#96: Frances Willard


frances willardFrances Willard is kind of the suffragist time forgot. Her name should be as famous as those of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Anthony, but it's not. She is one of my most favorite old-school feminists, though, if for no other reason than because she looks so damn serious.

Frances was born in New York in 1839. She spent most of her childhood in Wisconsin. She was the eldest of three children, and her father was a schoolteacher and a member of the state legislature.

Frances attended Evanston College for Ladies in Illinois, then went on to teach at Pittsburgh Female College and Genesee Wesleyan Seminary. In 1871, she was appointed president of Northwestern Female College. When Northwestern Female College became part of Northwestern University, she continued to teach there and was Dean of Women. She also wrote for the Chicago Daily Post.

In 1874, Frances helped found the Women’s' Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), an organization to work towards the prohibition of alcohol, which also supported prison reform, the abolition of prostitution, and women's suffrage, all on moral grounds. In 1881, she became the WCTU president, a capacity in which she served until her death. In this position, she traveled and lectured worldwide.

In 1892, Frances founded a magazine, The Union Signal, and she was the editor until her death. She also helped to form the National Council of Women, of which she served as president from 1888 to 1890.

Though her name is not well known, among scholars Frances is credited as being one of the women who was instrumental in the passages of the 18th and eventually the 19th amendments. She died in 1898 in New York.



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