A Finding Aid to the Woman's Christian Temperance Union Records. Record Unit 392

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1 A Finding Aid to the Woman's Christian Temperance Union Records Record Unit 392 Finding aid prepared by Nancy Cole in May 2012 and updated by Insley Julier in January Edgartown, Massachusetts 2012 Martha's Vineyard Museum Descriptive Summary Repository: Martha's Vineyard Museum Gale Huntington Research Library 59 School Street P.O. Box 1310 Edgartown, MA Call Number: RU 392 Creator: Massachusetts Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Chilmark Chapter Massachusetts Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Oak Bluffs Chapter Massachusetts Woman's Christian Temperance Union. West Tisbury Chapter Title: Woman's Christian Temperance Union records Dates: Physical Description: 3 boxes Language(s): The materials are in English. Abstract: The records of the Chilmark, Oak Bluffs and West Tisbury chapters of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union contain bound journals of minutes, treasurer's accounts and membership rolls. The collection also includes Dukes County 1

2 Administrative Information Access Restrictions There are no restrictions. Convention reports, materials published by the Massachusetts Woman's Christian Temperance Union, poetry written by members, newspaper clippings and other ephemera. Use and Reproduction Restrictions Requests to reproduce material from this collection should be directed to the library's staff. Reproduction fees may apply. Preferred Citation Martha's Vineyard Museum, RU 392, Woman's Christian Temperance Union Records, Box #, Folder #. Acquisition Information Chilmark Chapter records, gift of Mrs. Johnson Whiting in (Accession no ). Oak Bluffs Chapter records and Dukes County Convention materials, gift of Jean Baird in (Accession no ). Additional Dukes County Convention and Oak Bluffs Chapter materials, gift of Carl Siktberg in (Accession no ). Index Terms Subjects - Topics Clubs--Massachusetts--Martha's Vineyard Prohibition--Massachusetts--Martha's Vineyard Temperance--Massachusetts--Martha's Vineyard Subjects Places Chilmark (Mass.) Dukes County (Mass.) Martha's Vineyard (Mass.)--Social life and customs Oak Bluffs (Mass.) West Tisbury (Mass.) Form/Genre Terms Account books Annual reports Clippings 2

3 Correspondence Fliers Membership lists Minutes Publications Biography/Historical Note The Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) is a national organization with local and statewide chapters. It purports to be the oldest continuing, non-sectarian woman's organization in the United States. It was begun in 1874 by women who were concerned about the abuse of alcohol and its impact on families and civil society. The members chose total abstinence as their lifestyle and the protection of the home as their goal. In the 1800s, alcohol was widely used. It was indispensable as a beverage, as water was often scarce in urban areas, and both water and milk were known to carry diseases. The medical community widely accepted alcohol as an anesthetic and analgesic. During the Civil War, the production and consumption of alcohol climbed and did not abate in the post-war prosperity. By the late 19th century, the saloon was seen as a major social curse and society itself a drunken one. The WCTU saw alcoholism as a consequence of larger social problems rather than a personal failing. As a result, it was interested in several social reform issues, including prostitution, sanitation, public health and international peace. The WTCU was also instrumental in organizing woman's suffrage leaders and in helping more women become involved in American politics. By the late 1800s, the WTCU's membership peaked, with over 200,000 dues paying members. As of 2006, its membership was approximately 8,000. On Martha's Vineyard, a chapter was formed in Oak Bluffs in Other chapters formed in Vineyard Haven, West Tisbury and Chilmark. Scope and Content of Collection The records of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), , include bound volumes containing membership rolls, minutes and treasurer's accounts for the Oak Bluffs, Chilmark and West Tisbury chapters. Many of the record books contain mixed material, for example, the membership lists are often included with the minutes. Records for some years are missing. The collection also includes materials from the Dukes County WCTU, which collected dues from the various towns and organized island-wide initiatives. The county union also held an annual convention. 3

4 Series I: Dukes County and Oak Bluffs Chapter Records, Series II: West Tisbury and Chilmark Chapter Records, Series III: Publications, 1924 Collection Contents Series I. Dukes County and Oak Bluffs Chapter Records, The Oak Bluffs Chapter of the WCTU is particularly well-documented in this collection. Organizational records are handwritten in bound volumes, which include membership lists, minutes and treasurer's accounts, Clippings and other ephemera are inserted between the pages of these record books. Annual conventions, which rotated amongst the towns, were held under the auspices of the Dukes County WCTU and the series contains reports of county executive meetings and other activities. In some instances Dukes County and Oak Bluffs records are intermingled; however they have been retained in their original order. The Dukes County account book, reveals that the county-wide WCTU collected dues from the different chapters or unions, including, Chilmark, Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven and West Tisbury. Edgartown did not have a paying chapter. The series is arranged by geographical area and therein chronologically. Miscellaneous materials are filed at the end of the series. 1 1 Oak Bluffs Chapter Records Oak Bluffs Chapter Treasurer's Book Oak Bluffs Chapter Roll of Members Oak Bluffs Chapter Minutes Oak Bluffs Chapter Minutes Oak Bluffs Chapter Minutes Oak Bluffs Chapter Minutes Oak Bluffs Chapter Treasurer's Book Oak Bluffs Chapter Minutes Dukes County Convention Reports Dukes County Convention Reports and , 1958 Oak Bluffs Chapter Reports 3 1 Dukes County WCTU Account Book Dukes County Miscellaneous Fliers and Receipts 1893, undated 4

5 Series II. Chilmark and West Tisbury Chapter Records, The members of the Chilmark and West Tisbury Chapters of the WCTU appear to have met together, and bound volumes combine minutes and other organizational records from both chapters, particularly for the years Later volumes, seem to focus primarily on the West Tisbury Chapter. Miscellaneous papers include certificates, fliers, reports, prayers or devotionals, and poetry. Materials are arranged chronologically, except for miscellaneous papers which are filed at the end of the series. 3 3 Chilmark and West Tisbury Chapter Minutes 3 4 West Tisbury Chapter Minutes West Tisbury Chapter Minutes West Tisbury Miscellaneous Papers , undated Series III. Publications, 1924 Series contains publications issued by the Massachusetts Woman's Christian Temperance Union on the occasion of their golden jubilee in The Massachusetts WCTU formed in The series is arranged chronologically. 3 7 The Massachusetts Woman's Christian 1924 Temperance Union: Golden Jubilee Magazine Note: Contains two copies. 5

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