"Womanly Liberty" or "Home Protection": Frances Willard and Woman Suffrage

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Frances Willard’s conviction that women should vote engaged her from her youth and throughout her life.  Her work for suffrage spanned the local and national scenes. Although she believed in suffrage as a right, she taught reluctant followers in the WCTU that it was a duty, establishing the idea of the ballot as a necessary tool for the advancement of the organization’s mission.

Meanwhile, Willard also took a leadership role in national women’s movements (such as the National Council of Women) where she could more freely express her beliefs about woman’s right to vote. During her lifetime, Willard bridged the temperance and the suffrage movements, and is recognized today for her influence in both areas of reform.

After Willard's death in 1898, the WCTU continued to work vigorously for suffrage, and in 1920 celebrated two victories with the passage of the 18th and 19th amendments.

This exhibit uses materials from the WCTU Archives to illustrate the development of Willard's thought on women's duties--and rights--and how the WCTU joined the fight for the vote.