Our Archives

The White Ribbon Association Archives contain the records from it’s formation in 1876 to the present day. During this time there have been a number of names adopted.

  • The British Women’s Temperance Association (BWTA) 1876 – 1893
  • The National British Women’s Temperance Association (NBWTA) 1893 – 1926
  • The Women’s Total Abstinence Union (WTAU) 1893 – 1926
  • The National British Women’s Total Abstinence Union (NBWTAU) 1926 – 1993
  • The Women’s Total Abstinence Educational Union (WTAEU) 1926 – Present. The WTAEU ran in tandum with the NBWTAU
  • The White Ribbon Association (WRA) 1993 – Present


The BWTA became the foremost women’s temperance organisation in Britain, as well as an integral part of the temperance and other social movements in the nineteenth and twentieth century. From the records we can learn about the lives of the women involved, as well as the rise and decline of the temperance movement and the growth of women’s social and public roles since 1876.


At its peak, the Association, had hundreds of thousands of members who belonged to local branches; the branches formed County unions which were affiliated to the national organisation. The records in the archives tell the story of the organisation and its work. Although the variations of names suggest otherwise, the branches and county unions were mainly in England, with some in areas of Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, the British Women’s Temperance Association Scottish Christian Union was autonomous, and the Women’s Temperance Union of Wales was completely unaffiliated.


The collections in our archives contain material from 1876 onwards. In particular there are bound volumes of the organisations periodicals, annual report books, and national minute books (we have a limited number of minute books at branch and county level). There are some papers, pamphlets and books (from what was the organisation’s lending library) and limited amounts of correspondence and other papers. We hold a number of various artefacts and memorabilia such as banners, trophies and badges.

The archives are not currently catalogued at item level but lists of available material can be supplied in response to enquiries.

From the Archives

We delve into the history of the White Ribbon Association to bring you stories from the women who helped to shape our organisation and to learn more about our early work.