Frances Willard: a chance encounter

Jim had this old photogravure. Someone was a photograph collector like him. But look closer: a woman sits amid the clutter. Who? I followed up on the only clue: its caption The Den – Rest Cottage.

Long story short, the woman is FRANCES WILLARD (1839-1898), feminist, suffragist, and president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). A charismatic speaker, she was influential in the passage of both the 18th and 19th amendments to the U.S. Constitution — Prohibition and Women’s Suffrage.

This photo was taken in 1889, when she was 50 years old, at her home and headquarters in Evanston, Illinois.

“Do Everything.”

Frances Willard

Aren’t you fascinated by her work space? I suspect she was an adept multi-tasker, surrounded by her open books and piles of paper, as she scribbled away on her clipboard. In the typewriter behind her is another work-in-progress.

I like her messy pigeon holes on the lower right.

Hanging on a hook above the crazy quilt (lower left) is her newspaper, the Union Signal, published by the WCTU.

Looks like her calling her home Rest Cottage was ironic. Her motto was “Do Everything.”

Virtual exhibit: Radical Woman in a Classic Town – Frances Willard of Evanston.

Frances Willard House Museum, Evanston Illinois

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