Frances Willard: The Coloring Book

Coloring books for adults do seem to be a thing. They are touted as being beneficial for relaxation, mindfulness, creativity, and even just fun. Realizing that museums and libraries are a hidden source of wonderful, colorable designs, the New York Academy of Medicine Library has launched the second annual #ColorOurCollections week on social media, inviting museums, libraries, archives, and other institutions to mine their own collections for line drawings that cry out for crayons.

And it suddenly occurred to us that the Willard Archives holds a natural source for colorable designs: the “Sample Book of Illustrations”–also known as the “Stock Cuts” catalogue.

The Woman’s Temperance Publishing Company (WTPA) compiled this catalogue back in 1901 so that WCTUs all over the world could order cardboard printing plates of frequently requested images—people, places, designs, slogans, etc.—to be inserted in local publications and pamphlets. You could choose from many sizes and styles of Frances Willard, Rest Cottage, Lady Henry Somerset’s signature, white ribbon bows, WCTU monograms…as well as generic images of children, cats, flowers, and more. Some of the hundreds of images in the catalogue were too photographic, had too much gray or not enough interesting curlicues for our purposes, but there were many appropriate black-and-white line drawings to fill a respectable coloring book!

And so intrepid Willard Archives volunteer Marie Peeples took on the challenge of selecting ten images from the catalogue, including a variety of subjects, structures, and objects. She scanned and cleaned up the images to make them enticingly colorable, added explanatory text, and formatted them to fit the Color Our Collections template. And voila—the Willard Archives has taken a seat at the coloring table, in the company of over 50 cultural institutions worldwide—a global endeavor, much like the WCTU.

So go ahead—relieve the February blahs in a creative way. Download the coloring book and get out your crayons or colored pencils. And don’t worry about staying inside the lines—Frances wouldn’t.

Color us in at or

Submitted by The Frances Willard Memorial Library and Archives. Contact us at [email protected] 


#ColorOurCollections is a week-long coloring fest on social media organized by libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions around the world. Using materials from their collections, these institutions are sharing free coloring content with the hashtag #ColorOurCollections and inviting their followers to color and get creative with their collections. See more coloring books at