Mary Bannister Willard

Name: Mary Bannister Willard (Bannister)
Birth Date: September 18, 1841
Birth Place: Fairfield, New York
Death Date: July 1912
Death Location: Briarcliff Manor New York, USA


Mary Bannister Willard (1841-1912), sister-in-law of Frances Willard, trained as a school teacher at North Western Female College in Evanston, Illinois. She later served as the editor of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union’s monthly newspaper, The Union Signal, for a number of years. Bannister-Willard later became interested in the kindergarten movement. This movement developed new approaches to educating young children, emphasizing hands-on activities and constructive playtime. Mary Bannister Willard founded one of Evanston’s first kindergartens in 1885 with the motto “Give us the children until they are six years old, and we will risk the rest of their lives.” She later moved to Germany and founded a school for girls.

Father: Henry Bannister
Mother: Lucy Kimball
Children: Four: Robert, Katherine, Mamie (Mary), Frank
Education: North Western Female College, 1859
Years in Evanston: 1857-1863, 1865-1881, 1905-1912

Sources: Archives and Collections: "Something for the Girls: Evanston Women in the Women Movement, 1954 [sic]-1920" Subject Files. Evanston History Center. Evanston Women Pre 1950. Newspaper Clippings. Evanston History Center. Willard Memorial Library and Archives. Secondary Sources: Willard, Frances E. and Mary A. Liyermore, ed. A Woman of the Century: Fourteen Hundred-Seventy Biographical Sketches Accompanied by Portaits of Leading American Women. Buffalo: Charles Wells Moulton, 1893.