Women Who Built Illinois Database

Women Who Built Illinois is a first-of-its-kind database that includes information on more than 100 female architects, engineers, developers, designers, builders, landscape architects and interior designers and clients and their projects between 1879 and 1979. The database is the result of an in-depth survey of women in architecture & design-related fields that Landmarks Illinois launched in 2020 — a year that marked the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, upholding a U.S. citizen’s right to vote regardless of sex. The database calls attention to the women who helped to create places that today are cherished by cities and communities across Illinois, many of which remain unprotected without proper landmark designation.

Landmarks Illinois encourages local historic preservation commissions to evaluate and prioritize places identified in the Women Who Built Illinois survey for local landmark and/or National Register nominations. Landmarks Illinois also welcomes additional research on women in the survey for whom more information is needed. Please send information on existing women in the database and/or of additional women in these fields who were active in Illinois prior to 1979 to Kendra Parzen, Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Manager, at kparzen@Landmarks.org.

(Pictured: Architect Natalie Griffin de Blois, second from left, teaching at the University of Texas. De Blois spent 30 years at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill starting in 1945 and became a pioneer for women in the male-dominated field. Photo courtesy of the University of Texas at Austin.)

Explore the Women Who Built Illinois Database

Additional information

Research for and development of the database was led by DiChiera of Landmarks Illinois as well as Erica Ruggiero, Principal at McGuire Igleski & Associates, Inc., and Landmarks Illinois intern Cray Kennedy. Additional research and peer review was provided by Julia Bachrach, a Chicago-based architectural historian, planner and preservationist and student volunteer Jared Saef, who also contributed research and photography.

The database is made possible thanks to generous financial support from: Women in Restoration & Engineering (WiRE), AIA Illinois, Kohler Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Kim Kerbis, in honor of Gertrude Lempp Kerbis.

Read more about the database here.


Margaret Zirkel Young (Provided by Young)

Po Hu Shao (Courtesy of Loebl Schlossman & Hackl)

Gertrude Lempp Kerbis (Courtesy of Chris Deford)

Georgia Louise Harris Brown (Credit Ebony Magazine)

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