The temperance movement was the largest single organizing force for women in American history, uniting and empowering women seeking to enact social change. By the end of the century, more than two hundred thousand women had become members of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), and numerous others belonged to smaller temperance organizations. Despite the impact of the movement, its literature has been largely neglected.
In this collection of nineteen temperance tales, Carol Mattingly has recovered and revalued previously unavailable writing by women. Mattingly’s introduction provides a context for these stories, locating the pieces within the temperance movement as well as within larger issues in women’s studies.
The temperance movement was essential to women’s awareness of and efforts to change gender inequalities in the United States during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In their fiction, temperance writers protested physical and emotional abuse at the hands of men, argued for women’s rights, addressed legal concerns, such as divorce and child custody, and denounced gender-biased decisions affecting the care and rights of children. Temperance fiction by women broadens our understanding of the connections between women’s rights and temperance, while shedding light on women’s thinking and behavior in the nineteenth century.
Water Drops from Women Writers
features biographical sketches of each writer as well as thirteen illustrations.