering commitment to elevating Northwestern Memorial’s profile as a world-class leader in healthcare guides our future work and fundraising. Over the years, The Board and its members have contributed more than $65 million in support of the mission and activities of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. We hope that...

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From our Photo Archives

A popular fundraiser, The Petite Parade, was started in 1960 and organized for many years.

Mrs. Loyal Davis, Mrs. Leon Mandel, Mrs. James Ward Thorne and Mrs. Alden B. Swift with French designer Mainbocher admiring his newly designed nurses uniforms commissioned by the Woman’s Board.

Groundbreaking for the new wing in 1956: Edison Dick, Mrs. Homer Hargrave, Dr. Howard Lindberg, and Mrs. Charles Ziebarth

Copyright 2015 The Woman’s Board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital