Willard’s Journals

Frances Willard kept a journal from the age of 16 to 31, and then from age 54 to 57, filling 50 volumes. The journals, believed lost after Willard's death, were found in the Willard House Museum (Evanston, IL) in the early 1980s and transcribed over the course of nearly eight years by historian Carolyn DeSwarte Gifford. Edited, annotated excerpts appeared in Gifford’s 1995 book, Writing Out My Heart (University of Illinois Press). The original journal volumes are held by the Frances Willard Memorial Library and Archives in Evanston.

 

Digitized Journal Transcriptions

This online resource provides access to Willard’s complete journals for the first time. The original journals are fragile, and Willard’s handwriting is very difficult to decipher. The fully searchable transcription makes Willard’s journal easily accessible to scholars of women’s history, rhetoric, education, and the American progressive era. And this easily legible online resource can be used by a new audience of History Day students, undergrads, and members of the general public.

 

Frances E. Willard

Frances E. Willard (1839-1898) earned a world-wide reputation as a social reformer, most notably for her leadership of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the largest and most powerful woman's organization of its time. During her presidency (1879-1898), Willard built the WCTU into a force for wide-ranging reforms that included woman suffrage, social justice, and world peace.


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