Educated Women – Part One

By Lori Osborne, Frances Willard House Museum Director 150 years ago, Evanston was at the center of an experiment in education that would define it for generations. Though Northwestern University is the best known today, it was two small women’s colleges that established Evanston as “a paradise for women.[i]” As we start the school year … Read more

Knowledge is Power: Frances Willard’s Early Education

By Fiona MaxwellDirector of Museum Operations and Communications, Frances Willard House MuseumHistory PhD candidate, University of Chicago In recognition of the 150th anniversary of Frances Willard’s role as President of the Evanston College for Ladies (1871-1873) and Dean of Women at Northwestern University (1873-1874), the Frances Willard House Museum and WCTU Archives is exploring the history … Read more

“The Inspiration of a Lifetime”: Mary Thompson Hill Willard

By Fiona MaxwellDirector of Museum Operations and Communications, Frances Willard House MuseumHistory PhD candidate, University of Chicago “If I have any special gift as a public worker, it is one I learned from my mother, that of developing the talents of others through warm appreciation and practical encouragement.”–Frances Willard Though known today as the Frances … Read more

“Look Up and Off, and On and Out”: Frances Willard and Women’s Oratory

By Fiona Maxwell, Director of Museum Operations and Communications; PhD candidate in History at the University of Chicago “Look up and off, and on and out; it is the curse of life that nearly everyone looks down.”  – Frances Willard By 1874, Frances Willard had acquired a local reputation as a public speaker. Yet, when … Read more

Home at Last

Wide-ranging travel has always been part of the WCTU’s history (think of Frances Willard’s speaking tours, and of the WCTU organizers who collected 7.5 million signatures on the Polyglot Petition in the 1880s). Imagine the warm welcome those women received when they got back home to Evanston! These thoughts came to mind on July 26 … Read more

What We Mean When We Say Feminism

There has been a lot of debate and discussion about the meaning of the word feminism in recent years. Women today take various stands for or against it – and generally its true meaning is lost in the fray. Feminism is a loaded word in our culture with some wearing the term proudly and others … Read more

Frances Willard and the Armenian Crisis: Refugees and Activism

In 1896, Frances Willard was visiting her friend Lady Somerset when she heard about a refugee crisis in Marseilles, France. The crisis had begun in 1894 when massacres of Christian Armenians broke out across the Ottoman Empire and continued for the next several years as the Empire sought to repress the Armenian population. This was … Read more

Agitate, Educate, Organize: Women’s Advocacy

Following the 2016 Presidential Election, there was a call to action for women, inspired by the historic first female presidential candidate, to get involved in politics and fight for policies that would be best for women and their communities. This uniting of women (and men) with such fervor for politics and policy seemed unprecedented, but … Read more

Frances Willard: The Coloring Book

Coloring books for adults do seem to be a thing. They are touted as being beneficial for relaxation, mindfulness, creativity, and even just fun. Realizing that museums and libraries are a hidden source of wonderful, colorable designs, the New York Academy of Medicine Library has launched the second annual #ColorOurCollections week on social media, inviting museums, … Read more