Women's History in the Collections

Temperance Union Quilt Temperance Union Quilt detail
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Women's Christian Temperance Union Quilt, 1904

The Women's Christian Temperance Union was formally established in 1874 after the Ohio Women's Temperance Crusade of 1873 stirred up the waning enthusiasm for the cause of prohibition. Male clergy had dominated the temperance movement since its inception in the 1820s. However, by mid-century temperance had lost prominence as a social reform, with abolition of slavery becoming the main thrust of reform movements prior to the Civil War. After the Civil War, temperance enjoyed resurgence under the coordinated efforts of reform-minded women.

Like all social reform movements, the temperance movement always needed money and fundraising quilts were a favorite method. This quilt was made by the WCTU of Schenectady, New York, in 1904. While it is not certain if this quilt was used for fundraising, it is the type that would have been created for just that purpose since a variety of women made the squares. Each block of this hexagonal signature quilt of red, white, and blue cottons contains a quote from the New Testament, such as "Repent ye for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" and "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the World."

Contributed by: Ruthanne Brod, Exhibit Planner

For questions or comments relating to this entry, contact Ruthanne Brod at rbrod@mail.nysed.gov
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