Wilbur F. Crafts, Alcohol, and His International Reform Bureau

Wilbur F. Crafts was a self-styled “Christian lobbyist.” He formed the International Reform Bureau in 1895. Crafts led it for 28 years until his death in 1922.


I.   Wilbur F. Crafts

II.  International Reform Bureau

III. Selected Publications

I. Wilbur F. Crafts

Best known as a prohibition leader, Crafts also opposed movies and promoted their heavy censorship by government. The motion picture industry feared his Reform Bureau. It responded with self-regulation in an effort to thwart regulations. (See William Mann’s Tinseltown: : Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood for more.)

Opponents called Wilbur Crafts a reform fanatic. Among many other things, he opposed alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, narcotics, divorce, close dancing, and “joy rides.” The latter, he insisted “often proved a ride of lifelong shame and woe.” A protector of the Sabbath, he promoted laws to outlaw baseball on Sunday.

Wilbur F. Crafts
Wilbur Fisk Crafts

In general, Crafts advocated using the government’s police power to enforce his version of morality. That morality was heavily based on opposition to pleasure in general. And to sexuality in particular.

Wilbur Crafts was the son of a puritan Methodist preacher. Beginning in his father’s Methodist congregation, he later changed it to Congregational. After receiving his doctorate in divinity, he became a Presbyterian minister. Even in his religious affiliation he seemed to reject the status quo. Indeed, he seemed to periodically reform himself in religion.

II. International Reform Bureau

Wilbur F. Crafts
Reform Bureau Office

Advocates credited both Crafts and his International Reform Bureau with playing important roles in bringing about National Prohibition.

He was very strong in promoting his causes. During his career, he lectured in 29 countries. He published an average of a book a year. And he lectured an average of six days per week. In his zeal, he shared much with fellow prohibitionist leader Wayne Wheeler.

The Reform Bureau worked closely with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). It also worked with the Anti-Saloon League and others to promote Prohibition.

Crofts and the Bureau were to some extent one and the same. As leader, he generally refused to take his very modest salary. Instead, he used the money to further the work of the Bureau. It appears that the Bureau ceased to exist shortly after his death.

III. Selected Publications

All by Wilber F. Crafts