Digital Exhibits

We have created a number of digital exhibits to help interpret the histories connected to our site. These exhibits cover a variety of topics, including: Frances Willard, the WCTU, women’s history, race, activism, and temperance.

Our current digital exhibits are described below, with their links:

Truth-Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells.

This is an award-winning community history project that explores the conflict between Frances Willard and African-American activist Ida B. Wells. 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.

The Digitized Journals of Frances Willard

Willard kept journals continuously from the age of 16 to 31, and then from age 54 to 57—50 volumes in all. The original journals are fragile, and Willard’s handwriting is very difficult to decipher. This online resource provides fully searchable access to Willard’s complete, transcribed journals. 

Performing Temperance

Performing Temperance is an online exhibit that features primary sources while exploring the ways temperance advocates used oratory, recitation, and drama to disseminate their reform agenda, educate children, and train temperance workers – especially women – to speak in public.

Influences of a Self-Made Woman: The Early Journals of Frances Willard

Influences of a Self-Made Woman looks at the journals of Frances Willard’s early life in order to better understand her early influences: people, places, and ideas, that fostered her devotion to the woman’s suffrage movement, social activism, and political work. Willard’s journals are available to view online.

From “Teaching the Children” to “Just Say No”: How the WCTU and Scientific Temperance Instruction Influenced Health Education in the Public Schools

With Scientific Temperance Instruction (STI), the WCTU introduced a new phase into its temperance work–adding alcohol education into public school curricula. This exhibit features a small sampling of the materials in the Willard Memorial Library and WCTU Archives that tell the story of STI, the WCTU women who spearheaded the movement, and its continuing influence on health education.

“Womanly Liberty” or “Home Protection”: Frances Willard and Woman Suffrage

Frances Willard’s conviction that women should vote engaged her throughout her life. She taught reluctant followers in the WCTU to see voting as a duty; meanwhile, she took a leadership role in national women’s suffrage organizations which stressed women’s right to vote. This exhibit uses materials from the WCTU Archives to illustrate the development of Willard’s thought on women’s duties and rights–and how the WCTU joined the fight for the vote.

NEW Frances E. Willard: A Biographical Timeline (Beta version)

The timeline incorporates images and documents to illustrate stages in Willard’s life from her childhood to her growing career as an orator, a writer, a leader of women, and a suffragist. Images offer a visual component to the dates and events. Unless otherwise noted, all images come from the Frances Willard House Museum and WCTU Archives. The timeline is based on dates listed in “Let Something Good Be Said: The Speeches of Frances E. Willard” (Carolyn DeSwarte Gifford and Amy R. Slagell, eds., University of Illinois Press, 2007), although some additional dates have been added, and Gifford and Slagell are not responsible for any errors. The timeline was created by Karis Blaker, Loyola University of Chicago, using TimelineJS. A provisional bibliography is available here, and will be expanded later in the final version of the project.