News & Events

Upcoming Events

A Simple Christmas: Willard House in 1887 Holiday Tours

FWHM will offer special holiday tours Sundays in December. Take a break from the busy holiday season and join us as we turn back the clock and revisit Christmas at the Willard House in 1887. At that time the house served as home to Willard and her mother, and as office space and a dormitory for women working in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Christmas day was an opportunity for the bustling household to take a break from work and enjoy a simple holiday celebration.

The tours will take place on Sundays, December 2, 9 and 16, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. and cost $10 for adults and $5 for students (FWHM members are free for all tours and programs). No RSVP necessary, just drop on by.

Views Talk: New Works in Women’s History
Saturday, November 10th at 2:00 p.m.

Historian Sara Egge will be talking about her new book, Woman Suffrage and Citizenship in the Midwest, 1870-1920 (Iowa and the Midwest Experience). In her book, Egge offers critical insights into the woman suffrage movement by exploring how it emerged in small Midwestern communities and offers a new approach that uncovers the sophisticated ways Midwestern suffragists understood citizenship as obligation.

The event costs $10 to attend (free if you’re an FWHM member). RSVPs are encouraged, and can be emailed to

If you would like to purchase Dr. Egge’s book before the talk, follow this link to the publisher’s website for a 40% discount!

Tour Evanston Women’s History Map

FWHM, in partnership with the Evanston Women’s History Project and Shorefront Legacy Center, is proud to announce the first annual Tour Evanston Women’s History Map. The 2018 map highlights fifteen women’s history sites throughout Evanston around the theme, She Persisted. It provides a fun, informative and relevant summer activity as a self-guided walking, biking, and driving tour, with brief information about fifteen amazing Evanston women.

Lori Osborne, director of FWHM and the Women’s History Project says: “We are excited to bring this new way to experience Evanston women’s history to the community. It combines two of our favorite things: healthy activity and women’s history!”

Designed by local illustrator Caroline Brown, the map costs $10 and is available for purchase at the Frances Willard House and the Evanston History Center (EHC). It is available for purchase throughout the summer when these locations are open (Willard House – Thursdays and Sundays 1-4 p.m.; EHC – Thursdays-Sundays 1-4 p.m.). Additional locations to be announced.

Sponsorship of the map comes from Emile Hogan Broker @PropertiesThe Wellness Revolution, and The Printed Word.



Past Events

Despite gloomy weather, we had an engaged crowd for our annual, “Do Everything” event on September 30th. Our keynote speaker, Candance Chow, District 65 School Board member, gave a thought-provoking and encouraging talk about her leadership journey. Afterwards folks enjoyed a final showing of Visiting Artist’s, Vanessa Filley’s, photography display.

In August we partnered with the Evanston Library and hosted the participants of their program, “Girls Be Heard” which sought to empower girls to use their voices to speak up for themselves and on issues they feel are important. A little later in the month we had our own special kid-focused, family friendly tours. At the end of the month our Artist in Residence, Vanessa Filley, led a well-attended talk discussing her exhibition and creative process.

We started off a busy June with a series of stellar events. On June 2nd our inaugural Artist in Residence, Vanessa Filley, held an open studio session as part of Evanston Made. Filley, a fine art photographer whose work focuses on the perseverance of women organizing throughout history, will be on display at the Willard House throughout the summer.

June’s Views program with Margaret Liu

On June 3rd author Margaret Liu Waihan shared the story of her grandmother, Frances Willard Liu-Wang Liming. Inspired by Waihan’s research in the Willard Archives, the talk was called, Evanston and the Making of China’s First Professional Feminist. 


On June 10th Janet Steidl, the Interior Restoration Consultant and Project Manager for our award-winning restoration of three rooms in 2016 led a special, behind-the-scenes tour. She walked attendees through the rooms unpacking the detective work, research, and decision making that went into restoring the dining room, parlor, and front office.

May 20th we hosted a workshop on erasure poetry led by Alison Thumel, as part of the Evanston Literary Festival. Participants were led through activities that challenged them to consider how erasing words from their work could transform their poetry.

Participants of the Evanston Literary Festival workshop in May

This April we hosted one of Evanston Public Library’s book discussions on Claudia Rankine’s new book, “Citizen.” We shared thought-provoking conversation with community members on this bold look at racism in America.

In March we partnered with the Evanston History Center to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th with a breakfast and talk highlighting the work of Evanston women leaders in the morning, and then joined the YWCA Evanston/NorthShore for a film showing and discussion in the evening. The following Sunday we offered special house tours focusing on the WCTU’s historic work against sex trafficking worldwide.

We kicked off 2018 with Cabin-Fever kids tours in January.  Families came and enjoyed 30 minute, interactive tours followed by craft time. It was a fun way to end the holiday break!

In December we commemorated the Christmas season with two holiday tours.  Both tours were fun, intimate gatherings where we turned back the clock with visitors and learned about Christmas at the Willard House in 1887 and remembered it as a time for taking a break from the regular hustle and bustle.

We reached max. capacity with 30+ attendees for our first lecture in the new Views programming series on Sunday, November 5th.  Author Joan Marie Johnson discussed her new book, Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy, and the Women’s Movement, 1870-1967 to a sold out crowd at the Willard House.  She talked about why wealthy women gave to the woman suffrage and temperance movements, and the impact their donations had securing political equality for women.  She unpacked the deep historical roots of the tensions over wealth, power, and unity that persist today.  After the lecture there were great questions and lively discussion during the Q&A.


On September 24th we had 150 people turn out for our “Do Everything – Share Your Story” event.  Attendees heard an inspiring talk from speaker Jan Schakowsky on becoming a leader for the causes, and then enjoyed an introduction to the StoryCorps app, an open house walk-through, cake and refreshments, and photo ops with a life-size Frances Willard cut-out.  With beautiful weather, it was a wonderful day!

Current Exhibits

“Cultivating Character:  The Early Life of Frances E. Willard”IMG_0836

Frances E. Willard (1839-1898) is known today for her work as the charismatic president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union from 1879 to 1898. But what made her the best-known woman in America at the time of her death in 1898? What forces shaped her?

This exhibit explores how Frances E. Willard’s family, education—both what she received as a student and imparted as a teacher—and religion helped to form the woman who became America’s leading female social reformer of the 1880s and 1890s.




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