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Temperance Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Title: Temperance Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1840-1870
Quantity: 1 folder (SC)
Abstract: Assorted material relating to the temperance movement in Central New York. Includes petitions from various groups to the New York state legislature, poem, more.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Temperance movements first formed in the United States shortly after the Revolutionary War. Political fragmentation and lack of focus stalled the movement in the early 1800s, but in the 1820s it returned. The American Temperance Society was formed in 1826 and by 1840 there were more than 8,000 local groups with over 1.5 million members, and 18 temperance journals were in publication.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Temperance Collection consists of correspondence and printed material relating to the temperance movement in Central New York.

Correspondence consists of a letter from Richard Gallagher of the Washingtonian Temperance Society in Carthage, New York, to Rev. J. Burchard of Belville, Jefferson County, requesting him to lecture to the Society.

Printed material contains constitutions, petitions and a poem. The constitutions include a booklet entitled "Constitution of Rochester Division No. 36, S. of T." and several one-page constitutions for various temperance organizations.

Petitions consists of a number of blank printed petitions to the New York Legislature which temperance advocates could use to solicit signatures. Several of the petitions are tailored for particular groups of petitioners, such as "the undersigned, females of _______ in the county of _____" and "Your petitioners, minors of _____ in the county of _____." Each is addressed to the New York Legislature, and makes various claims about the evils of drink. One reads, in part:

The public taxes of this county, in 1836, amounted to $37,000, and it is found on rigid examination, that more than $25,000 of this sum were expended in support of paupers, made so by intemperance, and in criminal prosecutions growing out of it...Your Petitioners believe, that most of these expenses would be saved to them, if [the sale of alcohol were made illegal]...they believe that crime would become comparatively unfrequent ; that pauperism...would be nearly or wholly unknown ; and that public and individual health, happiness and wealth, would be inconceivably promoted.

There is also one petition against the opening of mail on the Sabbath.

The poem, by Roswell Peck of Cortland County, New York, is entitled "King Alcohol" ("I daily breathe a poisonous breath / My drink is liquid fire and death...My business to engender strife / And put asunder man and wife").

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

See also Sons of Temperance, Waddington, N.Y. Collection and Temperance Society (Tyre, N.Y.) Minute Book. Special Collections Research Center also has a number of temperance-related printed items cataloged in our Rare Books division; please refer to the Classic Catalog to locate these items.

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Subject Headings


Temperance -- New York (State)


New York (State) -- Social life and customs.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Temperance Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchases, 1991, 2010.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 8 Oct 2010
Revision history: 26 Jun 2012 - name changed; adds (MRC)

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SC 615 Miscellaneous 1849
Printed material
SC 615 Constitutions 1845, undated - Sons of Temperance, Rochester division; Sabbath School Town Association; School District Temperance Society
SC 615 Petitions circa 1850 - temperance; mail on Sundays
SC 615 Poem, "King Alcohol", by Roswell Peck (Cortland County)

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