Behind the Names: Residence Halls Named After Women

Thomas Hendrickson is an undergraduate in history at the University of Illinois and an Undergraduate Assistant at the Archives Research Center.

A total of ten residence halls are named after women who have had a profound impact on the University of Illinois.

Allen Hall

Allen Hall is named after Louisa C. Allen (1848-1920). She was only 22 years old when she was hired at the University and given the major tasks of overseeing female education and developing instruction in domestic science for women. Despite little institutional support and with no precedent upon which to model such a program, Allen offered a full new course of study during the 1875-1876 academic year. Her early work helped make higher education more obtainable for women. [1]

Alta G. Saunders

Blaisdell and Saunders, halls within Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall (PAR), are named after Daisy Luana Blaisdell (1866-1952) and Alta G. Saunders (1886-1948). [2] Blaisdell was the first housemother  of Illinois’ first women’s residence hall, and also served as a professor of German for over three decades (1900-1931). Saunders was a professor of Business English, later becoming the Chair of the Business English Division. She also served as the director of the Alumni Association. [3]

Maudelle T.B. Bousfield (c. 1906)


One of the University’s newest residence halls is named after the highly influential Maudelle Tanner Brown Bousfield. She was the first African-American woman to graduate from the University of Illinois and did so with honors in 1906. She went on serve as a teacher and become the first black principal in the Chicago area. [4]


Mary Busey (far left) and Laura Evans (far right)

Busey-Evans Hall, the first residence hall at the University of Illinois, was originally named the Women’s Residence Hall. It was quickly renamed after Mary E. Busey (1854-1930) and Laura B. Evans (1860-1932) who were both members of the University’s Board of Trustees and were integral in securing housing for women. [5]

Maria Leonard

The wings of the Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall (LAR) are named after two women as well, Maria Leonard (1880-1976) and Mariam A. Shelden (1912-1975). Both were Deans of Women and were instrumental in promoting equality and creating programs for disadvantaged students. [6]


FAR – Trelease Hall

Leah F. Trelease (1894-1957) also has a hall of the Florida Avenue Residence Halls (FAR) named after her. Trelease was a renowned teacher within the English Department and also served as the Dean of Women after Maria Leonard. [7]

ISR – Wardall Hall

Lastly, Wardall Hall of the Illinois Street Residence Halls (ISR) is named after Ruth A. Wardall (1877-1936). Wardall was a Professor of Home Economics and later head the Department of Home Economics. To this day Ruth Wardall remains nationally renowned for her work in the field. [8] … [9]


[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[9] Photos of residence halls:

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  • Jane G CulleyBonaldi

    Lived in Evans Hall from 1960 to 1964 on the 1st and 4th floor. Wonderful experience! Had a ball! I used to run up all 4 flights of steps or take the elevator! I used to walk all the way home for lunch from the Fine Arts Building. Now you can eat in any dorm…what a wonderful idea. Love the U of I C/U……

  • Hope T. Haberer

    Lived in Trelease Hall in the early 70s for 3 years. I think I chose it as a freshman because it was air conditioned and newer than the other dorms. I also delivered the DAILY ILLINI to the rooms on all 12 floors there as my campus job for spending money. I used a bike to get to most of my classes which were not very close, but always enjoyed the ride…The campus has always had such great bike paths! I also have fond memories of our womens intramural football team practicing outside the dorm on the large lawn area around the dorm.

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