University of Tasmania
White_Ribboners_Thesis.pdf (2.39 MB)

White-ribboners : the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Tasmania, 1885-1914

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posted on 2023-05-27, 07:40 authored by Jordan, RC
The Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was active in Tasmania from 1885 till 1914 and beyond. Members included women from all walks of life but generally later middle aged, middle class, Protestant women who believed in alcoholic temperance. The WCTU was an international organisation founded on the belief that alcohol abuse was the cause of major defects and evils in society; it was the ultimate goal of the WCTU to establish prohibition in every country of the globe. The Tasmanian WCTU worked to establish prohibition or local option, which would have allowed partial prohibition, without great success. Members involved themselves in many areas of work including outreach to the community, the rights of women and the welfare of children. To have greater success they realised that they needed political strength; to gain this they needed the vote. The WCTU was the first organisation to begin a fight for womanhood suffrage in Tasmania Members fought for eleven years before they were finally granted this privilege. The WCTU was important for Tasmanian women. It was the first female organisation that told women to transcend the private sphere of home and family and move into the public sphere, to take up issues and be involved in the legislation and laws that affected them. The impact that the WCTU had on Tasmanian society is difficult to judge, because its work in many respects was of a kind that is not measurable, for example in attempting to rehabilitate drunks. The media in Tasmania wrote about WCTU conventions and meetings but its activity did not provoke the kind· of public debate that other women or organisations created. The WCTU members were sometimes misunderstood but generally ignored as they went about their work. The work of WCTU members in Tasmania was important and ground breaking in many respects. They worked in areas that were not of interest to men and in areas that were traditionally not the place of respectable women. Due to the WCTU in Tasmania the welfare and rights of prostitutes and neglected children were helped, anti-juvenile smoking laws were created and temperance principles were taught. The WCTU had an impact in areas of Tasmanian society that were of little interest to other groups or even the government in some instances and this thesis analyses that impact.


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