Willard, Frances - Timeline Biography
09-28-1839 - 02-17-1898
Frances Willard was a prominent social activist in the 19th century. She became involved in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in 1874 when she began preaching at daily temperance meeting in Chicago. She gained prominence when she became secretary of the WCTU that year and later president in 1879, a position she held until her death in 1898. Through her role with the WCTU, she was able to promote a number of social reforms, including temperance, women’s suffrage, labor reform and home-centered family life. Although the WCTU allied with various churches, it was non-denominational and female-controlled. Some claim her "genius" derived from her ability to appeal to conservative notions of women’s domestic role while also espousing social reforms and the political role of women. In her later life, she promoted Christian socialism, making her a forerunner of the Social Gospel Movement.
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Religious GroupsMethodist/Pietist Family: Other ARDA Links
Methodist/Pietist Family: Religious Family Tree
EventsWoman's Christian Temperance Union
Related Dictionary TermsChristianity, Temperance Movement
Frances Willard portrait- Library of Congress, LC-USZ61-790
Frances Willard portrait- Internet Archive- from The Life of Frances E. Willard by Anna Adams Gordon
Frances Willard bicycle- Internet Archive- from A Wheel within a Wheel by Frances E. Willard
Frances Willard portrait- National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the National Women's Christian Temperance Union
Frances Willard statue- Architect of the Captiol, National Statuary Hall Collection
Book/Journal Source(s)Reid, Daniel, Robert Linder, Bruce Shelley, and Harry Stout, 1990. Dictionary of Christianity in America Downers Grove, IL.
Queen, Edward, Stephen Prothero and Gardiner Shattuck, 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History New York: Facts on File.
Web Page ContributorBenjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology