National History Day/History Fair 2022

Examples of primary sources available at the WCTU Archives

The Frances Willard House Museum and Archives in Evanston document the life of social reformer Frances Willard (who lived in Evanston most of her life) and the history of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the largest U.S. women’s organization of the 19th century, with a world-wide presence. With a focus on the WCTU’s work for temperance and the prohibition and woman suffrage amendments, the WCTU Archives is a resource for Chicago stories, national and international stories of women’s empowerment, and stories of innovation, change, and conflict.

How Did the Women of the WCTU Use Debate and Diplomacy to Transform the World?

The history of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union shows that debates don’t always involve men, and diplomacy doesn’t always occur in governments. In fact, before women achieved the right to vote in 1920, they relied on debate and diplomacy to effect change. You will find many primary sources in the WCTU Archives to inspire a project based on the theme of Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences –or on another theme you choose.

History Fair/History Day

The WCTU Archives is happy to work with History Day / History Fair researchers, whether you choose the national theme, Debate & Diplomacy in History, or another topic for your project. Here’s what we offer:
Home page of “Truth-Telling” website

Featured Resource: “Truth-Telling”

Our comprehensive digital resource, “Truth-Telling,” uses primary sources to document the conflict between Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells in the 1890s, and shows how their debate took place through newspaper articles and speeches.

Some Topic Ideas for Projects

  • The Diplomatic Skills that Helped Win Prohibition
  • Conflict and Compromise in the WCTU Fight for Woman Suffrage
  • Oratory for Women: Skills for Debate and Public Speaking
  • Should Women Preach?
  • Informational Strategy: Plays, Fairs, Parades
  • Debate and Diplomacy Abroad in the World WCTU: Peace and Arbitration
  • The Power of the Press: Debating Through the Written Word
  • A Place at the Table: The African American Struggle to be Recognized in the WCTU
  • The Power of the Petition: The Home Protection Campaign and the Polyglot Petition
  • Prohibition and Repeal: Success and Failure
  • Alcohol and Drugs Education in the Schools: Scientific Temperance Instruction
  • Achieving Social Change: [prison reform, dress reform, raising the age of consent for sex]

And take a look through our blog posts for even more ideas

Additional Resources for Research

Contact us!

For more information about doing research using our archives, please email us at or fill out the form on our research request page.

We look forward to working with you!

 Frances Willard House Museum and Archives  

1730 Chicago Avenue, Evanston IL