Thursday, February 10, 2011

Moral, Religious, and Political Societies

While studying for my Archives Administration degree in Wales, I had to complete four miniature papers on various record types, which I figured I'd share here in order that the files could see the light of day again.

Moral, Religious, and Political Societies (A Sample)

The varied societies that formed in the 19th century arose from the working class as a way to promote moral conduct, support fellow members in need, and foster a sense of brotherhood that bettered society in general.

These societies include: 

Temperance Societies
Temperance societies, a movement founded in the United States, were formed throughout Britain during the 19th century in response to what were felt to be the societal ills that were brought upon by drinking alcohol.  Children also became involved in the movement, forming the Band of Hope in Leeds in 1847, and the adult temperance societies organized outings and events in association with the children.

Women were worried about their husbands spending all night out drinking, the clergy worried about the spiritual and moral welfare of their flock, and industry worried about their workers actually attending work sober. 

Originally temperance societies stressed moderation rather than the complete absence of drinking alcohol. Members promised to drink no strong liquor unless for medicinal purposes and to only drink alcoholic drinks, such as beer, in moderation. It wasn’t until later that teetotalers gained ground over that of mere temperance. 

Eventually, temperance societies and other groups such as the Salvation Army urged the House of Commons to pass stricter liquor laws. By 1881, a law passed that made the Sunday closing of public houses mandatory, and by 1900, a tenth of the British population were teetotallers.

Records include: 
  • Minute books
  • Lists of Subscribers
  • Rules
  • Membership Cards
  • Sickness Insurance
  • Funeral Arrangements for Members
  • Memorabilia
The Philanthropic Order of True Ivorites (One of Many Fraternal Orders)
The Ivorites were one of the many Friendly and Self-Help societies formed in the 19th century, though the Ivorites was almost exclusively Welsh. Founded by Thomas Robert Jones in Wrexham in 1836, the society was named after Ifor Hael aka Ivor the Generous, a 14th century poet from Monmouthshire.

Members were kept to strict rules of morals and behavior and were expected to help the needy. Additionally, the Ivorites held many cultural events as well as to foster the use and appreciation of the Welsh language. The Llandeilo Ivorites were described in 1840:

“While the aims of the Ivorites Order were partly that of a conventional Friendly Society, namely to foster unity and fraternity and to assist one another in sickness and adversity, they also took on another important role by promoting the practice of speaking and writing the Welsh language. Their primary purpose may have been to provide burial, accident and sickness benefits for their members, but in naming themselves after the patron of Wales's greatest poet, Dafydd ap Gwilym, they clearly wished to emulate Ifor Hael's great service by extending their patronage to the Welsh language and literature.”

The fraternal orders have similar records as the temperance unions:

  • Contribution Books
  • Account Books
  • Loans and Interest Books
  • Minute Books
  • Miscellaneous
Boy’s Brigade
The Boy’s Brigade was an interdenominational youth organisation founded on 4 October 1883 in Glasgow by William Alexander Smith and the first Boy’s Brigade company in Wales was founded by George Phillip Reynolds at Newport in 1887. The goal for the brigade is “The advancement of Christ's kingdom among Boys and the promotion of habits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-respect and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness."

They are similar to boy scouts in that they have ranks that boys can achieve, they can earn badges and take annual camping trips, and the main records of the organisation are held at the organisation’s headquarters at Hemel Hempstead.

Mr. Fitzpatrick’s Temperance Bar (In operation since 1890):

Boys’ Brigade. “Where We Started.” (accessed 10 Mar 2010).

Cordery, Simon. British Friendly Societies, 1750-1914. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003.

Gathering the Jewels. “Temperance Societies.”
             (accessed 10 March    2010).

Honorary Order of Ivorites. “Honorary Order of the Ivorites.” (accessed 5 March 2010).

National Library Wales. “Aberystwyth Auxiliary Temperance Society.” (accessed 3 March 2010).

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