January Temperance

Many of us are attempting to have a ‘dry’ January in order to recover from the last month’s festivities, so we thought we’d show the variety of temperance records that we hold within the archive – and this post will show both ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ campaign materials!

Our Scottish Temperance League collection has many interesting examples of temperance propaganda. The league was formed in Glasgow in 1844, first residing at 108 Hope Street, and later at 226 West George Street. They published various educational tracts, pamphlets and other printed material in an effort to educate the electorate about the dangers of alcohol. The committee produced guides to objecting licenses and even published their own newsletter named League Journal, established in 1857. Below is an example of a leaflet produced by the group entitled ‘How to Object a License’. The leaflet laid out what the license laws were at the time, and the appendix even had draft letter templates that campaigners could use to help them object to licenses in their area:

DC019-1-4-2 How To Object a License Letter

‘How To Object a License’, 1940 – DC19/1/4/2

The League Journal laid out the many reasons why they thought temperance was the best option for Britain. The poem below, published in 1918, entitled ‘A Voice From The Corn’, highlights how food shortages of the time were a reason why many people were keen for the country to go dry. As food supply had already been disrupted by war, supporters of temperance saw no reason why young people should be ‘denied their supplies of sugar and sweets when the beer drinkers can get plenty.’

DC019-1-4 League Journal

League Journal extract, 1918 – GUAS: DC19/1/3/6

Within the Scottish Temperance League collection, we also have examples of much more emotive temperance propaganda. The book The Whiskey Demon: Or, The Dream Of The Reveller follows the fate of the reveller, who is destined to end up in jail, the poor house or the lever house if he does not change his ways:

DC019-1-4-1 page

The Whiskey Demon or the Dream of the Reveller by Charles Mackay LLD, 1860 -GUAS: DC19/1/4/1

In addition to our ‘dry’ collections, we have a variety of material produced by the anti-temperance movement, some of which is located within our William Younger & Co Ltd collection. Anti-temperance campaigners often couched the debate in terms of personal freedom. The illustrations below refer to William Eugene “Pussyfoot” Johnson, an infamous American prohibition advocate. He toured the UK between the wars to spread the temperance message, and was met with a large amount of resentment from the public. Many saw his visit as unnecessary foreign interference, and anti-temperance campaigners jumped on this negative public opinion. Below is a gallery of some of our ‘wet’ campaign materials (note how the issue of sugar is used by both sides!):

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If our temperance collections have sparked your interest and you would like to see what else we hold, have a look through our source guide. If you’d like to see the collections in person, please email the Archivist to book an appointment.



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