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Text on Button W.C.T.U.
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Navy blue button with white graphic and blue text.

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St. Louis MO Button Co. MFRS

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The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, or WCTU, was a major organization for the Women’s Suffrage movement. Founded in November of 1874 in Cleveland, Ohio, WCTU aimed to advocate for suffrage, labor laws, prison reform, and temperance. The white ribbon bow on many of WCTU’s memorabilia symbolized purity. Their headquarters were in Chicago, Illinois but there were local chapters in different states. These local chapters were called “unions”. Among the members were Annie Wittenmyer, as president, and Frances Willard as corresponding secretary. However, in 1879 Frances Willard became president until her death in 1898.

Frances Willard’s involvement in WCTU made for one of the most influential and prominent women’s organizations during the 19th century. Willard was born in 1839 in upstate New York to a middle class, Christian family. When Willard was growing up her family moved first to Ohio, then to Wisconsin, before finally settling in a suburb of Chicago called Evanston. Willard’s work with WCTU included a policy in which she called the “Do Everything” policy. This policy entailed that members advocate for temperance education and legislative mandates for local, state, and national prohibition. Willard linked both the temperance movement and the women’s suffrage movement through determination and passion.

Today, The World WCTU still advocates for temperance education and Christian values. There are six departments within WWCTU: Christian Outreach, Education, Home Protection, Social Service, Children, and Youth.


Bohlmann, R. E. (N.d.). Frances E. Willard and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. http://publications.newberry.org/faith-in-the-city/essays/frances-e-wil…

Frances Willard House. (N.d.). History of WCTU. https://franceswillardhouse.org/frances-willard/history-of-wctu/

History.com. (2018). Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. https://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/womans-christian-temperan…

PBS. (N.d.). People & Ideas: Frances Willard. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/godinamerica/people/frances-wi…

World Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. (N.d.). “About Us.” http://www.wwctu.org/index.html

Catalog ID CL0626