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    Visionary Leader

    Social Reformer

    Women's Rights Advocate

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Women’s History is Everywhere and Essential!

This year we are thinking about the places where women’s history happened, why it is so important to preserve them, and how easily they can be lost and forgotten. Visit our blog for posts about the Woman’s Temple, the Phyllis Wheatley Home and the Alpha Suffrage Club. These stories come to us from the city of Chicago and remind us just how challenging this work of preserving women’s history is. They also serve as cautionary tales for working hard to preserve what remains. 

Your gift to support our work to tell these stories from this most historic place is critical in these challenging times. Thank you!

Influences of a Self-Made Woman – featuring the early journals of Frances Willard

Our newest online exhibit by CWHL intern Hannah Lahti provides the foundational story for Willard’s groundbreaking work as a social reformer through examining her early influences as revealed in her journals. Visit – https://franceswillardhouse.omeka.net/exhibits to explore more.

COVID-19 Update

The Frances Willard House Museum remains closed while we develop our reopening plans for summer 2021. Our programs are taking place online – sign up for our email newsletter or follow us on social media to stay in touch.

The WCTU Archives is open by appointment only. Visit this page for details on doing research at this time.

Message regarding race and our work – June 2020

We at the Frances Willard House Museum and WCTU Archives at the Center for Women’s History and Leadership join the many eloquent and powerful voices who have expressed outrage, sadness and resolve at this time of crisis and awakening. The loss of life due to systemic racism in our country is hard to witness and even harder to understand. As historians we are committed to be a part of the solution and tell the stories that lead to understanding. We are committed to truth-telling and to work hard to do what so many leaders, like Ida B. Wells, have called all of us to do:

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”

It is a long, difficult process requiring thoughtful and deep analysis by each of us as individuals and as an organization. We commit to “Do Everything” we can to see that the difficult work of taking on systemic racism takes place and that lasting change, both in our organization and in our community, happens. Visit one project that marks the beginning of our work – www.willardandwells.org. Stay tuned as we further develop plans for this work in the future.

CWHL Staff and Board

Truth Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells

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An Award Winning 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.

Truth Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells is 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 website, click here.

In 2020, the Truth Telling project received Honorable Mention for Outstanding Public History Project from the National Council on Public History. To view the online award ceremony video click below.

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