Women's Christian Temperance Union.This organization originated in Hillsboro, Ohio, in 1873, as a result of a lecture by Dr. Dio Lewis in which he suggested that the women form praying bands and visit the saloons holding prayer service. The idea was at once put into practical application and in a few months had spread all over the country. It took special hold in Kansas, where the women were active in the temperance movement from the first. In a year's time the women decided that prayer was not sufficient for the occasion and met in Chautauqua, N. Y., where the national Women's Christian Temperance Union was organized in 1874, with Miss Francis E. Willard as president. At once local unions began to be organized in Kansas and Miss Willard appointed Miss Amanda Way to act as leader in this state until it should be organized. Miss Way called and presided over the meeting held in 1878 at Bismarck Grove at Lawrence, where the Kansas Women's Christian Temperance Union was organized. Mrs. M. B. Smith was elected president and served for two years. Her successor, Mrs. Drusella Wilson, of Lawrence, served for three years, through the campaign for state prohibition, which was brought to a successful termination in 1880.
The W. C. T. U. was an efficient factor in carrying the amendment, as it was organized in every part of the state. Mrs. Wilson, accompanied by her husband, traveled more than 3,000 miles by carriage and held 300 public meetings in school houses and churches during 1879-1880. Mrs. Laura B. Fields, who was president from 1882 till 1884, was termed by Miss Willard "one of the gentlest of brave leaders." Mrs. Fannie Rastall, elected in 1885, was noted for her business ability and was called from the presidency of the Kansas W. C. T. U. to the business management of the Union Signal in 1891. She was succeeded by Mrs. Sophia Grubb, who served for two years. Mrs. Lurenda B. Smith, who was elected in 1894, carried the organization through the trying times when the law was more or less openly violated, and when Kansas had to fight the national government to maintain state prohibition. Mrs. Ella W. Brown, elected in 1897, was the first woman to receive the degree of LL. U. from the Kansas University. She practiced law in Holton. During the administration of Mrs. Elizabeth B. Hutchinson (1900 to 1910), the organization had a large growth, doubling its membership and influence for good. The present incumbent of the presidential office, Mrs. Lillian Mitchner, was elected at the convention in 1910, which voted to make equal suffrage the principal work of the entire organization until it should be won in Kansas, and her efforts have been largely in that direction, both in the legislature and among the voters.
The Women's Christian Temperance Union is divided into six main departments, which in turn are subdivided as follows: IOrganization, which includes work among foreigners and miners and work among colored people; IIPrevention, which deals with heredity and with medical temperance; IIIEducational, the largest and most important department, deals with scientific temperance instruction in schools and colleges, summer assemblies, temperance work in Sunday schools, temperance literature, presenting the cause to influential bodies, education through the press, anti-narcotics, W. C. T. U. institutes, school savings banks, medal contests, Union Signal, and Young Crusader; IVEvangelistic, which covers prison work, coöperation with missionary societies, systematic giving, rescue work, juvenile court work, work among railroad employers, sailors and soldiers, Sabbath observance, mercy, and purity in art and literature; VSocial, which includes the flower missions, fairs, open air and social meeetings;[sic] VILegal, a very important department, carrying on active propaganda work along the lines of legislation, equal suffrage, peace, petition work in favor of various laws, and measures and Christian citizenship.
The educational work of the W. C. T. U. has been an important factor in holding up the highest ideals in politics and civic work, and many of the better laws with regard to women and children and for the protection of the youth against vice is directly traceable to the efforts of this body. The organization founded the Beloit Industrial School for Girls, and although they turned the institution over to the state after running it successfully for a year, the W. C. T. U. women have always taken a personal interest in it. The organization in 1911 had a membership of 10,000 women in Kansas and their 1911 convention declared for universal suffrage for women, a law against "white slavery," a law to restrict the procreation of the socially unfit, viz: epileptics, habitual inebriates, venereals, imbeciles and degenerates, and the appointment of a superintendent of the department of purity in art and literature to keep in touch with the picture shows and vaudevilles to the end that these agencies be made educative in a helpful way.Pages 929-930 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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