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Canadian Review of American Studies 1992Special Issue, Part II 309 Transnational History: Temperance Women and the World RobertA. Hohner Ian Tyrrell. Woman's World/Woman's Empire: The Woman's Christian Temperance Union in International Perspective, 1880-1930. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991. xiii + 381 pp. In the American Historical Review of October 1991, Ian Tyrrell offered a provocative critique of American exceptionalism and called for a new approach to historical analysis. The new genre, which he labels "transnational history," would employ a comparative blend of the local, the national, and the international. This broader perspective, appropriate to an increasingly interconnected world, would thus transcend the parochial boundaries of national historiography. Byviewingeventsin an international framework, he argues, historians may illuminate interconnections which remain neglected or obscured when studied in the isolation of national contexts. Tyrrell himself has now put his internationalist precepts into practice, demonstrating convincinglyin this compelling book the utility of such a broader conception of historical writing. As he points out, an international approach is particularly appropriate to the study of organizations, ideologies , and movements. The women's Christian temperance crusade of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is therefore especiallysuited to transnational history. 310 Canadian Review of American Studies The temperance movement has become a growth industry for historians in the last three decades. A phenomenon once ridiculed as the province of fanatics and cranks has now been taken seriously as a major effort to reform the excesses of modern industrial society. Among the chief works in this reassessment are the studies by James H. Timberlake, Prohibition and the ProgressiveMovement (1963),Norman H. Clark,Deliver UsFrom Evil (1976), K. Austin Kerr, Organized for Prohibition (1985), and the writings of Jack S. Blocker, Jr., including his recent synthesis,American Temperance Movements (1989). In addition, the contributions of women to temperance reform have been explored in Blocker's study of the women's crusade of 1873-74, Give to the Winds Thy Fears (1985), and in the books of Ruth Bordin, Women and Temperance (1981) and Frances Willard (1986). As a result of such works, and a growing body of other national studies of women and temperance, the role of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) as the major women's organization of the late nineteenth century is now widely recognized. Under the dynamic leadership of Frances Willard, the most famous American woman of her time, the WCTU engaged in a broad spectrum of reform activities, including suffrage, dress reform, the peace movement, and the "social purity" crusade against prostitution and the sexual exploitation of women. In the pursuit of these and related causes, the WCTU became the largest and most influential women's organization in America, surpassing the suffrage movement in importance and providing a vehicle for women's liberation, both public and domestic. Until now, however, historians have overlooked the union's international activities, an important and revealing aspect of American cultural imperialism. In this insightful study, Tyrrell significantly enriches our understanding of the ideology of temperance women and their activities abroad. He thus fills an important gap in our knowledge, both of the temperance movement and the expanding American cultural presence around the world. Tyrrell is particularly well qualified to engage in such a comparative and international study. Senior lecturer in history at the University of New South Wales, he is an Australian who received his doctoral training in the United States, at Duke University. Author of an important book on the early temperance movement, Sobering Up (1979), he brings a sympathetic but critical and independent perspective to his work. Woman's World/ RobertA. HohnerI 311 Woman's Empire is based on exhaustive research in archives in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia. This massive effort includes digging in such scattered sources as the Woman's Christian Temperance Union files, at WCTU headquarters in Evanston, Illinois; the papers of Rosalind Stanley Howard, Countess of Carlisle, at Castle Howard in Yorkshire, England; the Josephine Butler Papers, at the City of London Polytechnic, also in England; the Mary H. Hunt Papers, at the New York Public Library; the Hannah Clark Bailey Papers, at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania; and the Jessie A. Ackerman...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 309-315
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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