Willard was the most prominent leader of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), who took over in 1879. Willard broadened the appeal of membership in the WCTU and justified the propriety of women's political involvement through a "feminism of fear," by advocating a new vision for women in society, one that promoted security above rights. Willard emphasized the importance of marital stability and the protection of the middle-class woman's accepted roles of wife and mother over the extension of political rights to women. Concentrating on organizing women at the local level, Willard was highly successful in building the WCTU's membership.
Willard believed in what she called "New Testament Socialism."
- Suzanne M. Marilley, "Frances Willard and the Feminism of Fear." Feminist Studies 1993 19(1): 123-146. 0046-3663
- Where Prayer and Purpose Meet: The WCTU Story, 1874-1949