White Ribbon Association

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Margaret Eleanor Parker
Margaret Bright Lucas

The White Ribbon Association (WRA), previously known as the British Women's Temperance Association (BWTA), is an organization that seeks to educate the public about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, as well as gambling.[1] It was founded following a meeting in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1876 featuring American temperance activist "Mother" Eliza Stewart. Margaret Eleanor Parker, a founding member, served as its first president.[2] The next president was Clara Lucas Balfour. Margaret Bright Lucas, who toured with Stewart during these meetings, succeeded as BWTA president in 1878. The BWTA achieved greater success under her successor, Lady Henry Somerset, but ultimately British temperance was destined to achieve less than its American counterpart. Lady Henry was succeeded by Rosalind Howard, Countess of Carlisle, known as "The Radical Countess" for her opposition to alcohol consumption. Lucas was however, an important link in the Anglo-American women's reform networks as well as being a pioneer in British women's temperance.

Early years[edit]

The BWTA was organized at Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1876, under the lead of Parker, of Dundee, Scotland, as the result of interest in the Woman's Temperance Crusade in the United States. Parker was chosen president, and in 1877, Balfour, succeeded by Lucas. In 1885, the association was affiliated to the World Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WWCTU), of which body Lucas was the first president. The pledge of the BWTA was, "I promise by God's help to abstain from all intoxicating drinks, and to try to induce others to do the same."[3]

In the year 1893-94, 1,500 meetings were held by members of the National Executive Committee, and 2,000 in all were reported to headquarters; 300 new societies were formed; 8,500,000 pages of literature were issued, including the organ, The Women's Signal, which had a circulation of 16,271 per week.[3]

The departments of the association were: Organization; Speakers' Bureau; "Y" (Young Women's) B. W. T. A. ; Temperance Legions; Evangelistic; Bible Lessons and Study : Unfermented Wine at the Sacrament; Preventive; Social Purity; Social; Drawing-Room Meetings; Facts: Educational; Health and Hygiene; Adult Schools; High Schools and Private Schools; Legal; Brewster Sessions; Police Matrons; Women as Poor Law Guardians; Members of School Boards, etc.; Work Among Women Municipal Voters; Political; Literature and Press; Inebriate Women; Native Races; Traveling. The Association supports a whiteribbon (publishing) company, an industrial farm home, a retreat for inebriate women, St. Mary's Training Home for Girls Alpha House, a preventive and rescue home. A Scotch Christian Union of the British Women's Temperance Association was organized in 1876.[3]

History[edit]

The Temperance Fountain was erected by members and friends of the BWTA.

The BWTA ran many successful and lively girls' groups, known as Y-branches (for youth). These were often associated with Methodist and other non-conformist churches, and organised all kinds of activities as well as weekly meetings. One of their most successful was a "Masque of Noble Women", which was performed by dozens of branches all over Britain from 1915. A box of costumes was bought and lent out to branches along with copies of the script. Probably modelled on the suffragette "Pageant of Great Women", it featured popular heroines including Florence Nightingale, Queen Victoria, Boadicea and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. [4]

BWTA women often wore white ribbons as a symbol of the Temperance cause, and thus their organ was named the White Ribbon.[5]. In 2004, the organisation was re-named the White Ribbon Association.

Notable people[edit]

References[edit]

Attribution[edit]

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