Educated Women – Part One

By Lori Osborne, Frances Willard House Museum Director 150 years ago, Evanston was at the center of an experiment in education that would define it for generations. Though Northwestern University is the best known today, it was two small women’s colleges that established Evanston as “a paradise for women.[i]” As we start the school year … Read more

Knowledge is Power: Frances Willard’s Early Education

By Fiona MaxwellDirector of Museum Operations and Communications, Frances Willard House MuseumHistory PhD candidate, University of Chicago In recognition of the 150th anniversary of Frances Willard’s role as President of the Evanston College for Ladies (1871-1873) and Dean of Women at Northwestern University (1873-1874), the Frances Willard House Museum and WCTU Archives is exploring the history … Read more

Anna Adams Gordon

In honor of International Museum Week 2022 we are highlighting the story of Anna Adams Gordon who was an influential figure in the WCTU’s history for more than 50 years. In addition to her work as Frances Willard’s personal secretary, she was the creator of the first museum at the house and brought the organization’s … Read more

Becoming the “Frances Willard of China”: The Life of Liu-Wang Liming

By Janet Olson, Archivist Feminist, social reformer, writer, and WCTU leader Liu-Wang Liming (1898-1970) was born and raised in rural China. As a child, with her father’s support, she resisted the sexist custom of foot-binding. She attended an American mission school for girls many miles from her home. Upon graduation in 1916, she came to … Read more

The WCTU Administration Building is 100 Years Old!

One hundred years ago today, May 20, 1922, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union Administration Building opened, signaling a full and final shift of the organization’s headquarters to Evanston. Located directly behind the Willard House at 1730 Chicago Avenue, this significant building hides in plain sight. Though no longer functioning as the WCTU’s national headquarters building, … Read more

“The Inspiration of a Lifetime”: Mary Thompson Hill Willard

By Fiona MaxwellDirector of Museum Operations and Communications, Frances Willard House MuseumHistory PhD candidate, University of Chicago “If I have any special gift as a public worker, it is one I learned from my mother, that of developing the talents of others through warm appreciation and practical encouragement.”–Frances Willard Though known today as the Frances … Read more

Holiday Week at Rest Cottage

“How strange it seems with so much gone Of life and love, to still live on.” Eighty-three Christmases have come to mother, and forty-eight to me. We have sped along the mile posts of years beyond our nearest comrades and are still here, but “They recon not by months and years Where these have gone … Read more

Letting the Records Speak: An Intern’s Experience in the WCTU Archives

By Amelia Perkins, Philosophy PhD student, Northwestern University I spent this summer as an intern at the Frances Willard House Museum and WCTU Archives, through Northwestern’s Chicago Humanities Initiative, a program which matches graduate students with Chicago-area organizations seeking summer interns. I applied to CHI with the vague idea that it would be good to get … Read more

Making History in Southern California: The Women of the WCTU

By Kristin Jacobsen, Assistant Archivist, Frances Willard House Museum and WCTU Archives Men may have dominated the California Gold Rush in the mid-nineteenth century, but the women of the state were energized by a longer-lasting undertaking – the temperance movement. A newly available collection of historical records tells the story of some of these women, the … Read more