Adult Education Council of Greater Chicago records, 1928-1975
- TitleAdult Education Council of Greater Chicago records MSAECC75
- PublisherSpecial Collections
- RepositorySpecial Collections
- Physical Description9.0 Linear feet
- AbstractThe Adult Education Council of Greater Chicago was established in 1924 and incorporated in 1925 as the Chicago Forum Council. The purpose was "to promote understanding and good will by bringing people of different groups into friendly association with each other for discussion of problems related to the public welfare." The collection contains annual reports, brochures, constitution and by-laws, correspondence, auditors' examination of records, minutes, programs from musical events, clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, and published materials.
- OriginationAdult Education Council of Greater Chicago.
The Adult Education Council of Greater Chicago was established in 1924 and incorporated in 1925 as the Chicago Forum Council. The purpose was "to promote understanding and good will by bringing people of different groups into friendly association with each other for discussion of problems related to the public welfare," (footnote to Auditor's report, 1926, folder 17). The organization sponsored forums in Chicago and brought in speakers to debate issues of the day. The initial advisory committee included such well-known Chicago reformers as Jane Addams, Preston Bradley, and Harriet Vittum.
In 1927, the Forum Council began the publication of Educational Events in Chicago, a monthly listing of educational activities for adults. That same year, a group of educators founded the Chicago Adult Education Conference. It was to be an organization for professionals that would focus on adult education from a practitioner's point of view. By 1929, the functions of the two organizations were similar enough that the boards of directors decided to merge. In August of that year, they announced the creation of the Adult Education Council of Greater Chicago (AEC). In October 1931, it was reorganized as a federation of agencies that offered or supported adult education programs.
The AEC continued to sponsor forums and publicize educational events. With a new emphasis on professionalism, it offered specialized conferences on the practices of adult education. In 1936, the organization expanded into cultural activities, creating the Musical Arts Piano and Songs cycles at Orchestra Hall. The low cost concerts were offered until 1948, when Allied Arts Corporation took them over.
In 1948, the AEC began to have problems. Declining attendance at the piano series had left it in debt and the resignation of Ralph McCallister, the executive director, left it without supervision. The Board of Directors decided to economize by limiting the size of the paid staff and the scope of the activities. By 1953, the Community Fund had withdrawn support because the lack of an executive director had resulted in a disintegrating program.
In 1956, the Board of Directors hired a new executive director, Robert Ahrens. One of the first activities planned under his direction was George Bernard Shaw Day, July 26, 1956 to honor the centennial of Shaw's birth. It received national publicity for the AEC and resulted in an increase in donations and membership. This convinced the Board of Directors to sponsor an annual special event. As part of Ahrens' efforts to revitalize the organization, be began publication of a newsletter in 1957, and in 1958, the AEC took over publication of the Chicago Exhibitions Calendar (Chicago Arts Calendar after 1962) from the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1960, reflecting the growing diversity of its membership and programs, the AEC began to create a series of assemblies which related to specific interest areas. The first was the Arts Assembly, which was to become an independent organization but remained a part of the AEC.
In 1962, Ahrens resigned and was replaced as executive director by Esther Frain. Her years with the organization were marked by increasing financial difficulties. Although the AEC was able to continue to sponsor its successful program, rising costs often exceeded income. With no outside funding, special events could not compensate for the deficit. Income from the College Booklet and Speakers Bureau dropped as colleges faced declining enrollment and low budgets. Fain served for two years as a volunteer, but finally the Board of Directors agreed to dissolve and the organization closed on November 21, 1975.
Originally, the AEC was funded by contributions, but within its first year it had build up a list of lecturers from the forums and used it to establish a speakers bureau. By 1929, income from the speakers bureau accounted for half the year's income. It became both a major service activity and a source of funding for the organization. In 1936, the Adult Education Council began to publish the College Booklet, a listing of small colleges in the Midwest which was distributed free to high school students in the Chicago area. Colleges paid to be included, and since printing costs were low, the booklet became a major source of income.
The collection contains annual reports, brochures, constitution and by-laws, correspondence, auditors' examination of records, minutes, programs from musical events, clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, and published materials. The records document the history of the Adult Education Council from 1928 to 1975.
Adult Education Council of Greater Chicago records, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago
- Adult Education Council of Greater Chicago. -- Archives
- Hull-House (Chicago, Ill.).
- Adult education.
- Chicago Community Organizations.
- Geographic CoverageIllinois--Chicago.