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Image Collection from the NSW Women's Christian Temperance Union office, 1882-1990

TLF ID M001245

This is a banner from the former office of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) of NSW. The banner has a royal blue background with gold tassels on the scalloped lower edge. On the top are five loops for hanging the banner. Painted in gold on the banner is: ' CHRISTIAN / TEMPERANCE UNION / SYDNEY / BRANCH / ORGANISED / 1882 / "BE STRONG, AND WORK, / FOR I AM WITH YOU" / HAGGAI 2.4'. At the left is painted in white a posy of flowers tied with a ribbon. Other items in the collection include photographs, trophies, honour boards, badges and banners.

Educational details

Educational value
  • The Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was founded in 1874 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. The organisation is dedicated to eliminating the consumption of alcohol. In 1879 Frances Willard (1839-98) became the WCTU's national president, and broadened the organisation's aims to include prison reform, the 'moral reform' of prostitutes, child welfare and, most significantly, women's suffrage.
  • In the 19th century women's public roles were largely restricted to churches and charities. Under the leadership of Frances Willard, the WCTU made political organisation an essential means of achieving religious and moral goals, enshrined in their motto: 'For God, Home and Humanity', which dissolved the distinction between public and domestic life.
  • The first branch of the WCTU in Australia was formed at the Temperance Hall on Pitt Street, Sydney, in 1882. Earlier temperance movements in Australia had focused primarily on securing individual pledges and conversions. Through political lobbying and public campaigns, the WCTU of NSW succeeded in reforming the liquor licensing laws and in 1891 was instrumental in having the first bill for women's suffrage introduced into the NSW parliament. In 1902 NSW women were among the first in the world to gain the right to vote.
  • The WCTU was attracted to the suffrage cause largely due to its potential in achieving temperance aims. In the decade following 1902, women voters supported 'wowser' law, which restricted the sale of alcohol, gambling and sex. The high point of the WCTU's influence was the introduction of 6 o'clock hotel closing in 1916 and its defence of this measure until 1955. The WCTU was unable to achieve its goal of total prohibition, despite a 1928 referendum on the issue.
  • As well as suffrage and temperance-related issues, the WCTU of NSW was active in a wide variety of campaigns and charities, including women's hostels, hospitals and baby health centres. In recent years its membership has declined considerably. However, the WCTU holds considerable property assets, and in 2008 re-launched itself as a foundation rather than as a volunteer-run union.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Powerhouse Museum
  • Organization: Powerhouse Museum
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: NSW, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Curriculum Corporation and Trustees of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences 2010 (except where otherwise indicated). You may view, display, print out, copy and modify this material for non-commercial educational purposes provided you retain all acknowledgements associated with the material.