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Our Background

In the fall of 1889, two years after the founding of Nebraska Wesleyan University, seven young women of similar ideals founded the first society of women on the Wesleyan campus. These women - Pauline Winter, Elsie Bromwell, Julia Taskett, Myrtle Applebee, Grace Becker, Grace Aumiller, and Blanche Martin - chose for the name of their society, Willard, in memory of Frances E. Willard, who was a symbol of perfect womanhood. She was President of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and President of Northwestern Ladies College, which later became Northwestern University.

Willard was the only society for women alone. They were socially affiliated with the Theophanians/Everetts (now Zeta Psi), but they were two separate organizations... Willard for the women and Everett for the men.

In the beginning, the Willards did not maintain a house, but they were given the use of the northwest room on the third floor of the Main Building (now Old Main) and were organized as a literary society. Here, for several years, they held their meetings and social gatherings. In 1917, the Willards established their first house in a rented house called the Bichel House; in 1929, they bought their first house.  Groundbreaking ceremonies on the current property were December 5, 1961, and our present home at 5110 Madison Avenue was completed on May 13, 1962.

Willard means many things to many women, but it first means a house whose halls and rooms have rung with laughter and shared many secrets, and whose doors have shut out the rest of the world while problems were met and solved. Willard is the OLDEST and LARGEST local sorority in the United States. Willard is a top sorority that has kept its members united for 134 years.

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