Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is of a group of women marching for social justice in the Danish Parliament. That made me think of two tightly intertwined movements in the US – suffrage and temperance. The members of both groups felt they were working toward a better world for all, and in the latter part of the 19th century, the two movements tended to attract many of the same women. They wished to have many of the same rights as men, and felt that alcohol caused men to make bad decisions. If alcohol were controlled, the poor judgment of men would be diverted to good decisions and they would see that women were worthy of rights. It’s over simplified, but yes, these were the threads of propaganda at the time.

Why isn't anyone cheering?

Huh? That’s me and my friends doing a temperance march in a local history parade. We took 2nd place I think. So, back to the sepia images, ahem.

Pucker up, boys!

This is a fairly well known image that some claim is an actual temperance poster. Alas, it was made in the early 1900s, but the clothing is from the late 1800s, so it was probably made as a joke or advertisement by a bar or liquor distributor. Since the women are….rather plain looking, it wouldn’t be such a loss if a drunkard couldn’t kiss them, right?

For the love of the baby, let us vote!

Here we have a suffrage parade from 1912. Suffrage really meant more than the right to vote for women. In the beginning of the suffrage movement, women were considered the property of their husbands, had no legal rights, could not own property except under special circumstances, and couldn’t even retain custody of their children in the instance of a divorce. PLUS if the husband died, his parents had more rights over any children than the mother did! Women were not happy about it. I wouldn’t be either.

In California in the early 1900s, several suffrage and temperance bills were put before the populace for a vote. It is widely speculated that the liquor lobby was responsible for both types of bills being defeated. Interestingly, also in California, the Black Rights (rights of Negroes) workers often supported suffrage and temperance, and vice versa, because they all felt they were being oppressed. Some of the early articles about suffrage in California were published in a black-owned newspaper in San Francisco.

Well known women involved in both movements were Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Nation and Amelia Bloomer. While Anthony and Bloomer primarily worked on suffrage, Nation was known for going into bars and saloons with a hatchet and destroying the bar and its inventory. I bet she was happy in 1919 when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution passed! Oh, no she wasn’t, because she died in 1911, never having realized her dream of a complete ban on alcohol in the US.

While both Prohibition and Suffrage were passed in the US in the early 20th century, I for one am thankful Prohibition was repealed in 1933. Suffrage was the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and passed in 1920. Thankfully there hasn’t been word of a repeal.

Cheers, y'all!

15 thoughts on “Working for a better world

  1. postcardy says:

    That’s the same picture with the baby that I liked on another blog.

    Prohibition was a bad idea for many reasons. The Tea Party people remind me of the Prohibitionists, and it worries me to think of what they could force on the whole population.


  2. Mike says:

    We tell the same story – so once in a while we have the same image. I p[articularly like your final image. In Europe, women’s suffrage was often granted in the post ww1 period. There wa a shortage of marriable men and quite often women found themselves in relationhips of tender physicality with members of their own kind.

    Like postcardy, I have great problems with those that have a monopoly on morality. My experience shows that most are snivelling little deviants with an over-whelming shame


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      I have read (thought I don’t know the veracity of) about clubs in the late 19th century that catered to women who liked to dress as men. Not necessarily for a bisexual or homosexual experience, but because they longed for the freedom of dress that men enjoyed, and once dressed as such, they enjoyed the manly pursuits of gambling, drinking and all around being wastrels.


  3. gluepot says:

    A nice set of images you have chosen for this week’s theme. One of my ancestors was strong in the temperance movement – his obituary makes for an interesting read, and I suspect it was his wife who was the “driving force” in that aspect of his life.


  4. I did not realize about the children..and I would have supported Suffrage.
    During prohibition my grandfather made moonshine. He was busted by the Feds and had to spend some time in the WPA program.
    I can see where Prohibition had some plusses…drinking and driving must have been less. I have a big problem with DUI’s or DWI’s ..I think they should forfit their vehicles and have a mandatory jail sentence. It will never happen..but just think of the lives it would save:)


  5. I’ve just finished reading a novel set in that era. I don’t know how true to life it was but there seemed to be so many against it.


  6. Bob Scotney says:

    Intriguing set of pictures. I must check what we have for the suffragettes in the UK; I should have done this before posting my theme. We’ve had Denmark and the USA only so far I think.


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      There are two known tags – suffragettes and suffragists. I can’t remember which now, but one was known to embrace violence for the cause and the other despised violence. I did the research for this years ago but my poor brain can’t recall the minutiae any longer.


  7. Liz Stratton says:

    Interesting post as I was also struck by the two movements being intertwined. “George Remus, King of the Bootleggers” gives an interesting view of prohibition in Cincinnati. Old George represented himself on an insanity plea and won. Go figure! Prohibition was not popular in the Queen City and George seemed to have become somewhat of a folk hero.


  8. A good mix on the theme. Recreating people from a problem era is hard though. After watching the Ken Burns series this week on Prohibition, the reasons for it were so wrapped around other problems like women’s suffrage, that political forces collided and produced a solution that only created more serious problems. But at the time no one could understand that.


  9. Karen S. says:

    Of course those ladies in the second photo…hmmm I wonder how many men wanted to really touch their lips anyway! lol these are so great for this theme…and just cool photos!


  10. Wonderful history lesson you have given us, and you explained it so clearly. I have learned this before, but had forgotten most of it. Great post, and I love the pictures that you chose.

    Happy SS,

    Kathy M.


  11. PattyF says:

    Great post! You have some fabulous photos and the history lesson which accompanies them is both entertaining and informative. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!


  12. Alan Burnett says:

    Whatever the subject, I like the idea of people being active in support of a cause. It shows belief and involvement which can be a little absent these days. I understand over in the States people have been taking to the street more recently against the power of speculation – let us hope they share the success of their fellow protesters of 100 years ago.


  13. I like the slogan, it is funny. Alcohol messes up a lot of people very badly.


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