Newberry Seminar on Religion and Culture in the Americas, March 15, 2019

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Religion and Culture in the Americas Seminar

Sponsors: The Religion and Culture in the Americas Seminar is co-sponsored by Albion College, the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, University of Illinois at Chicago, Valparaiso University and Wheaton College.

Friday, March 15, 2019 / 3:00pm to 5:00pm / Room B-82

The Newberry Library / 60 West Walton Street / Chicago IL 60610


‘You Know of the Difficulty in Which I have been Placed by this Most Unjust Controversy’: Frances E. Willard, Ida B. Wells,

and the Limits of ‘Do Everything’ Reform

Chris Evans, Boston University


This paper reexamines the public feud between Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells. As President of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Willard integrated a distinctive evangelical Protestant worldview into a broad-based model of political progressivism—what she referred to as “Do Everything” reform. However, her public feud with Wells in the 1890s not only accentuates Willard’s tepid response to racism. It provides insight into the interpersonal dynamics of the social movement Willard led. Drawing on archival research from the Frances E. Willard Memorial Library, the paper offers unique perspectives on Willard and the leadership networks in the WCTU that revolved around her.


Respondent: Rima Lunin Schultz, Independent Scholar

Newberry Scholarly Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.

For a copy of the paper, email

Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.