Skip to Content

Eliza McMillan Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: WUA-03-wua00483

The Eliza McMillan Collection consists of six diaries detailing McMillan’s personal life from 1862-1902, as well as a memorial program for her husband, William, and documents relating to her estate after her death in 1915.

Scans of collection material are available. Please contact University Archives for access


  • 1862-1925


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


2 linear feet

2 boxes

Biographical Information

Eliza Northrup McMillan was born on June 23, 1845 in Aylmer, Ontario, Canada. The daughter of daughter of George and Mary (McConnell) Northrup, Eliza married William McMillan in 1863. In 1867, the McMillans left Canada for Detroit, Michigan where William opened the wholesale hardware store of William McMillan and Co.

In April 1870, they moved to St. Louis, Missouri where William established the Missouri Car and Foundry Co. This later merged with the American Car and Foundry Co. The McMillans resided at 25 Portland Place in a home designed by Eames and Young.

The McMillan's had three children, Mary, Percy, and William Northrup.  William Northrup McMillan was born in 1872. He became a hunter and explorer who lived his later years in Nairobi, Kenya. While in Africa, he became a British citizen and awarded the honor of Knighthood for his services to the British Empire and to East Africa.

The McMillans gave $100,000 to Mary Institute, a college preparatory school formerly run by Washington University, to move out of its old, rundown building and into a new building. After her husband’s death in 1901, Eliza continued to give generously to the poor and unfortunate. In addition to various smaller donations to programs, such as the Washington University Art Department Fund, she gave $300,000 to establish McMillan Hall for women students as memorial to her husband. McMillan Hall was the first visible and substantial acknowledgement by the university of women's presence on the new campus. Eliza became an honorary member of the Woman’s Club of Washington University in 1911. She also purchased the Phillips School, presented it to the St. Louis Academy of Science, and donated $100,000 to Mary Institute for new buildings.

In December 1914, Eliza traveled to Pasadena, California with the hope of improving her declining health where she died on January 16, 1915. She is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery. When she died, among those included in her will were friends and family, as well as her household staff, to whom she gave “lifetime” salaries. She also bequeathed Washington University funds for an eye, ear, nose, and throat hospital for the medical school, also to be named for her husband. In 1925, the funds from the bequest became available and by 1929, the gift was valued at $1,200,000. For a number of years it was the tallest building in the growing medical school complex.

Note written by Sarah Schnuriger

Method of Acquisition

Accession number WUA2018-010. Gift of Margaret Dobrzensky, April 27, 2018.

Accession number WUA2018-031. Gift of Lynn Gainer, September 4, 2018.

Digitized Materials

Scans of collection material are available. Please contact University Archives for access

Processing Information

Processed by Sarah Schnuriger in February 2019.

Eliza McMillan Collection
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020 September 3: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the University Archives Collecting Area

Sonya Rooney
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495