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    Visionary Leader

    Social Reformer

    Women's Rights Advocate

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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


COVID-19 Update

The Frances Willard House Museum and WCTU Archives will be closed for tours and research through May 31. We are also suspending all private group tours and outreach events. Like many other museums and archives in the Chicago area, we are monitoring Illinois and Evanston public health announcements and will adjust our plans according to their recommendations.

Our Race and Rights: Wells, Willard and Addams program scheduled for April 30th has been postponed. Stay tuned for new date in fall 2020.


New Willard House Video

Click here to see a brief video that features the Willard House, interior and exterior. This short film was made by Evanston Photographic Studios and all rights are reserved by them.


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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