Arriving at the WCTU Admin Building (now Willard Archives), Evanston

Home at Last

Wide-ranging travel has always been part of the WCTU’s history (think of Frances Willard’s speaking tours, and of the WCTU organizers who collected 7.5 million signatures on the Polyglot Petition in the 1880s). Imagine the warm welcome those women received when they got back home to Evanston! These thoughts came to mind on July 26 […]

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How does Willard and the WCTU fit into our modern idea of feminism?

What We Mean When We Say Feminism

There has been a lot of debate and discussion about the meaning of the word feminism in recent years. Women today take various stands for or against it – and generally its true meaning is lost in the fray. Feminism is a loaded word in our culture with some wearing the term proudly and others […]

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Image courtesy of Sacha Chua via Flickr

Willard’s Will: Self Care Before It Was Trendy

It’s that time of the year when everyone is concerned with “self-care.” Whether it be mindful meditation, healthy eating, or hiking – self-care is no longer the stuff of new age folklore. Inherently, the definition of self-care is fluid, what works for one might not work for another. My father, bless his soul, picked up […]

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Dress Reform Image 2

“Dear me! How stupid the fashionable world is!”: Frances Willard and Dress Reform

  In Frances Willard’s book, How to Win: A Book for Girls, she quoted an article from a “trustworthy New York authority” that she particularly enjoyed. The article stated, “Don’t try to reason logically about fashion, nearly all the fashion which have become popular in civilized countries have simply been the result of an accident.” […]

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WWI Red Cross vehicle donated by WCTU001

The WCTU and WWI

“A Century of Remembering: The Great War” is the theme of Illinois Archives Month (October) 2017. World War I affected every aspect of American society, and is documented in many different ways in archival repositories across the state.  The Frances Willard Memorial Library and Archives offers this brief overview of the role played by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. […]

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Frances Willard, 1894 giving a speech in England

From Educator to Activist: Frances Willard and Education for Girls

As a teacher, Willard pushed for her students to find a career after graduating, and in 1871, Willard became president of Evanston’s College for Ladies, where she continued to promote self-governance for her pupils. Evanston College for Ladies was absorbed by Northwestern following the Chicago fire, and at Northwestern,  Frances Willard became the first Dean […]

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Agitate Image

Agitate, Educate, Organize: Women’s Advocacy

Following the 2016 Presidential Election, there was a call to action for women, inspired by the historic first female presidential candidate, to get involved in politics and fight for policies that would be best for women and their communities. This uniting of women (and men) with such fervor for politics and policy seemed unprecedented, but […]

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