World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union: Prohibition for the World

The World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WWCTU) began in 1883. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) organized it. The intent was to coordinate the work of WCTU chapters (unions) around the world.

The first convention of the World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was in 1891. By then, WCTU unions existed in over 40 countries and colonies. Total paid membership was over 200,000 women. In addition, the number of children who had pledged to abstain from alcohol was over one-half million.

Membership

By 1929, the number of individual WCTU members was 685,113. And they lived on five continents.

The World’s WCTU existed in these 51 countries and colonies.

World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Margaret Bright Lucas, first president of the WWCTU.

Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Bermuda
Brazil.
Bulgaria
Burma
Canada
Ceylon
Chile.
China
Costa Rica
Cuba
Denmark
Egypt.
England
Estonia
Fiji.
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Iceland
India.
Ireland
Ireland (Northern)
Italy.
Japan
Korea
Latvia

World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Frances Willard, best-known president of the WWCTU.

Lithuania
Madagascar
Madeira.
Malaya
Mexico
Newfoundland
New Zealand
Norway.
Panama
Peru
Poland.
Scotland
South Africa
Sweden.
Switzerland
Syria.
Turkey
Uruguay
United States
West Africa.

Structure of the WWCTU

The World’s WCTU had many departments and branches.

I. Organization

Young Women’s Branch.
Loyal Temperance Legion Branch.

II. Prevention and Education

Scientific Temperance Instruction in Schools and Colleges.
Sunday School Work.
Moral Education.
Little White Ribboners.
School of Methods.
Publicity.
Medal Contests.
Humane Education.
School Savings and Thrift.
Medical Temperance.
Food Reform.
Non-alcoholic Fruit Products.

III. Evangelistic

Evangelistic Work.
Prisons, Charitable and Reformatory Work.
Work among Soldiers and Sailors.
Systematic Giving and Bequests.
Cooperation with Missionary Societies.

IV. Social

Parlor Meetings.
Counter-attractions to Licensed Houses.
Flower Mission.

V. Legal

Petition and Legislative Work.
The Protection of Native Races.
Peace and International Arbitration.
Citizenship.
Traveller’s Aid.

The Pledge of the  World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union

The WWCTU membership pledge was simple.

I hereby solemnly promise, God helping me, to abstain fromn all Alcoholic Liquors as beverages, whether distilled, fermented, or malted. And I also promise to abstain from opium in all its forms. I will employ all proper means to discourage the use and traffic in the same.

 

Note: The World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union is often misspelled. Sometimes the spelling is the World Women’s Christian Temperance Union or some combination thereof. But the most common error is to misspell Woman’s as Women’s.

Sources on the WWCTU

Blocker, J., et al. (eds) Alcohol and Temperance in Modern Society. An International Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003.

Cherrington, E., et al. (eds) Standard Encyclopedia of the Alcohol Problem.  Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 5 vol., 1925-1930.

Gordon, A., and Phelps, E. The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard. Chicago: WCTU, 1898.

Gordon, E. Women Torch-bearers. The Story of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Evanston, IL: WCTU, 1924.

Willard, F. Glimpses of Fifty Years. Chicago: WCTU, 1889.

Stebbins, J., Brown, T. Fifty Years History of the Temperance Cause. Hartford, CT: Fitch, 1876.

Tyrell, I. Woman’s World/Woman’s Empire. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in International Perspective, 1880-1930.  Chapel Hill: U North Carolina Press, 1991.