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Temperance collection

Identifier: SSC-MS-00440

Scope and Contents

The Temperance Collection encompasses a broad social movement in which American women played a prominent role from the early decades of the nineteenth century into the twentieth century. They participated in a variety of organizational settings on the local, state, national and international level. While the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) is generally regarded to be the leading temperance organization from its beginnings in 1873, other local and national groups were active at different points in the Prohibition movement. That diversity is evident in this collection.

While the bulk of the material comes from the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Temperance Collection also contains material from as early as 1835. There is also a significant amount of material from the post-Volstead Act (the Eighteenth Amendment) period, reflecting the fight to ward off the immediate challenges to national prohibition once it became law in 1920. This struggle, much like the earlier temperance crusade, was carried out and led by women.

Numerous secondary works address the American temperance movement and the critical role played by women in that movement. See, for example, Ruth Bordin, Woman and Temperance: The Quest for Power and Liberty, 1873-1900 (Rutgers University Press, 1990) and Janet Zollinger Giele, Two Paths to Women's Equality: Temperance, Suffrage, and the Origins of Modern Feminism (Twayne, 1995).

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1832-1987


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection may be protected by copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy all copyright holders.


3.209 linear feet (6 containers)


Collection encompasses a broad social movement in which American women played a prominent role. Materials include information on the Women's Christian Temperance Union; photographs; biographies and autobiographies; postcards; songbooks; and stamps. Also included are publications from various organizations.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. I. Organizations
  2. II. Biographical Material and Photographs
  3. III. Memorabilia
  4. IV. Oversize Material
  5. Books on Shelf

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials in this subject collection were either purchased or given to the Sophia Smith Collection by various donors. The collection nearly doubled in size with a significant purchase of material in 1998.

Temperance collection
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by mnsss.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss115 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:10-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063