Paper Title

[1.3] “Alcohol is a Poison”: Textbooks, Temperance, and Women’s Rights in late 19th Century British Columbia

Location

IB 1007

Start Date

January 2020

End Date

January 2020

Disciplines

History

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

The BC Historical Textbooks Collection, at the University of Victoria McPherson Library, is the subject of a digital archiving project. The collection documents the materials used in the early British Columbia education system. One such book in the collection, the 1896 Gage’s Health Series, Book II, a textbook for high school students, heavily emphasizes abstinence from alcohol as a physiological and moral prerequisite for healthy living. My research contextualizes the book within contemporary political activities of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Local Council of Women. The latter was a Victoria BC organization which focused on promoting women’s rights to the BC Provincial Government. At the time Gage’s Health Series, Book II was published, the Local Council of Women pushed for the inclusion of women on school boards. This was done to put pro-temperance activists on school boards throughout BC, ultimately to include temperance in the BC curriculum. Given the temperance movement’s connection to Canada’s broader settler-colonial/Anglo-Saxon nation-building project, this textbook demonstrates an attempt at including an assimilationist policy in the early BC curriculum.

Comments

Keywords: alcohol, temperance, women’s rights, education, British Columbia history, archival research, British Columbia politics, Women’s Christian Temperance Movement, Local Council of Women

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Jan 17th, 1:00 PM Jan 17th, 2:15 PM

[1.3] “Alcohol is a Poison”: Textbooks, Temperance, and Women’s Rights in late 19th Century British Columbia

IB 1007

The BC Historical Textbooks Collection, at the University of Victoria McPherson Library, is the subject of a digital archiving project. The collection documents the materials used in the early British Columbia education system. One such book in the collection, the 1896 Gage’s Health Series, Book II, a textbook for high school students, heavily emphasizes abstinence from alcohol as a physiological and moral prerequisite for healthy living. My research contextualizes the book within contemporary political activities of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Local Council of Women. The latter was a Victoria BC organization which focused on promoting women’s rights to the BC Provincial Government. At the time Gage’s Health Series, Book II was published, the Local Council of Women pushed for the inclusion of women on school boards. This was done to put pro-temperance activists on school boards throughout BC, ultimately to include temperance in the BC curriculum. Given the temperance movement’s connection to Canada’s broader settler-colonial/Anglo-Saxon nation-building project, this textbook demonstrates an attempt at including an assimilationist policy in the early BC curriculum.