• frances willard slider

    Visionary Leader

    Social Reformer

    Women's Rights Advocate

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5


Susan and Dio: On the Road Again

Two of our favorite items from the Willard Archives are going on the road again—heading for a museum gig in Pittsburgh.

Back in 2012, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia borrowed several artifacts from the Archives to display in its “American Spirits” exhibit, illustrating the 18th amendment (Prohibition). Items loaned included gavels (symbols of the WCTU’s professional meeting standards), leaflets, songbooks—plus an 1873 poster announcing a lecture by Dio Lewis (he inspired the anti-saloon crusades that resulted in the formation of the WCTU) and an 1876 letter from Susan B. Anthony congratulating Frances Willard on “speaking out” in favor of woman suffrage.

Due to popular demand, the “American Spirits” display became a traveling exhibit, installed in 10 venues across the country. The Lewis poster and the Anthony letter were returned to the Archives after a year, to save wear, but they were invited to rejoin the other items for what will be the final installation, at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, from February to June, 2018.

Six years is quite a run! Here’s the hectic schedule our artifacts have led, along with more information about the exhibit. If you’re planning to be in Pittsburgh this spring, stop by the Heinz Center and say hello to Susan and Dio. Or come by the Archives in July to welcome them—and the rest of the loaned items—home at last.


August 15, 2017

On Sunday, August 13, 2017 members of the Frances Willard Historical Association (FWHA) voted to re-incorporate as a new non-profit organization, The Center for Women’s History and Leadership. Accompanying this name change, later this fall the new Center will also become the owner of the property and historic buildings in the current Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) Evanston Local Historic District. The Center’s mission will be to honor the leadership of women of the past to inform the present and inspire leaders of the future.

The Frances Willard House Museum and Willard Memorial Library and WCTU Archives will continue as the focal points at the site, with tours, programs and research services expanding. But this change will allow for greater stewardship, increased capacity, and expanded programming for the entire property. The new nonprofit will receive ownership of the Willard House, the WCTU Administration Building, and the two flanking Victorian residences (located at 1724-1732 Chicago Avenue in Evanston) on November 1, 2017.

Glen Madeja, Executive Director of the FWHA, said, “This is a very exciting time and opportunity for a redefinition of the FWHA into an expanded organization.  We are very honored that the WCTU, as it approaches it’s 150th anniversary, has entrusted us with ensuring the future of its legacy. Members and leaders of both organizations have been working on this project for over two years. Their goals have been to safeguard the future of the property, ensure the legacy of the WCTU, and provide for proper stewardship of the Willard House Museum and the WCTU Archives so that they remain open to the public and available to researchers long into the future.”

Featured Collections Object: The Polyglot Petition

Our new display of the Polyglot Petition.

The polyglot petition is considered the first international effort to stop the trafficking of alcohol and opium. “Polyglot” comes from two Greek words: “poly” meaning many and “glot” meaning languages. The petition has signatures from residents of six continents. We would like to thank the Jim and Annanette Harper Family Foundation for their generous support of this display.

web design by cpe design