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    Visionary Leader

    Social Reformer

    Women's Rights Advocate

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New Views Program from the Willard House –  

Changing the World: Lessons for Today from the Suffragist Playbook

The women’s suffrage movement was decades in the making and came with many harsh setbacks. But it resulted in a permanent victory: women’s right to vote. How did the suffragists do it? 

A new book – The Suffragist Playbook: Your Guide to Changing the World – highlights the strategies of the suffrage movement and the lessons we can learn from it for making change today. It also includes the forgotten story of the important role Frances Willard and the WCTU played in developing the strategies and promoting the cause of woman’s suffrage. Targeted to a young adult audience, the book provides tips and tactics for young (and young at heart) activists in-the-making today.

Join the Frances Willard House Museum on Sunday, January 31st at 4 pm for an online conversation with authors Lucinda Robb and Rebecca Boggs Roberts, whose friendship goes back generations (to their grandmothers, Lady Bird Johnson and Lindy Boggs, and their mothers, Lynda Robb and Cokie Roberts). Changing the World: Lessons for Today from the Suffragist Playbook is a free program but advanced registration is required (register here).

We will discuss how women like Willard came to the suffrage movement, different ideas of the way to make change, why some women reformers played the long game and others demanded immediate reforms, and much more from their thought-provoking and inspiring book.

This program is part of the ongoing Views program series at the Frances Willard House Museum and WCTU Archives that explores topics related to the story of Frances Willard and the work of the WCTU, and highlights new research and writing in women’s history.

Influences of a Self-Made Woman – featuring the early journals of Frances Willard

Our newest online exhibit by CWHL summer 2020 remote intern Hannah Lahti provides the foundational story for Willard’s groundbreaking work as a social reformer through examining her early influences as revealed in her journals. Visit – https://franceswillardhouse.omeka.net/exhibits to see the new exhibit and explore more.


Suffrage Sunday Videos!

This past August, the Willard House and WCTU Archives released a series of short videos on our YouTube Channel (link below) featuring different collections items related to the fight for women’s suffrage in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. “Suffrage Sundays” videos provide a glimpse into the ways that the suffrage and temperance movements were connected areas of women’s leadership.


COVID-19 Update

The Frances Willard House Museum and WCTU Archives will be closed for tours and onsite programs for the foreseeable future. Our programs are taking place online – sign up for our email newsletter or follow us on social media to stay in touch.

The WCTU Archives is open by appointment. Visit this page for details on doing research at this time.


Statement on Systemic Racism and our Work

We at the Frances Willard House Museum and WCTU Archives at the Center for Women’s History and Leadership join the many eloquent and powerful voices who have expressed outrage, sadness and resolve at this time of crisis and awakening. The loss of life due to systemic racism in our country is hard to witness and even harder to understand.

As historians we are committed to be a part of the solution and tell the stories that lead to understanding. We are committed to do truth-telling and to work hard to do what so many leaders, like Ida B. Wells, have called all of us to do:

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”

It is a long, difficult process requiring thoughtful and deep analysis by each of us as individuals and as an organization. We commit to Do Everything we can to see that the difficult work of taking on systemic racism takes place and that lasting change, both in our organization and in our community, happens.

Visit one project that marks the beginning of our work – www.willardandwells.org. Stay tuned as we further develop plans for this work in the future.

Lori Osborne, CWHL Executive Director on behalf of the CWHL Board, Museum and Archives Council and Staff


Truth Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells

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An Award Winning Community History Project of the Frances Willard House Museum and Archives

In the 1890s, Woman’s Christian Temperance Union President Frances Willard and journalist and activist Ida B. Wells fought a war of words in the international press over Willard’s lack of public support for Wells’ anti-lynching campaign. Wells called Willard’s moral leadership into question and demanded that Willard and the WCTU join her anti-lynching campaign. Under Willard’s leadership, the WCTU eventually passed resolutions opposing lynching, but Willard’s language and actions complicate her legacy.

Truth Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells is a community history project that explores this conflict. The project includes a digital exhibit of original archival sources, community conversations, and public programs. The goal of the project is to uncover the full truth of the conflict, and explore its many meanings and ramifications for our world today. 

To visit the website, click here.

In 2020, the Truth Telling project received Honorable Mention for Outstanding Public History Project from the National Council on Public History. To view the online award ceremony video click below.

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