Ella Boole: World-Wide WCTU Prohibition Leader. Discover More.

Ella Boole (Ella Alexander Boole) was born in 1858. It was into a prosperous family in Ohio. From the College of Wooster she received both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. During college she developed strong skills in public speaking.

Married Temperance Activist

Ella BooleShe married a prominent Methodist minister, William Boole. He was active in temperance work. They lived in Prohibition Park, New York.

Influenced by her husband, Boole joined the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). That was in 1883. She then skillfully and effectively organized new chapters or unions.

Ella Boole advanced rapidly. In 1891 she became vice-president of the New York State WCTU. She held that leadership position until 1925. The exception was a six-year period (1903-1909). During that time she promoted temperance as an officer in the Presbyterian Church home mission. Ms. Boole worked to obtain prohibition in military bases, Indian reservations, and government buildings.

Boole campaigned to be a Presidential Elector in New York state in 1916 for the Prohibition Party. But voters did not elect her. Next, she lobbied the New York State legislature to vote for ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment. (That amendment established National Prohibition.)

Then in 1920 she ran against James Wolcott Wadsworth, Jr. That was for the Republican Party nomination for the U.S. Senate. When that failed, she ran for that office on the Prohibition Party ticket. But she lost to Wadsworth. Later she again ran for the Senate twice but lost both times.

WCTU & WWCTU President

In 1925 Ella Boole became president of the national WCTU. She held that post until 1933. Those were difficult years for advocates of National Prohibition (1920-1933). The threat of Repeal loomed.

Pro-Repeal leader Pauline Sabin started the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform. It was because of Boole.

Ella Boole said to Congress “I represent the women of America! Sabin said to herself “Well, lady, here’s one woman you don’t represent.” It had been generally assumed that women supported Prohibition. Of course, there were millions more who opposed it.

Boole served as head of the World Woman’s Christian Temperance Union from 1931 to 1947. Thus, for several years, she was both head of the national and the world WCTU. She stepped down at age 88. Boole continued to insist that prohibition had been a great success.

Boole opposed attending movies, smoking, gambling, and playing cards. She did so until her death in 1952.

Ella Boole


By Ella Boole
    • Ten Reasons Why the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union Should Carry On. WCTU, 1919.
    • Prohibition is the Best Method.
    • Prohibition’s Progress. WCTU, 1927.
    • Give Prohibition Its Chance, 1929. (Online)
    • (With W. Link). The Memories of Ella A. Boole. Oral Hist Prog, 1950.
    • Prohibition. Reel-to-reel tape, 1932.

Ella Boole