Document 10: “Corresponding Secretary’s Report: Colorado,” Minutes of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, at the Eighteenth Annual Meeting, Boston, Mass., November 13th to 18th, 1891, with Addresses, Reports, and Constitution (Chicago: Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association, 1891), pp. 241-42, Frances Willard Memorial Library, Evanston, Illinois.
By the early 1890s, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in Colorado was a force to be reckoned with. This report from Colorado illustrated the breadth, depth, and impact of the W.C.T.U.’s efforts.
Colorado.--Has fifty-five Unions, membership 850; ten Young Women’s Unions have 175 members; the Y’s have 125 honorary members. Six free reading rooms, one Woman’s Exchange and restaurant and one Y exchange and restaurant are sustained. License is the law of the State[A] . Money raised by local Unions from all sources $1,233.03; paid to the National $85. Seven counties are organized and about ten county conventions have been held. The W.C.T.U. honorary members number seventy-five. The school suffrage is used to place women on the school boards. The following I take entirely from the report: “Our work has been presented by our President before two district Teachers’ Institute and by others before other district Institutes; by Mrs. Craise, State Superintendent of Scientific Temperance Instruction, before the State Teachers’ Institute and before various educators, with favorable results, and before several Methodist conferences; in an able paper before the State Teachers’ Sunday-school Association. Temperance addresses were given on ‘Watermelon Day’ at Rocky Ford.
“We petitioned that a man of acknowledged Christian character be placed as warden over the State penitentiary, and that a matron be provided for the female prisoners. The age of consent has been raised from ten to fifteen years and the cigarette law passed. A mass meeting of women was held at Denver and the Legislature visited and petitioned to enact the fifty feet limit from churches and schoolhouses. An effort has been made in many places to bring about Sunday closing. The best daily papers of Pueblo and Denver have been open to us, for reports of our work and remonstrances of various kinds. During the latter part of September and first of October, Mary T. Lathrap, has been fulfilling a lecture engagement with us. She will speak eighteen times and we could have made many more engagements for her, but her stay with us was limited. She was of great assistance to us during our State convention. We made an effort this year to raise money for the State work by personal and union pledges; $258.75, which was not so much as we had hoped, was raised this way, $100 was raised for a tablet in the Temperance Temple to Mary F. Shields[B], Colorado, lamented first president. (Perhaps it is $50, I forget the stipulated amount.) About ten new Unions have been organized, and seven new Y Unions. Our cottage home in Denver[C] has been supported largely by contributions from the local Unions. Many lines of work that we do not record this year are already planned for the coming year and well under way.”
A. This meant that saloons in Colorado needed to have a license to operate.
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B. Mary Shields (birth/death dates unknown), first president and state spokeswoman of the Colorado W.C.T.U., also helped found the Colorado Woman Suffrage Association in 1876.
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C. The Colorado W.C.T.U. opened the Colorado Cottage Home for unwed mothers in 1888.
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