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The Bettsville Women's Christian Temperance Union - MS 216
The records contained in this collection, which span the years 1906-1969, present the history, activities, and beliefs of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). These records include minutes, correspondence, reports, WCTU publications, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, programs, and the personal papers of Sarah Berlekamp Smith, an important member of the Bettsville, Ohio, WCTU.
The records were donated to the Center for Archival Collections in February 1982 through the cooperation of Kathryn Feathers of Bettsville, who is the daughter of Sarah Berlekamp, and Jill Gates Smith of the Women's Studies Archives Project (WSAP). Literary and property rights have been dedicated to the public, and duplication is permitted for the purposes of preservation and scholarly research. The register was prepared by Robert Dunkelberger in April 1985.
The temperance movement began in Fredonia, New York, led by Dr. Dio Lewis, in December 1873. It took root in Ohio when Dr. Lewis spoke in Hillsboro and Washington Court House later that same month. The Ohio WCTU was organized in June 1874, at Springfield; in November of that year the National Women's Christian Temperance Union was officially organized at a convention in Cleveland; and the World WCTU was founded in Philadelphia in 1885. The group's main principles involved belief in God, the Golden Rule, eight-hour work days, justice, world peace, personal abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, and education of the public about temperance and prohibition. Young people were actively recruited in the WCTU. Children from birth to six years of age joined the White Ribbon recruits, while older youth, ages 6-12 joined the Loyal Temperance Legion, and those in their teens and twenties belonged to the Youth Temperance Council.
The Bettsville Union was organized in December 1903. Its members were involved in a number of activities, including distributing temperance literature to schools, the active solicitation of new members and visiting other towns for the purposes of organizing new chapters. The Bettsville WCTU also held monthly meetings with a program that combined lessons on temperance and religious songs and devotions. Sarah Berlekamp Smith, who was an active member and lecturer, served as a local and county president. She also was the literature director and state promoter for the Ohio WCTU.
The Bettsville WCTU Collection contains a large number of records on its activities and beliefs. The proceedings include meeting minutes and membership lists for the Bettsville WCTU and other local chapters. The correspondence contains a great many letters sent to Sarah Berlekamp Smith by the Ohio WCTU, National WCTU, and WCTU members. These letters deal for the most part with literature, such as pamphlets and flyers, since Sarah B. Smith was Director of Literature for the Ohio WCTU.
The subject file contains the personal papers of Sarah Berlekamp Smith. These include correspondence, church papers, farm financial reports, newspaper clippings, and photographs. The correspondence is from family and friends on personal matters not related to the WCTU; the farm financial reports list expenses and income earned form Sarah B. Smith's farm; and the newspaper clippings include a number of articles written by her about Bettsville for the Fremont newspaper. The personal papers of Sarah B. Smith were separated from the rest of the collection due to their relatively small amount and lack of relation to the WCTU.
The WCTU reports include those for conventions, finances, and literature. Most were either compiled by or sent to Sarah B. Smith. The literary productions include lectures, notes and poetry by Sarah B. Smith. These give a good view of the history, activities, and beliefs of the WCTU. There are few financial documents in the collection. What is included are statements and receipts that pertain to local chapters and the Ohio WCTU. The scrapbook materials consist of newspaper clippings that deal with WCTU meetings and activities. A large number of them are dated, although most do not have a date or mention the paper from which they were taken.
The collection contains a great amount of printed material. These include WCTU publications, flyers, handbills, plays, pamphlets, songs, programs, and signs and posters. All WCTU materials are designed to promote their ideas on total abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, in addition to leading a good Christian life. One problem with the flyers, handbills, and pamphlets is that there is no good method of organizing them, since they are not dated and do not fall into precise categories. The photographic materials comprise a total of two positive prints of WCTU members at Lakeside, Ohio, one of which was taken in 1935.
This collection has excellent research value, particularly for those interested in women's studies and social organizations. The WCTU records contained here show how women formed an active political and religious organization. The records show the structure of the WCTU and the methods the women used to accomplish their objectives. The subject file can be used to study the life of one member of the WCTU in particular, Sarah Berlekamp Smith. This file deals with her personal life, while her WCTU activities are included with the rest of the collection. These records also have research value in terms of studying a social organization during the early-to-mid-twentieth century in terms of their activities and programs.
The minutes are predominately those of the Bettsville WCTU. They include the program of the meeting, business covered, and members present.
The lists include those of WCTU members from Helena and Wapakoneta, WCTU officers from Bettsville and Loraine, WCTU County Presidents from Ohio, and people who had registered with the WCTU at the Seneca County Fair.
Contains letters by Sarah Berlekamp Smith to members of the WCTU. The correspondence deals to a large degree with plans for the upcoming year and reports concerning literature, which are to be completed by local WCTU chapters.
Contains correspondence to Sarah Berlekamp Smith, dealing with WCTU activities, from the Ohio WCTU, National WCTU, the National WCTU Publishing House, the US Congress, and friends who were WCTU members.
SARAH BERLEKAMP SMITH--PERSONAL PAPERS
Arranged in seven categories by subject and within chronologically.
This file contains the personal papers of Sarah Berlekamp Smith. These include correspondence, both outgoing and incoming, church papers, financial reports from her farm, newspaper clippings, miscellaneous printed material, and photographs.
Contains reports compiled by Sarah Berlekamp Smith about WCTU meetings, Ohio WCTU conventions, and the National Convention in 1939. The reports include the convention programs, names of speakers present, and the information that was presented. One exception to these reports is a printed booklet on the 80th Ohio WCTU Convention in 1953 that gives a detailed description of the Ohio WCTU for that year.
These reports concern the finances involved with the Seneca County Centenary Report, Seneca County WCTU, and the Ohio WCTU. They list money donated to the WCTU, expenses, and membership dues.
Contains reports from a number of Ohio counties that detail what WCTU publications are being used by the local chapters and how much literature they distributed. Also contains summary reports for a number of years, totaling the information sent in by the local chapters.
Contains reports that have information on places visited, number of house calls made, number of new members secured, and amount of donations or offerings. They also have information on any new WCTU chapters that were organized.
LECTURES--WCTU (SARAH BERLEKAMP SMITH)
These lectures were written by Sarah Berlekamp Smith for various WCTU occasions, such as meetings, picnics, and dinners. They deal with the history of the WCTU and its activities.
NOTES--WCTU (SARAH BERLEKAMP SMITH)
Arranged chronologically, undated notes in no particular order.
Contains notes written by Sarah Berlekamp Smith involving WCTU meetings, activities, facts about alcohol, and thoughts on subjects related to the WCTU and its ideas on abstinence and moral behavior.
Arranged alphabetically by title of poem.
The poems, mostly written by Sarah Berlekamp Smith, promote the WCTU and attack the use of alcohol.
Contains financial statements that include the names of members of local chapters and the amount of dues money they paid to the Ohio WCTU. Other statements include materials and supplies that had been purchased by the Bettsville WCTU.
Contains receipts, most involving WCTU dues, that were paid by Sarah Berlekamp Smith.
SCRAPBOOKS AND SCRAPBOOK MATERIALS
Arranged chronologically, undated articles in no particular order.
Contains articles on WCTU events, most of which were written by Sarah Berlekamp Smith, who was the Bettsville correspondent for the Fremont newspaper. Other articles contain information about alcohol-related problems.
Includes booklets on narcotic education, alcohol education, and handbooks detailing the organization and activities of the National WCTU for several years.
Contains several issues of "The Promoter," a monthly bulletin put out by the National WCTU Publishing House. It contains news concerning WCTU publications.
Contains several issues of the "White Ribbon Bulletin" published by the World WCTU in Great Britain. It contains information on WCTU activities in a number of countries.
CERTIFICATES AND AWARDS--WCTU
Arranged alphabetically by type of certificate.
Contains certificates awarded for the most part to Sarah Berlekamp Smith or the Bettsville WCTU for their activities in the Ohio or National WCTU.
Arranged alphabetically by type of contest.
Contains material on conducting poster, speech, and story writing contests.
Arranged in no particular order.
Contains flyers publicizing various WCTU beliefs or programs, including the dangers of alcohol and drugs, and speaking engagements by Graccio Houlder.
Arranged in no particular order.
Includes handbills dealing with WCTU publications, alcohol, stories supporting the WCTU, and the need to donate to the WCTU.
HANDBILLS--WCTU (PLANS OF WORK)
Contains handbills put out by various departments of the Ohio and National WCTU. The plans detail what the WCTU should do during the coming year in terms of promoting their ideas.
Contains issues of "The Union Signal" which was published by the National WCTU, and which includes articles on the WCTU and on matters of concern relating to alcohol and drugs.
Contains issues of "The Ohio Messenger", which was published by the Ohio WCTU. It has articles on the activities of WCTU groups, local chapters, and columns by Ohio WCTU officers.
Arranged in no particular order.
Contains a large number of pamphlets promoting the WCTU and attacking alcohol and drugs.
Arranged alphabetically by title of play.
The plays promote the WCTU, its activities, and total abstinence from alcohol.
Contains programs from WCTU local, Ohio, National and World conventions. These detail what was scheduled at these conventions and who participated.
Contains programs from WCTU meetings that detail what was scheduled and who participated in them.
Contains program guides for various years from the Ohio and National WCTU. These guides give suggestions for the program of the monthly meetings of local WCTU groups during a given year.
SIGNS AND POSTERS--WCTU
Arranged in no particular order.
Includes signs and posters that promote the WCTU, WCTU events, and attack drinking and smoking.
Arranged alphabetically by title of song or booklet.
The songs contained in this series promote the WCTU and are religious in nature.
Contains two black and white photographs of gatherings of WCTU members taken at Lakeside, Ohio.
- Minutes--WCTU Meetings, 1932-1949
- Minutes--WCTU Meetings, 1951-1969
- Membership Lists--WCTU, 1935-1958
- Correspondence--WCTU (Outgoing), 1936-1958
- Correspondence--WCTU (Incoming), 1931-1943
- Correspondence--WCTU (Incoming), 1944-1947
- Correspondence--WCTU (Incoming), 1948-1963
- Sara Berlekamp Smith--Correspondence (Outgoing), 1952-1963
- Sara Berlekamp Smith--Correspondence (Incoming), 1917-1949
- Sara Berlekamp Smith--Correspondence (Incoming), 1950-1964
- Sara Berlekamp Smith--Correspondence (Incoming), n.d.
- Sara Berlekamp Smith--Church Papers, 1918-1952
- Sara Berlekamp Smith--Farm Financial Reports, 1948-1954
- Sara Berlekamp Smith--Farm Financial Reports, 1955-1959
- Sara Berlekamp Smith--Newspaper Clippings, n.d.
- Sara Berlekamp Smith--Miscellaneous Printed Material, n.d.
- Sara Berlekamp Smith--Positive Prints, 1906-1947
- Convention Reports--WCTU, 1931-1953
- Financial Reports--WCTU, 1935-1957
- Literature Reports--WCTU, 1951-1957
- Organizers Reports--WCTU, 1949-1955
- Lectures--WCTU (Sara Berlekamp Smith), 1929-1940
- Lectures--WCTU (Sara Berlekamp Smith), 1942-1950, n.d.
- Poetry--WCTU, n.d.
- Financial Statements--WCTU, 1941-1954
- Receipts--WCTU, 1936-1962
- Newspaper Clippings--WCTU, 1937-1962, n.d.
- Booklets--WCTU, 1930-1955
- Bulletins--National WCTU, 1949-1959
- Bulletins--World WCTU, 1949-1958
- Certificates and Awards--WCTU, n.d.
- Contest Material--WCTU, n.d.
- Flyers--WCTU, n.d.
- Handbills--WCTU, n.d.
- Handbills--WCTU (Plans of Work), 1936-1959
- Journals--National WCTU, 1944-1952
- Journals--Ohio WCTU, 1941-1957
- Pamphlets--WCTU, n.d.
- Pamphlets--WCTU, n.d.
- Plays--WCTU, n.d.
- Programs--WCTU Conventions, 1928-1957
- Programs--WCTU Meetings, 1929-1956
- Program Guides--WCTU, 1937-1961
- Signs and Posters--WCTU, n.d.
- Songs--WCTU, n.d.
- Positive Prints--WCTU, 1935, n.d.
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