Document 3: Newspaper Clipping,
Spring 18981

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This selection is another newspaper clipping found in the W.C.T.U minute book. Although it is not dated, references within the article suggest that it was published sometime during the spring of 1898. After providing a brief summary of recent Oberlin W.C.T.U endeavors, which included a plan to send delegates to the district temperance convention in nearby Rochester, Ohio, the article relates how the Union presented Mrs. Stover with a mailbag of well-wishing letters before her departure to Africa.

Many of Oberlin's overseas connections were forged by missionary work. The Oberlin Theological School produced generations of ministers eager to pursue evangelical ventures. These men and their wives created a network that connected the Oberlin community to the far reaches of the globe. Mrs. Stover, who traveled between Oberlin and her mission center in Africa throughout her life, exemplified this all-encompassing vision of reform via international collaboration.

Document Text:

Apple blossoms and the national colors suggested spring and war-time in the chapel of the First Congregational Church Wednesday afternoon, and the large attendance indicated a growing interest on the part of Oberlin women in the live topics discussed at these gatherings.2 The routine business included the appointment of delegates to district and county conventions to be held at Rochester, May 26 and 27,3 report of the committee on relief work in Cuba,4 collected and appropriation of money for Temperance Hospital in Chicago,5 and the reading by Mrs. Case of a personal letter from Miss Anna Gordon.6 To this was added the reception of service for the sixteen new members received during the last three months, the total membership being now 95.


After the completion of the programs, a pleasant feature followed in the presenting to Mrs. Stover7 by the Oberlin W.T.C.U, of a "mail-bag" filled with letters from Oberlin friends, to be read, as Mrs. Durfee8 said in her graceful speech of presentation, on the most tedious part of her long journey to her distant home in Africa. We should always remember, Mrs. Durfee said, her earnest words and hearty cooperation in our efforts for the uplifting of humanity, and our love and prayers follow her. The handsome bag of blue stain, prepared by Mrs. Burroughs and artistically decorated by Miss Kennedy, was itself a beautiful memento of Oberlin associations and was accepted as such by Mrs. Stover in a few appreciative and heartfelt words. To what had been said concerning the value of the Sabbath and the need of keeping it as indeed a "holy day," she added her strong conviction that only by careful observance can we commend the service of the Lord of the Sabbath to those who are coming out of heathenism, watch us as exemplars of all that Christianity means.9

[1] Transcribed by Hanna Van Reed.

[2] Although this newspaper clipping is undated, the reference to "spring and war-time" likely place it in the spring of 1898. This is also the year Mrs. Stover departed for her missionary work.

[3] Beginning in 1853 (although suspended during the Civil War), women's temperance advocates attempted to hold annual conventions in Rochester to coordinate the efforts of Unions throughout the country.

[4] After Cuba was proclaimed a protectorate of the United States in 1898, the Cuban War for Independence was transformed into the Spanish-American War. Thousands of Cuban families were made homeless and destitute by the conflict, encouraging W.C.T.U. members to become involved with the Central Relief Committee, providing bedding, clothing, and medical supplies to refugees. The Tampa W.C.T.U appealed to its sister organizations for assistance, and Unions throughout the country responded with donations.

[5] The Frances E. Willard National Temperance Hospital in Chicago was opened in 1905 from funds collected by Unions across the country along with outside contributions. The hospital forbade the use of any alcoholic medication, distinguishing it from contemporary organizations. Additionally, the hospital was administered exclusively by women; the board of directors, the officers, the house physician and all employed on the place were female.

[6] Anna Adams Gordon (1853-193) was Frances Willard's lifetime companion and Willard's personal secretary during her years as the president of the national W.C.T.U. After Willard's death, Gordon became the vice-president of the W.C.T.U under president Lillian N.M. Stevens (1844-1914). In 1914, Gordon ascended to the presidency of the Union, a post which she retained until her election in 1922 as president of the World Women's Temperance Union

[7] Bertha Dodge Stover, married Rev. Wesley M. Stover, Oberlin Theological School class of 1881, on 12 June 1880. After marriage, the pair moved to Angola, West Africa, where Rev. Stover spent 38 years of service under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. In 1920, Rev. Stover's health would not permit him to remain longer in Africa, and he and Mrs. Stover returned to the United States. They lived in Claremont, California, with their only child, Miss Helen Stover, until Rev. Stover's death in 1922.

[8] Mrs. Ellen R. Greely Durfee (1854-1901), married to Rev. Charles S. Durfee.

[9] Seeing the Sabbath as the "foundation of the social structure of the state," W.C.T.U women attempted to defend the day of observance from the encroachment of modern life. They protested the extension of the workweek and the increasingly common use of railroads and steamboats for travel on Sundays. Strict Sabbath observance was one of a myriad of familial obligations that the W.C.T.U believed liquor imperiled (Report of Annual Convention of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, 1913).