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W.C.T.U. - ITIES: Woman's Christian Temperance Union
Title : W.C.T.U. - ITIES: Woman's Christian Temperance Union W.C.T.U. - ITIES: Woman's Christian Temperance Union
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Source : Quiz and lantern, 28 September 1899, p. 9
Date of creation : 1899
Format : Cartoon
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Description :

In the 1880s woman's suffrage was actively championed by organised groups. The first Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in Australia was established in Sydney in 1882. The Union was started in Adelaide in 1886 by Mrs Mary Clement Leavitt of America, first round-the-world missionary of the organisation which was dedicated to promoting individual abstinence from alcohol and also strongly supported votes for women.

The South Australian branch greatly expanded its operations in 1889, with Elizabeth Webb Nicholls coordinating efforts, assisted by Serena Lake. It was responsible for collecting a high proportion of the 11,600 signatures for the petition calling for women's suffrage. Cartoonists of the day were not kind about members of the 'Water, Coffee, Tea Union', who they often portrayed as unattractive 'old maids'.

The Women's Suffrage League of South Australia was established in July 1888 to campaign for votes for women. It organised petitions, lobbied Members of Parliament, and mustered formidable numbers of women to attend the debates. Mary Lee was the secretary and Rosetta Birks the treasurer. Catherine Helen Spence joined the League in 1891.

In 1894 Parliament passed the Constitution Amendment Bill granting women the right to vote and stand for election to Parliament. Royal Assent to enact the Bill was signed by Queen Victoria in February 1895.

Related names :

Women's Christian Temperance Union

Coverage year : 1899
Period : 1884-1913
Further reading :
Allen, Margaret, Mary Hutchison and Alison Mackinnon. Fresh evidence, new witnesses: finding women's history, Netley, S. Aust.: South Australian Government Printer, 1989

Jones, Helen. In her own name: a history of women in South Australia, Adelaide, Wakefield Press, 1994

McCorkindale, Isabel, ed. Torch-bearers: the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of South Australia, 1886-1948, Adelaide: Woman's Christian Temperance Union of South Australia, 1949

Internet links :
Documenting a democracy See: South Australia: Constitution (Female Suffrage) Act 1895

Women & politics in South Australia See: Women's suffrage



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