Frances Willard, educator, reformer, and suffragist. Willard was born in 1839 in Churchville, New York. When she was two, her family moved to Oberlin, Ohio for four years. She and her family then moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, where Willard grew up. Although a short portion of her life history, Willard's time spent in Oberlin had no small part in her development. Willard's mother recalled that Frances
"used often to go with me to church where President Finney usually preached. She said his great light eyes, white eyebrows, and vigorous manner were to her like a combination of thunder and lightning; lightning in his look, thunder is his voice. I am sure her impressionable spirit became somewhat firghtened by the thought of Christianity as administered by that great orator, who was very much given to rehearsing in our hearing the pains and penalities of the condemned."
(Frances E. Willard, Glimpses of Fifty Years -- The Autobiography of an American Woman , Chicago: Woman's Temperance Publication Association, 1889. Quoted on page 5.)
Willard was president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Through that organization, Willard was able to further reform in numerous areas, including prisons, schools, and labor reform. She was also the president of the National Council of Women. Both positions carried Willard to lecture podiums around the country, including First Church in Oberlin in 1885. The Oberlin Review reported on June 27, 1885 that
the Oberlin people have had a treat. Last Friday evening the First Church was filled to overflowing to hear Miss Frances Willard, president of the Women's National Temperance Union. We rarely hear a distinguished speaker, one of whom we have heard so much and of whom we expect a great deal, when we are not a little disappointed. But that was not the case in this instance. Her lecture from beginning to end was logical and methodical. Her illustrations were apt and not only always to the point, but often very sharp. But best of all, she could be distinctly heard in the remotest corners of the church. We are now convinced that there is nothing like an Oberlin training.
(Oberlin Review , June 27, 1885, 238)
Willard died in New York in 1898.