MS 216 - The Bettsville Women's Christian Temperance Union
|MS 216 - The Bettsville Women's Christian Temperance Union
The records contained in this collection, which span the years 1906-1969, present the history, activities, and beliefs of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). These records include minutes, correspondence, reports, WCTU publications, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, programs, and the personal papers of Sarah Berlekamp Smith, an important member of the Bettsville, Ohio, WCTU.
The records were donated to the Center for Archival Collections in February 1982 through the cooperation of Kathryn Feathers of Bettsville, who is the daughter of Sarah Berlekamp, and Jill Gates Smith of the Women's Studies Archives Project (WSAP). Literary and property rights have been dedicated to the public, and duplication is permitted for the purposes of preservation and scholarly research. The register was prepared by Robert Dunkelberger in April 1985.
The temperance movement began in Fredonia, New York, led by Dr. Dio Lewis, in December 1873. It took root in Ohio when Dr. Lewis spoke in Hillsboro and Washington Court House later that same month. The Ohio WCTU was organized in June 1874, at Springfield; in November of that year the National Women's Christian Temperance Union was officially organized at a convention in Cleveland; and the World WCTU was founded in Philadelphia in 1885. The group's main principles involved belief in God, the Golden Rule, eight-hour work days, justice, world peace, personal abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, and education of the public about temperance and prohibition. Young people were actively recruited in the WCTU. Children from birth to six years of age joined the White Ribbon recruits, while older youth, ages 6-12 joined the Loyal Temperance Legion, and those in their teens and twenties belonged to the Youth Temperance Council.
The Bettsville Union was organized in December 1903. Its members were involved in a number of activities, including distributing temperance literature to schools, the active solicitation of new members and visiting other towns for the purposes of organizing new chapters. The Bettsville WCTU also held monthly meetings with a program that combined lessons on temperance and religious songs and devotions. Sarah Berlekamp Smith, who was an active member and lecturer, served as a local and county president. She also was the literature director and state promoter for the Ohio WCTU.
|Scope and Content
The Bettsville WCTU Collection contains a large number of records on its activities and beliefs. The proceedings include meeting minutes and membership lists for the Bettsville WCTU and other local chapters. The correspondence contains a great many letters sent to Sarah Berlekamp Smith by the Ohio WCTU, National WCTU, and WCTU members. These letters deal for the most part with literature, such as pamphlets and flyers, since Sarah B. Smith was Director of Literature for the Ohio WCTU.
The subject file contains the personal papers of Sarah Berlekamp Smith. These include correspondence, church papers, farm financial reports, newspaper clippings, and photographs. The correspondence is from family and friends on personal matters not related to the WCTU; the farm financial reports list expenses and income earned form Sarah B. Smith's farm; and the newspaper clippings include a number of articles written by her about Bettsville for the Fremont newspaper. The personal papers of Sarah B. Smith were separated from the rest of the collection due to their relatively small amount and lack of relation to the WCTU.
The WCTU reports include those for conventions, finances, and literature. Most were either compiled by or sent to Sarah B. Smith. The literary productions include lectures, notes and poetry by Sarah B. Smith. These give a good view of the history, activities, and beliefs of the WCTU. There are few financial documents in the collection. What is included are statements and receipts that pertain to local chapters and the Ohio WCTU. The scrapbook materials consist of newspaper clippings that deal with WCTU meetings and activities. A large number of them are dated, although most do not have a date or mention the paper from which they were taken.
The collection contains a great amount of printed material. These include WCTU publications, flyers, handbills, plays, pamphlets, songs, programs, and signs and posters. All WCTU materials are designed to promote their ideas on total abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, in addition to leading a good Christian life. One problem with the flyers, handbills, and pamphlets is that there is no good method of organizing them, since they are not dated and do not fall into precise categories. The photographic materials comprise a total of two positive prints of WCTU members at Lakeside, Ohio, one of which was taken in 1935.
This collection has excellent research value, particularly for those interested in women's studies and social organizations. The WCTU records contained here show how women formed an active political and religious organization. The records show the structure of the WCTU and the methods the women used to accomplish their objectives. The subject file can be used to study the life of one member of the WCTU in particular, Sarah Berlekamp Smith. This file deals with her personal life, while her WCTU activities are included with the rest of the collection. These records also have research value in terms of studying a social organization during the early-to-mid-twentieth century in terms of their activities and programs.
SARAH BERLEKAMP SMITH--PERSONAL PAPERS
LECTURES--WCTU (SARAH BERLEKAMP SMITH)
NOTES--WCTU (SARAH BERLEKAMP SMITH)
SCRAPBOOKS AND SCRAPBOOK MATERIALS
CERTIFICATES AND AWARDS--WCTU
HANDBILLS--WCTU (PLANS OF WORK)
SIGNS AND POSTERS--WCTU