Frances Willard House Museum and Archives at the Center for Women’s History and Leadership

The Center for Women’s History and Leadership in Evanston promotes discussion of social reformer Frances Willard’s life (1839-1898) and her work on behalf of women, temperance and human rights. Together, the Frances Willard House Museum and the WCTU Archives benefit a local and global community of visitors and researchers.

The Woman’s Temple (Burnham and Root, 1892), at the corner of Monroe and LaSalle, served as the national headquarters of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union until 1900, when the organization moved to Evanston.Frances Willard is best known for her leadership of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the largest women’s organization in the US in the late nineteenth century. The Willard House Museum, Willard’s home from 1865 until her death in 1898, became a museum in 1900, and is a national landmark. The Archives, located in the WCTU Administration Building directly behind the House Museum, documents the history and worldwide impact of the WCTU through letters, documents, images, serial publications, biographical and subject files, scrapbooks, and artifacts, dating from the 1830s to 1990s. The collections offer a unique resource for scholars of women’s history, suffrage, temperance, social reform, health, education, and social/political movements, in American and transnational contexts. Our researchers include historians, independent writers, History Fair students, college and grad students, and genealogists—local, national, and international.  

Our website provides resources for off-site researchers, including links to bibliographies and research guides, images, blog posts, and digital projects, such as the award-winning “Truth-Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells” and the searchable transcription of Frances Willard’s 50-volume journal.

The WCTU Archives is happy to help researchers of all ages discover and use its resources. The WCTU Archives is open by appointment only. Please email the archivist with research questions or to plan a visit.