The Library and Archives offers a unique collection for scholars of women’s history, temperance, rhetoric, social reform, and social/political movements, in American and transnational contexts. The collection is also used by independent writers, K-12 students, undergraduate and graduate students, and genealogists. The Library & Archives has been cited in innumerable monographs, articles, dissertations, and films, including the Ken Burns documentary PROHIBITION.
The Center for Women’s History and Leadership‘s mission includes advancing research and education through the rich body of material relating to Frances Willard and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union held in the Frances E. Willard Memorial Library and WCTU Archives.
The Frances E. Willard Memorial Library and WCTU Archives is located in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union Administration Building, directly behind the Frances Willard House Museum. The Library, a two-story addition to the 1922 Administration Building, opened in 1940 to provide reference sources to help WCTU staff produce reports, educational materials, and publications. Gradually the library collection began to incorporate archival materials documenting the history of the national and international WCTU. Click the link above for more information.
The holdings of the Frances E. Willard Memorial Library and WCTU Archives document the history and impact of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Materials include letters; documents; images; serial publications; biographical and subject files; and scrapbooks, dating between the 1830s and 1990s, with the bulk of the collection dating between 1870 and 1950. The focal point of the collection is the material relating to Frances Willard’s life and work, including her papers, journals, and scrapbooks.
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 access to Willard’s complete, transcribed journals for the first time. The fully searchable transcription makes Willard’s journal easily accessible to scholars of women’s history, rhetoric, education, and the American progressive era. And this easily legible online resource can be used by a new audience of History Day students, undergrads, and members of the general public.
National History Day is a learning journey that teaches students critical thinking, writing and research skills and boosts performance across all subjects – not just history. To facilitate this, NHD provides a framework and curriculum materials for teachers and guidance for students.
We are happy to open our archives to History Day researchers.
The Library and Archives is happy to have researchers of all ages come and work with our resources. Please contact our archivist for an appointment using the form on the Research Request page.
Building on the success of our digital project, Truth-Telling, which examines in depth the conflict between Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells, the Frances Willard House Museum and Archives has recently begun a new project, “Black Women of the WCTU: A Research Database,” to document the lives and work of the many Black women who have been involved in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Click on the title link for a project description and a report on current work. The page will include more reports and documents as the long-term project proceeds.