Womans Christian Temperance Union
WCTU in Victoria
|The banner appeared at the top of the WCTU section in each issue of the Alliance Record|
The WCTU began in the United States of America. According to the WCTU website the WCTU "was organized in 1874 by women who were concerned about the problems alcohol was causing their families and society. The members chose total abstinence from all alcohol as their life style and protection of the home as their watchword."
Branches of the WCTU spread to other countries including Canada in 1873, New South Wales (Sydney) in 1882 and New Zealand in 1885. In 1885 Mary Clement Leavitt, from Boston, visited Australia promoting the message of the WCTU and a number of local branches were formed, including branches in Victoria. In 1886 Mary Love arrived in Victoria from America and Marie Kirk arrived in Victoria from England. Both of these women helped found the WCTU of Victoria bringing the separate Victorian branches together into one network.
The WCTU groups in Victoria in 1857 were Ararat, Bairnsdale, Bendigo, Brunswick, Camperdown, Dunolly, Footscray, Horsham, Melbourne, Portland, Prahran, Sale, Walhalla, Warracknambeal, Warragul and Warrnambool.
A major strength of the WCTU was its network structure with branches quickly established in towns and suburbs in the colony. By 1891 there were 68 branches of the WCTU in Victoria plus 20 Young Woman's Christian Temperance Union branches. According to the 4th annual report there was a total of 3,250 members plus 338 "honorary members, Gentlemen".(WCTU 4th Annual Report page 3)
From its formation in Victoria the WCTU was an active organisation recruiting new members and establishing new branches. 1891 saw the formation of 27 new WCTU branches and 15 YWCTU branches providing an increase of 1,690 members for the year.