Women and Prohibition: More Than Meets the Eye

By Hannah Overstreet, 2019 Summer Intern This month marks a century since the enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment, better known as Prohibition. For more than thirteen years, the United States banned alcohol, making it illegal to make, transport, or sell “intoxicating liquors” of all kinds. If you live in Chicago and pay any attention to […]

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Parlor Performance in 19th-Century Evanston

By Fiona Maxwell, UChicago Grad Global Impact Intern In November 1871, the Evanston College for Ladies threw open its parlor for a Thanksgiving “sociable.” The College’s President Frances Willard displayed “pains-taking care” in her preparations in order that all of the guests enjoyed “themselves to the fullest extent.” After the formalities of “introduction and conversation,” […]

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The Silent Steed So Swift and Blithesome

In the late nineteenth century, American cities were filled with bicycles. People from all walks of life embraced them, which shaped urban environments. Frances Willard and other reformers promoted bicycles as particularly important for women. Bicycles were instruments of health, freedom, and convenience, which could contribute to equality. Some people doubted  whether women should ride […]

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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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