Born in 1839 in Rochester, New York, Frances Willard taught school in Evanston, Illinois, then served for three years as President of the Evanston College for Ladies and briefly as Dean of Women at Northwestern University. She quickly resigned the latter position, however, threw herself into the Temperance movement, and in 1874 was elected Secretary of the recently-formed Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).
Found in Hillsboro, Ohio in December 1873, the original mission of the WCTU was at first narrowly focused on spreading a Gospel-inspired Temperance message. After Willard rose to the presidency in 1879, however, her “Do Everything” approach radically expanded the organization’s reach to the far reaches of social reform, addressing issues relating to prisons, labor, prostitution, public health, world peace and, eventually, women’s suffrage.
The WCTU mission and methods resonated, and the organization grew rapidly, from 22,800 members in 1881 to around 150,000 at the time of Willard’s death in 1899. It never lost sight of its original message, however, and in the mid-1890s began to focus on national prohibition, and a quarter century later its efforts were rewarded with the ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1919. The WCTU is still active today, though best as we can tell it now has no more than a few thousand members. I’ve not made a study of the issue, but I assume its decline is a function of the discrediting of abstinence and prohibition as policy goals, the rise of innumerable other evangelical organizations with national reach, and a more permissive national culture.
Map of Memorials of a Famous Woman
In any event this unusual pictorial map was issued in the Summer of 1938, in anticipation of the centenary of Willard’s birth the following year. Though the repeal of Prohibition must have stung terribly, the WCTU still had hundreds of thousands of members and plenty of muscle, and must have been in a mood to celebrate its guiding light. The map depicts the United States in outline, with text and tiny pictorial vignettes identifying the locations of some 263 memorials to Willard, ranging from a chair at the Hillsboro, Ohio Presbyterian Church; to a tree in North Danville, Vermont; to fountains, plaques, schools and streets around the country. The map is flanked by lists of the memorials, grouped alphabetically by state and city or town, nearly thirty of which are featured in pictorial vignettes above and below. At top center is a portrait bust of a youthful Frances Willard. All these images are “bound”, as it were, by ribbons and bows representing a white ribbon, the long-time symbol of the WCTU.
According to one source,
“The map was drawn by Ida Schmid Randall, “artist, architectural draughtsman, and experienced cartographer,” as the Union Signal [the WCTU newspaper] described her (July 23, 1938)….
“According to correspondence in the Centenary files in the Willard Archives, the master map cost $400. The “cut” from which the map was printed was produced by Mr. M. Hermas of Evanston, and the maps were produced by Waverly Fabrics, in New York. A total of 8,800 maps were produced. WCTU unions across the US were encouraged to purchase a supply of the maps to sell or to distribute to local schools and churches during 1939. The maps were advertised in the Union Signal, the WCTU’s national weekly newspaper, starting in mid-1938, and went on sale for the first time at the National WCTU Convention in San Francisco in August, 1938. The Willard Centenary Souvenir maps were priced at $1 each (with discounts for quantity purchases).” (Janet Olson, “Scarf? Handkerchief? Treasure Map! [:] The story of the Willard Centenary Sounvenir Map”, on the web site of the Frances Willard House, Evanston, Illinois.)
Despite the large print run, the map today appears to be quite scarce. In all, a unique and remarkable piece of folk Americana from a vital period in the American Temperance movement.
OCLC #1083000296. Rumsey #11766.
Offered in partnership with Caroliniana Rare Books.