In 1916, under the leadership of Mrs. Frank R. Lillie, a small group of women established what would later become the University of Chicago Nursery School. The school began informally when a group of mothers, wanting to participate in war work, found that they could take turns supervising each other's children and thus have time to help with the needs of World War I.
For three months, this small group of women and young children met daily outside in Scammon Gardens. Then, as winter approached, the "school" found a home in Lexington Gymnasium, the University's women's gymnasium. The Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago supported the group by providing funds for equipment as well as heat, light and janitor service.
Frances and her cohort provided the teaching, the passion, and the foresight to shape a movement by establishing the first parent cooperative school in the United States.