Happy Spring Forest County Residents!
I had briefly mentioned the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in an earlier blog post but I would like to revisit the subject because of a book that was found recently. There was a hand written inscription in the cover of the Louisa M. Alcott book “Eight Cousins” published in 1902 found in the library. The cover informs us that the book was given as first prize in the 1907 Forest County Fair to Helen Andrews in the category of essay on the effects of alcohol by a child over ten years. This book is historically significant for a few reasons. First, it is signed by Fannie VanZile, one of the first pioneers to live in Crandon. Her husband served in several prestigious positions in Crandon’s history. Fannie was also an important historical figure as President of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, member of the Eastern Star, Women’s Relief Corps, Royal Neighbors, and Workers of the Presbyterian Church (Forest Republican 1955). Secondly, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union had a significant affect on our nation’s history. Currently, the WCTU is the oldest voluntary, non-sectarian woman’s organization in continuous existence on the planet. Before women had the right to vote this group gave them a voice in the political sphere and allowed them to make positive social changes. The WCTU helped establish: shelters for abused women and children, eight hour work day, equal pay for equal work, founding of kindergartens, federal aid for education, women’s right to vote, penalties for sexual crimes, uniform marriage and divorce laws, pure drug and food act, and many more positive changes (http://www.wctu.org/earlyhistory.html). Locally, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union had a large impact on the regularization of alcohol consumption in the county as well as educational reforms. It just goes to show that you never know what you will find in your local library!