White Rabbits (sculptors)
As the date of the fair's opening grew closer Taft realized that he would not be able to complete the decorations and discovering that all the male sculptors to be had were already employed elsewhere. So he asked Daniel Burnham if he could use women assistants, an occurrence that was virtually unheard of at that time. Burnham's reply was that Taft could, "Hire anyone, even white rabbits, if they can get the work done." Taft, an instructor of sculpture at the Chicago Art Institute, who had many qualified women students and who frequently employed women assistants himself, brought in a group of women assistants who were promptly dubbed "the White Rabbits."
From the ranks of the White Rabbits were to emerge some of the most talented and successful women sculptors of the next generation. These were to include:
- Julia Bracken — June 10, 1871 – June 22, 1942
- Ellen Rankin Copp (1853-1901)
- Carol Brooks (MacNeil) — January 15, 1871 – 1944
- Helen Farnsworth Mears — 1867 – February 17, 1916
- Margaret Gerow (Proctor)
- Mary Lawrence (sometimes spelled "Lawerence" — later to become Mary Lawrence Tonetti)
- Bessie Potter Vonnoh — August 17, 1872 – 1954
- Janet Scudder — October 27, 1869 or 1875 – June 9, 1940
- Enid Yandell — October 6, 1870 – June 12, 1934
Besides the work that the White Rabbits did on the Horticultural Building several of them were to obtain other commissions to produce sculpture at the Exposition. Among these were Lawrence's statue of Columbus, placed in front of the Administration Building, Yandell's Daniel Boone for the Kentucky Building, Bracken's Illinois Greeting the Nations in the Illinois Building and Mears' Columbia for the Wisconsin Building.
- Janet Scudder, Modeling My Life, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1925