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National Woman's Christian Temperance Union

The NWCTU initially worked to obtain pledges of total abstinence from alcohol, using education and example as their method. By 1875 it had expanded its mission to include tobacco and other drugs.

The movement to start such an organization had begun with the "Woman's Crusade" over the winter of 1873-74, during which bands of women succeeded in driving liquor out of 250 Ohio communities. Following this success several local woman's groups agreed to hold a preorganizational meeting at Chautauqua, New York, in the summer of 1874; it was during that meeting that the foundation of the NWCTU was laid. The NWCTUwas formally organized in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 18, 1874. Annie Wittenmyer was elected as its first president, Frances E. Willard as corresponding secretary, Mary Johnson as recording secretary, and Mary Ingham as treasurer.

With the election of Frances Willard as president in 1879, the NWCTU's mission was expanded to include a wide breadth of social issues. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union has since been instrumental in giving women an equal voice in divorce cases, formation of shelters for abused women and children, implementation of stiffer penalties for sexual crimes against women, and equal rights for women in the workplace. The Union was a founding member of the National Council for Women (1888) and the International Council of Women (1893), and a charter member of the United Nations Non-Governmental Organizations (1945)

NWCTU members proudly display one of their favorite slogans.
NWCTU members

NWCTU (WCTU) Presidents

1874-1879 Annie Wittenmyer
1879-1898 Frances E. Willard
1898-1914 Lilliam M.N. Stevens
1914-1924 Anna Gordon
1925-1933 Ella A. Boole
1933-1944 Ida B. Wise Smith
1944-1953 Mamie Colvin
1953-1959 Agnes D. Hays
1959-1974 Ruth Tooze
1974-1980 Edith K. Stanley
1980-1988 Martha Edgar
1988-1996 Rachel B. Kelly
1996-2006 Sarah F. Ward
2006- Rita K. Wert

Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Frances E. Willard

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This page was last updated on June 11, 2018.