The Scientific Temperance Federation

The Scientific Temperance Federation was created in 1906 upon the death of Mary Hunt, head of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union's Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction in Schools and Colleges.

Legal arrangements that Mary Hunt had made to conceal the income from her "voluntary" temperance work clouded ownership of her estate. This led to the creation of the Scientific Temperance Foundation. Mary Hunt's personal secretary, Cora Stoddard, headed the new organization.

Because of the substantial fortune Mary Hunt had amassed as a result of her control over the approval of which temperance education textbooks were acceptable for purchase by school districts throughout the U.S., the resulting large endowment of the Scientific Temperance Federation enabled it to engage in a wide variety of activities to promote the temperance movement and prohibition.

The Scientific Temperance Federation achieved significant success with the development of a set of stereopticon or three-dimensional visual images on the effects of alcohol at an exhibit on Alcohol and Public Health presented at the International Congress in Hygiene and Demography held in Washington, D.C. in 1912.

A major nation-wide project of the Scientific Temperance Federation was the implementation of an innovative "Education on Wheels" project that took temperance education directly to people at their homes and farms.

The delivery system for Education of Wheels consisted of "A light express wagon. Twenty Scientific Temperance and home-made posters: Talking machine. Italian, Swedish, Polish and English talking machine records. Various dramatic representations of SCIENTIFIC temperance facts in the form of entertaining models, etc., a good supply of scientific temperance and no-license literature and buttons for children"(emphasis in original). One member of the Scientific Temperance Federation explained that "We drove into fields, stopped in the middle of roads, backed into farm yards, up to back doors, sick-room windows - anywhere, where folks tried to dodge us" (Brown, 1914).

The Education on Wheels project appears to have been very successful in reaching people with the message of temperance. However, the decline of temperance sentiment, the repeal of Prohibition, and the stock market crash of 1929 adversely effected the Scientific Temperance Federation, leading to its joining with the Temperance Education Foundation in 1933. However, it maintained its separate identity and published temperance materials until at least 1968.

The efforts of the Scientific Temperance Federation were not entirely in vain. Many people and organizations today support neo-prohibition ideas and strongly support the many vestiges of Prohibition that still continue to exist.

References and Resources on the Scientific Temperance Federation:

  • Berk, Leah Rae. Temperance and Prohibition era propaganda: a study in rhetoric. Brown University Library.
  • Brown, F.K. Education. "Education on Wheels" with a Foreword by Cora Frances Stoddard of the Scientific Temperance Federation. Westerville, OH: American Issue Publishing Company, 1914. Pamphlet based on an article published in the Scientific Temperance Journal in May of 1914.
  • Crothers, T.D. The Scientific Temperance Federation - a new movement. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1907, XLIX(2), 157-158.
  • Hanson, David J. Alcohol Education. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996.
  • The New York (City) Public Library holds records of the Scientific Temperance Federation including both letters and printed materials. There is no restriction on public access to these materials.
  • Science and education applied to the alcohol question. Report of the Secretary of the Scientific Temperance Federation. Reprinted from The Journal of inebriety, Spring, 1908. Boston, MA: Scientific Temperance Federation, 1908.
  • Scientific Temperance Federation. Westerville (Ohio) Public Library. Papers of the Anti-Saloon League.
  • Scientific Temperance Federation. The effect of beer or wine on school children; also, A physician's opinion of beer drinking. Boston, MA: Scientific Temperance Federation, 1935.
  • A sample issue of the Scientific Temperance Journal (August, 1921) published by the Scientific Temperance Federation and the Temperance Education Foundation can be viewed on Google Books.
  • Shall We Save Beer and Wine? Prepared by the Scientific Temperance Federation for the International Reform Bureau. Washington, International Reform Bureau, 191-. Although supposedly scientific, the Scientific Temperance federation failed to recognize the alcohol equivalence of alcoholic beverages. That is, standard drinks of beer, wine and distilled spirits all contain an equivalent amount of alcohol. A standard alcoholic drink is:
    • A 12-ounce can or bottle of regular beer
    • A 5-ounce glass of dinner wine
    • A shot (one and one-half ounces) of 80 proof liquor or spirits such as vodka, tequila, or rum either straight or in a mixed drink.
    Standard drinks contain 0.6 oz. of alcohol. They're all the same to a breathalyzer.
  • Stoddard, Cora F. The Teacher's Part in the Anti-alcohol Movement. Boston: Scientific Temperance Federation, 1927.
  • The Story of a Paying Investment. New Haven, CT: Scientific Temperance Federation, 1927.
  • Temperance and prohibition papers, including those of the Scientific Temperance Federation: 1870s-1960s. Ohio Historical Society. Majority of pre-1933 material available on 364 rolls of microfilm, cataloged as MIC 107. Microfilm available through interlibrary loan.
  • Truth, I.B. The Triple Threat, Alcohol - Tobacco - Dope.
    Westerville, OH: Scientific Temperance Federation, 1968.

Filed Under: Prohibition

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