Welcome, and thanks for visiting the official site of the
The Woman's Christian Temperance Union.
"Agitate - Educate - Legislate."
to the saloons to ask the owners to close their establishments.
was organized by women who were concerned about the destructive power of alcohol and the problems it was causing their families and society.
They met in churches to pray and then marched
These activities are often referred to as the "Women's Crusades" and their success was both the forerunner and impetus for the founding of the WCTU. For more about the Crusades,
WCTU members chose total abstinence from all alcohol as their life style and they adopted this definition of temperance:
Temperance may be defined as:
moderation in all things healthful;
total abstinence from all things harmful.
- Xenophon (Greek philosopher), c. 400 BCE
Mrs. Annie Turner Wittenmyer
First National President (1874-1879)
In the summer of 1874 at Chautauqua, New York, organizational discussions were held by the women determined to act against the ravages of alcohol. They decided to hold a national convention that fall in
Cleveland and the WCTU was formed. Mrs. Annie Wittenmyer was elected president; Miss Frances E. Willard, corresponding secretrary; Mrs. Mary
Johnson, recording secretary; and Mrs. Mary Ingham, treasurer.
Among the WCTU's primary objectives in temperance reform was "protection of the home." The slogan "For God and Home and Native Land" (later changed to "Every Land") expressed the WCTU's priorities. Through education and example the WCTU obtained pledges of total abstinence from alcohol, and later also tobacco and other drugs. The white ribbon bow was selected to symbolize purity, and the WCTU's watchwords were, as they are today:
For more about the early history of the WCTU, CLICK HERE.
The most famous member and second president of the WCTU was Frances E. Willard who served from 1879 until her death in 1898.
An advocate for women and for many causes beyond temperance, Ms. Willard was not only the most famous president of the WCTU, but the most famous 19th century woman in America, and perhaps the world.
For more about Frances E. Willard, follow this LINK.
Frances E. Willard|
Second National President
Today the WCTU is the oldest voluntary, non-sectarian woman's organization in continuous existence in the world. The WCTU is a founding member (1888) of the National Council for Women (Frances Willard was its first president) and the International Council of Women in 1893. It is also a charter member (1945) of the United Nations Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO). For more than 135 years the WCTU has trained women to think on their feet, speak in public, and run an organization.
The WCTU's long history of activism and advocacy for women continues. To view a short (8-minute)video of the WCTU in the 21st Century, CLICK HERE.
We invite you to visit our History section for more information about the "Women's Crusades," early WCTU history and brief Biographies of WCTU's fourteen presidents.
The site also offers a Timeline with a very brief listing of important dates and events in WCTU history. To begin your tour, start HERE.
New and News! Learn about upcoming events, new projects, and the latest educational materials and how to get them.
informed about current concerns and how you can be involved.
the roots of the oldest continuing woman's organization which began in 1874.
Stand up and be counted...Learn how to make your voice heard. Get information on legislative actions of interest to WCTU members.
order educational materials from Signal Press and our quarterly journal, the Union Signal, a digest of current research and information on alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
Join our great organization and be known for your stand.
Friends of WCTU
Find links to the many organizations that support the work of the WCTU.
questions, concerns, ideas? Contact us. We're always happy to hear from you.
Can't find what you're looking for? Try our site map. It outlines our
entire web site.
Victorian Gardens adjacent to the Willard House located in Evanston, Illinois. The house, where Frances Willard lived and worked from 1865 until her death in 1898, and which served as the national Headquarters of the WCTU from 1899 to 1910, has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Frances E. Willard House
The Frances Willard Historical Association, manages the Frances Willard House Museum and collections, the Frances Willard Memorial Library and Archives in the WCTU Headquarters building, and the
Tours of the Willard House and Museum are available on a reservation basis by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
or by telephone: (847) 328-7500. For more information, we invite you to visit the Historical Association's website.
The Frances E. Willard Memorial Library and Archives is in the WCTU Headquarters building located to the rear of the house and is open for research by appointment only. For more information or to make a reservation to visit the Library and Archives, please call (847) 864-1397 or FAX: (866) 503-WCTU.