Illinois Humane Society
As one of the first agencies in the country to deal with abused and neglected children, it was a pioneer in advocating for legislation to address child protection in the workplace and society. Over the years, IHS operated full-scale family service offices in Chicago.
From 1973 to 2007, IHS has acted as a private society that provides seed money to new projects serving disadvantaged children in Illinois, leaving the care of animals to the many animal organizations that have sprung up since the Illinois Humane Society was formed. In 2008, it adjusted its mission to address the most important issues facing disadvantaged children in Illinois, changing its name in 2009 to the Bright Promises Foundation.
A fountain outside Mary McDowell Settlement House
There were few opportunities a century ago for travelers on the streets of Chicago to obtain fresh drinking water. In 1877 the Illinois Humane Society began erecting public drinking fountains. They commissioned a design "both pleasing and practical" by which water would flow at three levels, first accommodating thirsty people at the top, then horses and finally dogs and small animals near the ground level. The cost was $70 per fountain and $60 for a hookup to the city water pipes, including the services of a plumber and stonemason.
The fountain in the photograph, which is undated, was outside the Mary McDowell Settlement House at 4630 S. McDowell Street, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Sixty-seven such fountains were maintained throughout the city at tone time. One is still in use at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Michigan Avenue, opposite the Water Tower and a second fountain is on display in the Museum of Science and Industry.
Headquarters of the Society, 1912
Marking the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, 1965
The Illinois Humane Society building at 1145 S. Wabash Avenue was closed and later demolished. A fixture from the building was removed and rehung at the new Polk Street offices of the Society's Children Service Division.
Standing in front of the building are, left to right, board members Benjamin Gingiss, Judge Hubert Will and Norman Pierce, with Mayor Richard J. Daley.
The Illinois Humane Society today
The Illinois Humane Society continues its work today by providing seed money grants for new, innovative programs serving the needs of disadvantaged children in Illinois.
The records of IHS are archived at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a collection of IHS papers are at the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield. A book detailing IHS history is available from the IHS office.