This collection consists of records from the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) of Illinois at the state, county, and local level. Bound volumes of records, mostly containing meeting minutes, comprise the bulk of the collection. Also included are two dozen handbooks that were published by the Illinois or National W.C.T.U. between 1907 and 1965.
The Illinois W.C.T.U was founded in Bloomington, Illinois in 1874 with the aim of promoting total abstinence from alcohol. In the decades that followed, county and local unions were established across the state. As members, women pledged total abstinence "from all intoxicating liquors as a beverage" as well as promising not to support the use, production, or sale of such alcoholic beverages. They worked to change local, state, and national laws, educate the youth and others, and provide social pressure for promoting the cause of total abstinence. However, their work was not strictly limited to temperance efforts. They were also involved in social welfare issues, including labor laws and workers' rights, prison reform, women's suffrage, and promoting peace and arbitration, as well as evangelism, missionary support, and Christian education.
The bulk of this collection consists of records from local unions based in Champaign, Charleston, Rockford, Springfield, Sterling, and Urbana. The local unions typically met once or twice a month to plan and discuss events and activities, to learn about various temperance issues, and for devotions, including singing and scripture readings. The collection contains secretary's books summarizing these meetings for the local unions in Charleston, Rockford, Springfield, Sterling, and Urbana, and treasurer's books with financial records for the Champaign W.C.T.U. Both types of record books often contain lists of members, and secretary's books frequently include a copy of the constitution and by-laws as well.
Records of annual conventions for the W.C.T.U. of Tazewell County and the state of Illinois are also included in the collection. Local unions sent delegates to annual conventions at the county, district, or state level. Annual conventions include devotions, addresses, reports from departments, leadership, and county or local unions, elections, and other business. The records for the Illinois W.C.T.U. include minutes from Board of Directors and Board of Trustees meetings and a record book for the Medal Contest Department as well.
Both the Illinois and National W.C.T.U. published small handbooks to aid local unions and individual members in understanding the principles, history, and structure of the organization. The collection includes seventeen state handbooks published between 1910 and 1965 and seven national handbooks published between 1907 and 1959.
The Library purchased this collection in 2002.