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Woman's Christian Temperance Union of New South Wales (1882 - )

From
1882
Sydney
Occupations
Religious organisation, Lobby group and Woman Suffrage Organisation

Summary

The Sydney Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was founded in 1882, at a meeting hosted by Mr Eli Johnson, a visiting American temperance lecturer. From 1884, other local Unions were started in suburbs of Sydney as well as in country areas of New South Wales. In 1890, a Colonial Union, to be known as the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of New South Wales, was formed to embrace the whole colony. The local Union, however, was to remain as the important unit of power.

The Union is primarily dedicated to promoting total abstinence from alcohol and other harmful drugs and all members sign a pledge to this effect. However, under its broader agenda of 'home protection' and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, and in its belief that the dangers of alcohol could not be tackled in isolation, the group has pursued a very wide-ranging reform agenda mostly relating to the welfare of women and children. Importantly, influenced by its sister organisation in the United States, the Union became a major supporter of the campaign for women's suffrage in Australia as it was believed that power at the ballot box was the only way to achieve their goals. While at its most influential in the years up to WWI, the movement continues today.

Details

Among the first activities of the Sydney Union was to organise petitions against the new Licensing Bill then beofre the Colonial Parliament. They also protested against the employment of women as barmaids in hotels.

From its inception, in addition to prohibition, the Union advocated 'an equal moral standard for men and women', and soon other women's issues were included in its agenda, and it advocated women's suffrage from at least 1890.

In 1965 the WCTU of the Australian Capital Territory was incorporated into the New South Wales Union.

Sources used to compile this entry: Endeavour: Women's organisations in New South Wales, 1896-1978; Pargeter, 'For God, Home and Humanity: National Woman's Christian Temperance Union... .

Related entries

Archival resources

Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales

  • Woman's Christian Temperance Union of New South Wales - records, 1882-1978, 1882 - 1978, MLMSS 3641; Woman's Christian Temperance Union of New South Wales (1882 - ); Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

Jane Carey

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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