Jessie Forsyth (1847-1937) obituary

Ron Forsyth kindly provided me with this obituary

Western Mail 10 November 1937


The Late Miss Jessie Forsyth.

"RECENTLY there passed on to higher service one of the veteran social welfare workers in Western Australia" writes the secretary of the Women's Christian Temperance Union when paying tribute on behalf of the organisation to the late Miss Jessie Forsyth who, for the past 70 years, devoted her time to the service of others. Born in England 90 years ago, the late Miss Forsyth went first to America where she took up temperance work, editing two publications. Coming to Western Australia she continued this work and founded "Dawn" for the Fremantle Women's Service Guild who later handed over the publication to the care of the State executive. Miss Forsyth was also associated with the "White Ribbon," the official organ of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, in which organisation she took an active interest, holding in turn the positions of superintendent of the "Sailors' Rest," Fremantle, State corresponding secretary and State president, ultimately being made a life member. It was due to the influence of Miss Forsyth at the triennial convention in Adelaide in 1916 that the next convention was held in Perth. For over 60 years Miss Forsyth was a member of the International Order of Good Templars, holding various offices including those of International Grand Vice-templar and Grand International superintendent of juvenile work. Miss Forsyth was known to those with whom she came in contact as a woman with the courage of her convictions, a lover of young people, a staunch friend and a tireless worker for the good of humanity."

Posted by David Fahey on November 19, 2010 at 08:16 AM in Australia, Britain, Temperance, United States | Permalink

Drink and temperance in Oxford, Ohio

Newspaper article that looks at drink and temperance in Oxford, Ohio, beginning with its first tavern in 1816.

Posted by David Fahey on November 12, 2010 at 06:16 PM in Alcohol (general), Drinking Spaces, Prohibition, Temperance | Permalink

"Temperance Work Essentials" (1912)

Ron Forsyth recently provided me with the text of an essay published in an Australian newspaper,  the Western Mail, 7 Sept 1912.  It was written by Jessie Forsyth (1847-1937), a temperance reformer particularly identified with the Good Templar fraternal society.  Born in London to a family of Scottish descent, she relocated to New England as a young woman for reasons of health.  In old age, she moved to Western Australia where her only relations lived.  It was there that she wrote this essay.  Living another quarter century, she was active in the Australian temperance movement for several years.


The following extracts are taken from a paper read by [Jessie] Forsyth, the superintendent of the Sailors' Rest at Fremantle, the subject of the paper being the essentials for successful temperance work. [Miss] Forsyth has herself spent many years in temperance and general social reform work in the Commonwealth and distant parts of the world.

"A few years ago I was asked to state briefly what I considered the essentials for successful temperance work, and I made my reply in three words, 'Consecration, education, agitation.'

"It is well that we should pray, with faith, with earnestness, with fervour. But our prayers should be for strength to  acquit ourselves nobly in the battle; for knowledge that we may learn where to strike effectively, and for patience that we may never lose heart or become discouraged. And when we have prayed for these gifts, let us go forth resolved to bear a worthy part in the conflict. Let us rejoice in remembering that we are workers together with God and do our work faithfully as becomes true followers and servants. The spiritual uplift and refreshment which comes to us when we unite together in prayer is sometimes so satisfying that we forget the purpose which has called us together. We lose sight of the sin, the suffering, and wrong which exist and against which we are called to fight. While we enjoy the blessings poured out on us let us not fail to do our part in extending these blessings to all mankind. The only real blessing that we have a right to expect is the incentive and the strength for more zealous labour. My plea, therefore, is not for less prayer, but for more practical work as a result of prayer. Let us seek to be consecrated for service, real, true, untiring service. Let us be devoted, indeed, with a flaming fire of devotion to the cause. Then shall our devotional exercises not be barren of results."

Posted by David Fahey on November 7, 2010 at 10:51 AM in Temperance | Permalink

British temperance periodicals (chapter)

Researchers should not overlook a relatively old contribution to temperance bibliography, the chapter on temperance periodicals by Olwen C. Niessen in J. Don Vann and Rosemary T. VanArsdel, eds., Victorian Periodicals and Society (University of Toronto Press, 1994).

Posted by David Fahey on November 5, 2010 at 03:11 PM in Britain, Temperance | Permalink

Prehistory of alcohol deregulation in Australia (article)

Robin Room, "The Long Reaction against the Wowser: The Prehistory of Alcohol Deregulation in Australia," Health Society Review (June 2010).

Posted by David Fahey on October 29, 2010 at 06:36 PM in Alcohol (general), Australia, Temperance | Permalink

Protestant binge-drinking countries seek to impose solutions for their problems on others (article)

Stanton Peele, "Alcohol as Evil--Temperance and Policy," Addiction Research and Theory 18/4 (August 2010): 374-382.  Protestant countries that combine binge-drinking with otherwise low alcohol consumption seek to impose solutions designed for their peculiar problems on other countries.


Posted by David Fahey on October 21, 2010 at 10:14 PM in Alcohol (general), Temperance | Permalink

Brothers of a Vow

This is the title of a new book by Dr. Ami Pflugrad-Jackisch (WGS Dept. at UM-Flint) subtitled "Secret Fraternal Orders and the Transformation of White Male Culture in Antebellum Virginia".  Much about the Sons of Temperance is included.  The introduction starts with:

    On a warm evening in June, 1847, Nelson Rodgers, a thirty-seven-year-old butcher from Harrisonburg, Virginia, stood outside the antechamber door of the local Sons of Temperance lodge.  He heard three soft raps, and then the door swung open to reveal...

Published 2010, by University of Georgia Press

Posted by Dave Trippel on October 12, 2010 at 01:55 PM in Books, Temperance, United States | Permalink

Insurance and fraternal temperance societies

The story about the Sons of  Temperance dropping its insurance business is a reminder that part of the appeal of the Good Templars (founded a few years after the Sons) was a lack of insurance.  This made the new organization willing to admit the elderly and others who were poor health risks.  The Good Templars also argued that a material incentive to join a temperance organization was wrong in principle.  Despite this, various regional Good Templar societies toyed with offering insurance.  In the nineteenth century a majority of fraternal societies, temperance and general, provided insurance, not always on a sound financial basis that guaranteed benefits to  members when they needed them.

Posted by David Fahey on October 10, 2010 at 09:30 AM in Temperance | Permalink

168 Year Old "Sons of Temperance" Readies to Make a Landmark Change

Three years ago the Sons of Temperance Friendly Society "ceased the effecting of new long term business" which means they stopped offering new insurance to members, but they still have many existing policyholders.

At a Special General Meeting a few weeks ago in Warwickshire, UK, their membership "approved a radical scheme of reorganisation ."  Next year, "At the 2011 AGM [Annual General Meeting], members will be asked to adopt a new set of rules reflecting the society's new circumstances." Simply stated, the Sons will cash out their assets and terminate any future insurance payouts.

From its formation in 1842, in New York City as a "Beneficial Society based on Total Abstinence" (from its founding call) members were required to pay insurance premiums.  Today their present total assets are over £3,000,000 and their membership is under 6,000 people, almost all residing in the UK.  £500,000 is planned to be held over to run the reorganized 'Sons' with the remainder to be distributed to members who bought and still hold policies, many of whom cannot be located.

Immediately upon organizing in September, 1842, the Sons acquired the procedures and regalia prominent to the Odd Fellows and Masons. Today these trappings are long gone.  But it will not be until next year that the Sons of Temperance plans to finally end its charter purpose as a "Beneficial Society" which was also originally intended to distinguish it from the unprecedented proto-populistic Washingtonian total abstinence movement that surged into New York in March, 1841.

Nevertheless, in a perspective of institutional purpose and evolution, it might be shown that today's 12 step movement, which has never offered monetary benefits from dues paying, has more in common with the Sons of Temperance movement than it does with the Washingtonian Total Abstinence movement.

Posted by Dave Trippel on October 6, 2010 at 01:40 PM in Temperance, United Kingdom | Permalink

Lucy Thurman and the black temperance movement

Lucinda "Lucy" (Smith) Thurman, 1849-1918, best known as a civil rights activist, began her work on behalf of the African American community as a temperance reformer.  Born in Canada, she moved to Michigan, and worked among black women in nearby Toledo, Ohio, during the Women's Temperance Crusade in 1874.   After a ten-year campaign, she persuaded the WCTU to open a National Department of Colored Work.  She was appointed its superintendent in 1893 and served in the office for seventeen years.  For more, see

Posted by David Fahey on October 3, 2010 at 07:54 PM in Temperance | Permalink