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Frances E. Willard

Helen Farnsworth Mears

Given by Illinois in 1905
National Statuary Hall
U.S. Capitol

Frances E. Willard statue

A pioneer in the temperance movement, Frances E. Willard is also remembered for her contributions to higher education. Born on September 28, 1839, on a small farm outside Rochester, New York, she spent her childhood in Oberlin, Ohio, and later in Janesville, Wisconsin, where her father had purchased a large farm. She attended the Female College of Milwaukee for one year and finished her college degree at the Woman's College of Northwestern University. She taught at Genesee Wesleyan Seminary in 1866-1867 before returning to the Evanston College for Women, where she served as president from 1871 to 1874.

Willard gained a reputation as an effective orator and social reformer. She became associated in the evangelist movement with Dwight Moody and was elected president of the National Women's Temperance Union in 1879. Her zeal sustained her fight for prohibition, and she organized the Prohibition Party in 1882. During the same year she was elected president of the National Council of Women. She later founded and served as president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union in 1883.

Frances Willard died on February 18, 1898.

Last Updated: October 10, 2014