News & Events

Upcoming Events

Kick off the Summer at the Willard House with Bike Day!
Back when bicycling was a radical act for women, Frances Willard helped lead the way to equality on top of her beloved bicycle Gladys. Come join the Frances Willard House in celebrating her pioneering spirit with a day centered on the historical importance and joy of riding bicycles!

Bike Day will take place on Sunday, May 26th from 1-4 pm. Visitors can enjoy a new spin on Evanston’s history with activities for the whole family that will include crafts for kids, bike-themed tours, and photos with Gladys, Willard’s beloved bicycle. The event is $10 per person ($5 for students).


2019 Tour Women’s History Map 
Stop by on Bike Day May 26th or when we are open for tours and purchase copies of the 2019 Evanston Women’s History Map for $5. The theme of this year’s map is She Creates and features the homes of women writers, artists, photographers and musicians. Pick up your copy and head out to walk, ride or drive Evanston women’s history.

Stop by for a Tour on Thursdays and Sundays!

Starting Thursday June 6th the Willard House will be open for tours on Thursdays and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. Admission is $10, students $5, and children under 6 are free. FWHM members receive free tour entry! Special and group tours are available at other times upon request. We also offer tours designed for school groups and youth organizations. for info.

Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells

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A Community History Project of the Frances Willard House Museum and Archives

In the 1890s, Woman’s Christian Temperance Union President Frances Willard and journalist and activist Ida B. Wells fought a war of words in the international press over Willard’s lack of public support for Wells’ anti-lynching campaign. Wells called Willard’s moral leadership into question and demanded that Willard and the WCTU join her anti-lynching campaign. Under Willard’s leadership, the WCTU eventually passed resolutions opposing lynching, but Willard’s language and actions complicate her legacy.

Until now, this story has never before been told at the museum and archives dedicated to honoring Willard’s life and leadership.

On Thursday March 14, 2019 the Frances Willard House Museum and Archives launched Truth Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells, a community history project that explores this conflict. 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.

To visit the new website, please click here.


 EVANSTON, IL – On Friday, February 1, 2019, a project was kicked off by the Center for Women’s History and Leadership (CWHL) to upgrade the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union’s (WCTU) Administration Building. Working with the Evanston architecture firm of McGuire Igleski & Associates, the project will focus on improvements for the safety and comfort of the staff and users of the Frances Willard Memorial Library and Archives and other areas of the building. The project is being funded in part by grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and from Landmarks Illinois.

The WCTU Administration Building, located at the back of 1730 Chicago Avenue in the WCTU Local Historic District in Evanston, was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. In 1910, the WCTU built the new Publications Building behind the Willard House to accommodate their publishing business. In 1922 the building was expanded to include offices for the WCTU headquarters and became the WCTU Administration Building. Both the original building and the addition were designed by noted architect Charles Ayars. In 1939, the centenary of Willard’s birth, Earl Reed, known for his skill as an architect of libraries, designed the addition to the building which was named the Frances Willard Memorial Library for Alcohol Research. Today, it houses the archives of Frances Willard, the WCTU, and related materials.

Glen Madeja, Executive Director of the CWHL, said, “This is a great step forward as part of our mission to safeguard the future of the property and ensure the legacy of the WCTU.  This and other activities recently completed and currently planned provide for the proper stewardship of the Frances Willard House Museum and the Frances Willard Memorial Library and Archives so that they remain open to the public and available to researchers long into the future.”

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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