Last Updated:
June 1998

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Pledge cards

The Livesey Collection contains many examples of pledge cards issued during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Personal pledges to renounce drink were the foundation of all temperance societies, both local and national.

Disputes over the wording of pledges began almost as soon as the temperance movement gained ground in Britain. Early disputes arose over the anti-spirit versus the teetotal pledge and between the long [a promise to encourage others to abstain] and the short [personal abstension] pledge. The Collection includes examples of both of the latter.

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This is a facsimile reprint of the teetotal pledge and signatures written out by Joseph Livesey in September 1833. It is a purely personal pledge, with no mention of encouraging others to abstain.

The original version has yet to be traced.

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The following two cards illustrate the very specific target audience of some nineteenth century temperance organisations .

The first card is an example of those issued by Agnes Weston's Sailors' Rest in Portsmouth.

Railway temperance societies blossomed in the later nineteenth century. Railway missions were established to allay fears over potential accidents caused by drunken rail workers.

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Mrs Lewis "the drunkard's friend" extended her mission work to children via the Band of Hope. This pledge emphasises the many and extensive temptations that could beset a child.

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