Temperance archive sources

This guide to temperance archives is not intended to be exhaustive. It complements the Archives Catalogue, which includes a subject search facility.

The Rechabite magazine

The Independent Order of Rechabites was a friendly society, which was founded in Salford in 1835. The Order was part of the temperance movement. The name of the Order was inspired by the Rechabites, who feature in the 35th Chapter of Jeremiah. The founders of the Order were concerned that many friendly societies met in public houses and their members were therefore vulnerable to the temptations of alcohol. The Order spread around the world: there were branches in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and India. Branches were known as “tents” and presided over by High Chief Rulers, who were assisted by Inside and Outside Guardians, a Levite of the Tent and a group of Elders. Before joining the Order, a prospective member had to sign a pledge that they and their family would abstain from alcohol. The Order is now known as Healthy Investment. Until July 2003, membership of the Society was exclusively for tee-totallers but members may now join if they have a healthy lifestyle.

Independent Order of Rechabites archive

The Beer Trade Protection Society represented 41,000 “beershops” and 89,000 public houses in England. The Society was based in London and was mainly concerned with the sale of beer and ale within the capital. The Society had a number of functions. It was a political lobbying group but also cared for retired or distressed inn-keepers and their dependents. The Society was particularly concerned with defending the Beerhouse Act of 1830, which exempted the sale of beer from the need to be licensed by a justice. This provision of the Act was under constant pressure from temperance groups.

Beer Trade Protection Society minute book, 1854-1866

Senate House Library also holds the Temperance Collection and the John Burns Collection.  Burns was a lifelong abstainer from alcohol.  Books from both these collections are included in the Library catalogue.