These days, my research takes me to the Morgan County Courthouse to explore nineteenth century legal records. As a historian trained in researching late-20th century America, this is unfamiliar territory. To learn the ropes, I turned to my friend Kathy. Not only does she possess an encyclopedic knowledge of Morgan County history, she is a seasoned genealogist with a knack for navigating complicated legal and municipal documents (she even teaches a course on genealogy at our local community college). Continue reading
In our final installment on the Temperance War of Spring 1874, we’ll consider the identities of the women who participated in the Woman’s Temperance Crusade. You will not be shocked to learn they were primarily white, educated, middle class women with some social standing and extensive social networks in Jacksonville. Of course they were. But what was their experience like, and who did they exclude from their crusade?
Last week, we looked at the temperance education curriculum at the Jacksonville Female Academy. This week, we’ll consider the first two weeks of the activism that led to the adoption of that curriculum. On Monday, March 16, 1874, a headline in the Jacksonville Daily Journal announced, “The Temperance Crusade: The Ladies Organized and the Assault Commenced.” Jacksonville, it seems, was under attack. But no one, neither the foot solders nor those under siege knew quite what to make of it.
In May 1874, May Dummer wrote to her brother, Frank, that Jacksonville women were embroiled in a “Temperance War.” This week and next we’ll explore that war and its rhetoric, beginning with women’s scientific temperance education. While at the Watkinson Library in Hartford, CT, I focused on the Henry Barnard Textbook Collection to better understand the JFA curriculum. From the catalogs, it appears that the women had fairly advanced studies in literature, languages, and science. The textbooks told a different story. Continue reading