Mrs Scholefield – Founding member

During recent work on the collection of glass magic lantern slides held in our archives, I have come across some new images  from the early years of the BWTA. Images like the one below featuring Mrs Scholefield (seated), bring our history to life. They allow us to see the real women behind their campaign against the consumption of alcohol and which highlighted the social impact of drunkenness on society, families and industry.

I have been able to identify Mrs Scholefield as one of the founding members of the BWTA, through articles found in the White Ribbon magazine and an original ‘Lecture with slides’, entitled ‘For God and Home, A Story of Women’s Enterprise’. This piece tells the story of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) of America and the foundation of the BWTA, which followed in the footsteps of the WCTU.

On returning from America having met some of the courageous women involved in the ‘Women’s Whiskey Wars’, Mrs Margaret Parker set about formally organising a women’s temperance association in the UK. It was to be set up along the same broad lines of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of America.


One of the chief enthusiasts at the time for the women’s temperance cause in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was Mrs Scholefield. She was the wife of a doctor, and hosted one of the very first meetings – ‘In her drawing-room, convened by Mrs Margaret Parker, a little conference of perhaps 30 or 40 women met, and at that small gathering the Constitution of the National British Women’s temperance Association was drawn up, and the first National Officers were elected….’.

It may be concluded that the Constitution handwritten in the first minute book that we hold in our archive (seen right), is that which was drawn up in Mrs Scholefield’s drawing room during that ‘little conference’.

Some 29 years later in 1905, Mrs Scholefield was pictured in the White Ribbon magazine, when she attended an Executive Meeting held at Castle Howard, family home of the Rosalind Countess of Carlisle who was BWTA President 1903-1921. When she attended meetings in later years, she would have been treated as a guest of honour having been part of those inaugural moments of the BWTA in 1876.



Mrs Scholefield’s name may been forgotten across the years, but finding her image on the glass slide has enabled us to remember her again; to place her face back into the story of the BWTA, where she was right from its very beginnings. Alongside Mrs Margaret Parker, the first elected President, she was there at a key moment in our women’s temperance story.





Mrs Margaret Parker – First BWTA President 1876 

Mrs Margaret Parker is also captured in one of our glass slides, in another previously uncatalogued image. Other images of Mrs Parker held in our records are illustrations, so to see this photograph of our very first President is exciting. She is poised as if about to make a speech and is wearing what appears to be a white ribbon badge on her lapel.

During some unrelated research in our collection of White Ribbon magazines, I came across an article from March 1907 titled ‘The Late Mrs Margaret E Parker’. This article provides us with a fuller picture of Mrs Parker’s life and her temperance work, before her visit to America and the formation of the BWTA. We will be sharing this by updating our web page about Margaret Parker in the history section of our website.

New information continues to come to light from the wealth of material in our archive and the glass slides are proving no exception. As is often the case one thing leads to another, so it is always exciting to wonder what new image or piece of information uncovered, will bring the past to life a little bit more.