Helen Page Bates

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Nellie Frances Bates (Page), PhD

Also Known As: "Helen"
Birthplace: Rockford, Winnebago County, IL, United States
Death: September 30, 1933 (73)
(convalescent home), 2504 Dana Street, Berkeley, Alameda County, CA, United States
Place of Burial: Rockford, Winnebago County, IL, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John Lucas Page and Ellen Page
Wife of Walter Gillette Bates
Sister of Lucas Page; William Page and Gertrude Gold Page

Occupation: teacher, librarian, reformist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Helen Page Bates

Famous First

First American Woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in Economics


~• aka, At Wellesley (class of '83) as Nellie F. Page

~• from: https://digital.janeaddams.ramapo.edu/items/show/1863

"Helen Page Bates was a professor of economics at Rockford College from 1896-1898. She resided at Hull-House from 1898-1902. In 1902, Bates moved to Cleveland to live at Goodrich House until 1904. She then became a librarian, working at the New York State Library, the Russel Sage Foundation Library, and worked as a reader for the University of California Press. Bates died in 1933"
A memorial stone commemorates both Helen and her husband Wells Gillette Bates at Cedar Bluff cemetery in Rockford.


Another early grad. of Wellesley was Harriet Elizabeth Emerson (1861-1945)


  • Wellesley College--Bachelor of Arts, 1883
  • married at a Mission Presbyterian church in Las Vegas, New Mexico, Nov. 1887 {Walter Gillette Bates of NY}
  • lived in Prescott and Walnut Grove with husband until after the dam there collapsed in 1890
  • may have moved w/husband to Florida
  • Walter died of unknown causes in 1893
  • University of Wisconsin--Fellow in Economics, 1896 √ ~• in Badger yearbook entitled 1897 (sic)
    • graduated June 25, 1896
    • one of 22 fellows (entire Wisco. Graduate programs); Nellie was one of three of these 22 who were women.
    • studied under Richard Ely
    • see Lake, work cited below
  • Unity Social Settlement (1901) Minneapolis, Minn.
  • New York School of Philanthropy--Graduate, 1902
  • a contemporary of Mary Richmond who was her age and also from Illinois]
  • Professor of Economics and History, Rockford College--1896-1898
  • Hull House, Chicago--1898-1902
    • "Hull House became, at its inception in 1889, "a community of university women" whose main purpose was to provide social and educational opportunities for working class people (many of them recent European immigrants) in the surrounding neighborhood. The "residents" (volunteers at Hull were given this title) held classes in literature, history, art, domestic activities (such as sewing), and many other subjects. Hull House also held concerts that were free to everyone, offered free lectures on current issues, and operated clubs for both children and adults."
    • https://dp.la/primary-source-sets/settlement-houses-in-the-progress...
  • Goodrich House, Cleveland--1898-1904
    • a settlement house
      • " The settlement movement was a reformist social movement that began in the 1880s and peaked around the 1920s in England and the United States. Its goal was to bring the rich and the poor of society together in both physical proximity and social interconnectedness. Its main object was the establishment of "settlement houses" in poor urban areas, in which volunteer middle-class "settlement workers" would live, hoping to share knowledge and culture with, and alleviate the poverty of, their low-income neighbours. The settlement houses provided services such as daycare, education, and healthcare to improve the lives of the poor in these areas."
  • Sociological Librarian, New York State Library--1902-1905
  • Librarian, Russell Sage Foundation Library--1905-1913
  • Editorial Reader, University of California Press--1916-1919
  • Assistant in Economics and Social Economics--1919
  • Librarian, Departments of Economics and Political Science--1925-1930
  • Librarian, Bureau of Public Administration and Library of Economic Research--1930-1932


cited in

  • Progressive New World: How Settler Colonialism and Transpacific Exchange Shaped American Reform Marilyn Lake; Harvard University Press, Jan 7, 2019 - History - 270 pages
    • "In a bold argument, Marilyn Lake shows that race and reform were mutually supportive as Progressivism became the political logic of settler colonialism at the turn of the 20th century. She points to exchanges between American and Australasian reformers who shared racial sensibilities, along with a commitment to forging an ideal social order."
    • Marilyn Lake, AO, is Professorial Fellow in History at the University of Melbourne

Earned Doctorates for Women in the Nineteenth Century Walter Crosby Eells AAUP Bulletin Vol. 42, No. 4 (Winter, 1956), pp. 644-651

a few of many newspaper articled

sources and further reading

view all 31

Helen Page Bates's Timeline

February 4, 1860
Rockford, Winnebago County, IL, United States