History Article Award

Woman’s Sphere Remodelled. A Spatial History of the Victorian Woman’s Christian Temperance Union 1887‒1914

Ruby Ekkel

Victorian Historical Journal, vol. 91, no.1, June 2020


This is a thoroughly and deeply researched article presented with a verve and pace that makes it both conceptually strong and persuasive.  By undertaking a spatial analysis of the activities of the WCTU in Victoria between 1887 and 1914 the author demonstrates the ways in which these women negotiated the ideological framework of ‘separate spheres’ to expand the definition of the ‘private sphere’ women were allowed to occupy.  In the process, the women of the WCTU were able to advance their aims for social reform in the public domain without appearing to undermine the established social order.  At the same time she reminds the reader that those aims encompassed far more than simply curtailing the consumption of alcohol.


 Rich in local historical detail drawn from a number of locations around Victoria, the article is tightly enmeshed in recent local and international scholarship which, though worn lightly, gives the article a compelling contemporary relevance.