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The 49th and other parallels in the temperance auto/biographies of Letitia Youmans (Canada 1893) and Frances Willard (U.S. 1889).

I have organized my research by interconnecting the autobiographies of two nineteenth-century leaders of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) with my own auto/biography of crisscrossing the US-Canada border. This strategy allows me to make sense of my formal and informal temperance education in a Canadian WCTU family and community during the 1960s. Border narratives and "border pedagogy" constitute educational processes that are "intent on challenging existing boundaries of knowledge and creating new ones" (Giroux 1992: 29). From my post-foundational perspective in the twenty-first century, I am attracted to the narrative structure of identity formation--especially national identity and gender identity--as it unfolds in the autobiographies of the two nineteenth-century North American temperance educators, American Frances Willard and Canadian Letitia Youmans. I resist the urge to settle questions of cultural as well as geopolitical and generational boundaries and borders, and instead favour the "third space" (Bono, 1997; Ghosh 2004; Purvis 2004; English 2005) structure of auto/biography. This third space refers to "an unsettled condition of 'hybridity' or 'in-between-ness' ... [and] a way out of that dilemma of living on both sides of that borderline between self and other, us and them, [between past, present, and future, and between first wave, second wave, and third wave feminism (1)], when the notion of a core or singular self requires that we reside unambiguously on one side" (Macclure 1996: 274-275). Purvis' call to feminists to avoid artificial boundaries and paradigmatic rivalries between generational feminisms (often referred to as waves) is applicable to first wave feminism, which Willard and Youmans represent. "This third space or signifying process [of auto/biography] ... exists outside of strict chronological categories, within and against generational paradigms" (2004: 95). Bono supports the view of Graziella Parati, a writer on Italian women's autobiography, that women's biographies and autobiographies constitute a political practice through multiform narratives characterized by fluctuating borders between the personal and the political, between perception and representation, between (feminist) theory, fiction and autobiography. Auto/biography then qualifies as feminist border pedagogy and as a third space practice in accord with Parati's articulation of autobiography as a genre that "allows for a constant redefinition of boundaries and limitations. Autobiography is a hybrid and malleable genre that partakes of other genres and becomes a literary space where a woman can experiment with the construction of a female 'I' and sometimes, a feminist identity" (Parati as cited in Bono 1997: 39).


My research focus on the 49th parallel, the 8,895-km border that Canada and the United States share, often valorized as the "world's longest undefended border," provides a physical and geopolitical marker for my cross-border feminist analysis of two North American women's auto/biographies with regard to the temperance movement in Canada and the enduring traces of temperance discourses, particularly the social gospel, in my practice of feminist pedagogy (see, e.g., Forsythe & Lander 2002; Lander 2004). A postfeminist analysis is also a poststructural analysis of the shifting discourses of the historical subject "women," which define who and what was a woman, by drawing attention "to the ways in which femininity, even womanhood itself, is constantly elaborated in and by historically-specific discourses" (Valverde 1990: 234). I became interested in the nature of the relationship between Youmans and Willard, and how the cross-border political discourses of the time--e.g., prohibition, annexation, abolition, suffrage--figured differently, if at all, in their personal relationship and their public temperance auto/biographies, and in the continuities and discontinuities of contemporary social movements involving women in Canada-US relations. Did Willard and Youmans ever meet in person? Did they like as well as admire each other? Did their temperance ideas situated in different nations influence each other, and if so, how? Is there any evidence of how they or their ideas moved across the 49th parallel? Are any of their cross-border strategies in evidence in contemporary Canada-US relations and in contemporary feminisms?


Jackson (1997) compares the critical pedagogy of Henry Giroux's (1992) Border Crossings with the feminist pedagogy of Maggie Humm's (1991) Border Traffic; both are concerned with questions of power and the construction of knowledge but Humm places women's relationship to knowledge and to language within a patriarchal context and as it relates to modern capitalist society. Humm highlights the gendered aspects of border-crossing, particularly "our long-term history of crossing between received languages and undervalued ways of speaking.... For women, the condition of patriarchy presupposes the reality of borders, even if, for some women, these are often internalized borders experienced as exclusion" (1991: 1). Auto/biography becomes a vehicle for women writers, including Letitia Youmans and Frances Willard, to make dangerous border crossings and construct new genres and new languages of politics, economics, history, and higher education (Jackson 1997: 462)--and of particular interest for my research into women's social movements (see Lander 2005)--new languages of popular education and informal adult learning.

Introducing the Auto/biographers as Border-Crossers

Letitia Youmans, first president of the Ontario WCTU in 1877 and the first president of the Dominion WCTU (later the Canadian WCTU) organized in Montreal in 1883, held these posts until 1889. She wrote her autobiography, Campaign Echoes, "at the request of my sisters in the work" (Youmans 1893: v). Frances Willard's leadership spanned two decades as President of the US WCTU from 1879 and the World's WCTU from 1891, posts that she held until her death in 1898. Willard's autobiography, Glimpses of Fifty Years, and "written by order of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union" (1889: i) makes only passing references to her travels and influence north of the border. Letitia Youmans' autobiography taken in combination with Frances Willard's autobiographical references to Canada and supplemented by biographies and histories of Canadian women's temperance work, in which Frances Willard's presence looms large, provides an abundance of border narratives for my re-telling of nineteenth-century women's history in a Canadian context and through my north-of-the-border perspective.

Narrative lives up to its Latin root of gnarus, knowing, in the knowledge production of the self-narratives that underpin this study: the 1889 autobiography of Frances Willard, American leader of the WCTU; and, the 1893 autobiography of Letitia Youmans, Canadian leader of the WCTU. The autobiographical remembering in these intertwined self-narratives illuminates how places and borders remember/re-construct relationships. Ghosh-Schellhorn's work on women writing involves crossing a boundary, whether of a border or a category, both of which are "generally regarded as constituting an act of transgression ... a bodily bearing across a boundary which must not be crossed ... meaning 'to break a rule'" (2000: 7-8). The central idea of women writers as a "conjunction of a gender-specific existential transgression and the means appropriated by women in dealing creatively with this anomaly" (Ghosh-Schellhorn 2000: 9) is both challenged and confirmed in Willard's and Youmans' lives and auto/biographies.

The Canada-US border, often called the 49th parallel, provides the in-between place for my re-membering the events in these two nineteenth-century autobiographies, and the relationship of Frances Willard and Letitia Youmans as they write themselves across paths and borders. The US-Canada border serves as a north-south marker that both divides and joins the two nation-states, and as marker of the relationship between Canadian Letitia Youmans and American Frances Willard that both divides and joins them.

Selective Re-Membering

Frances Willard toured every state in the US and every province in Canada, attending WCTU conventions, making temperance speeches, and organizing new unions. Letitia Youmans traveled across Canada, and to many parts of the US, attending WCTU conventions and making temperance speeches; although she organized WCTU chapters only in Canada, she campaigned on behalf of the American WCTU in Michigan, Maine, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland (Cook 1992: 330). However, the two writers differ in their memories of the same events, including that of the 1878 International Temperance camp-meeting in Old Orchard, Maine, which they both attended. Letitia Youmans devotes a chapter in her autobiography to the Maine Law, which is often associated with Neil Dow, the Mayor of Portland who enacted prohibition in Maine in 1846. Frances Willard records that it was here that "Mrs. Youmans told us that a speech made by Neal Dow in her home at Picton, thirty years ago, convinced her that the liquor traffic is 'the gigantic crime of crimes,' and that right reason, enlightened conscience, and wise statesmanship, all demand its prohibition" (1883: 601). Letitia Youmans remembers the same event, but for a different reason. She was most taken with the consecration of a wild beauty spot to Miss Willard. Dr. Babcock, president of the association consecrated the section</p> <pre> to be henceforth called "Willard Dell." We filled our cups with

water, and poured them out upon the sod; then closed by singing the

doxology. At Miss Willard's request, we gathered a bouquet of

flowers, ferns and mosses, which she expressed to her mother at

Evanston, with a graphic sketch of the afternoon's proceedings.

[Youmans 1893: 214] </pre> <p>It is just this kind of pastoral detail that Kimble points to in Willard's (1889) Glimpses, as "feminizing" Willard's persona, so that she is no longer seen as a "manly" woman violating man's sphere. The re-creative function of Glimpses is felt not only in her "political maneuvering" for the WCTU for the "God-inspired protection of the home" but for the "true womanliness" of her personal image (1999: 59).

On the same 1878 trip, Letitia visited St. Andrews, New Brunswick. The Maine Law and US-Canada border traffic feature in Letitia's story. She remembers that</p> <pre> Calais, the adjoining town on the Maine side, had a vigorous W.C.T.U., and they had stipulated that I should give them one evening. I found that saloons were planted as close as possible to the Canadian side of the river so that the thirsty ones from Maine could have easy access to the beverage they could not procure at home. I was informed that there were frequent cases of drowning while crossing the river; that they were invariably persons returning from Canada to Maine. Canadian whiskey had dethroned reason, and consigned them to a watery grave. [Youmans 1893: 220] </pre> <p>It is beyond the scope of my border-crossing research to create a precise time-space chronology of Frances Willard and Letitia Youmans as they were organizing WCTU chapters across Canada in the late nineteenth century. However, in the winter of 1883, Letitia was visiting and forming Unions "en route to Montreal ... at the following places: Cowansville, Coaticoke, Danville, East Farnham, Sherbrooke, Waterloo, Sutton, Knowlton, St. Andrews, Lachute, Grandy, Richmond and Melbourne" (Youmans 1893: 246). In the same year (June, 1883), John Robson, Premier of British Columbia, was welcoming Frances Willard to Victoria, referring to the "curse of drink on both sides of the border and congratulat[ing] her for 'having risen above national lines and come across to assist British Columbians'" (Gough 1987: 1). Frances Willard is credited with organizing the Provincial W.C.T.U. of British Columbia in Victoria in July, 1883, in the presence of many of the city's leading men. She had the "pleasure of pinning the White Ribbon Bow on the Premier's lapel as he became the first among many honorary members" (Public Archives of Nova Scotia, A Centennial Mosaic, 1974: 32; see also Youmans 1893: 285). Letitia's record of visiting Victoria in 1886 includes an acknowledgement that "Miss Willard had preceded me about a year, and had taken the capital by storm, and planted the white ribbon standard" (Youmans 1893: 32). Frances Willard had also used this time to prepare for Letitia Youmans' visit and her ability to draw capacity crowds, noting that she had "been astonished and delighted by her power upon the platform" (Gough 1987: 19).

Positioning Myself in the Auto/Biographies

As the writer and interpreter of these two nineteenth-century auto/biographies, I acknowledge that I am weaving a web of "feedback effects," in the reading and writing of lives. Bono expands on this term describing the special involvement of the narrator/interpreter who "asks for--and indeed provokes--a multiplication in the relationship with the (female) addressee of the narration, who today experiences and expresses a desire which is 'almost a political request'" (1997: 43). I do not forget my own self and life; indeed I am reinterpreting my identity and life together with two women whom I know and imagine through their words.

In 2000, and with the increased speed of modern transportation, I traced Letitia Creighton Youmans' steps from her parents' home in Baltimore, Ontario, to her matrimonial home in Picton, Ontario, and across the border to Chautauqua Institute in Upper State New York, where in 1874 Youmans attended the Sunday School Assembly. Incidentally, my parents' farm where I spent the first 18 years of my life was just a few miles away from the Creighton farmhouse, which still stands. Hulbert claims that "it may not be generally known that this mighty movement" (1921: 62) of the WCTU began at women's temperance meetings during the August 1874 Chautauqua Assembly. Two even lesser known facts are relevant to my inquiry: Letitia Youmans was an active, vocal participant in this organizing moment of the WCTU and Frances Willard was not present.

As a white, middle-class, feminist academic with a temperance background studying the autobiographies of two white, middle-class, educated temperance women, I do not lay claim to producing feminist knowledge that is transferable beyond the historically and culturally situated feminist locations of North America. At first glance, the call for recognition of political agendas that are radically Other to dominantly represented feminist goals and critiques of First World feminist hegemony that feminists of color and Third World feminists advance (see Davis 2002; English 2005), might seem irrelevant to my inquiry into two nineteenth-century white, middle-class women's educational auto/biographies. Davis critiques the "optimism" of pluralized feminism, stressing that borders and "margins themselves are wrought with power relations; mere pluralization and multiplicity were never fundamentally (nor ultimately) the goal of these critiques" (2002: 153). The closely aligned geopolitical and cultural borders of the US and Canada serve as artifacts of North American colonialism--I define this as the erasure of cultural, linguistic, and sometimes physical presence of native and minority ethnic populations. These two nineteenth-century autobiographies provide a historical perspective on women's role in colonialism and aboriginal education, and my hope is that in so doing, they also augment critiques of First World feminist hegemony.

Auto/Biography as Lived Theory

Border-crossing as an organizer for this paper reinforces "the centrality (and integral nature) of time-space" (Massey 1999: 11) to auto/biography and history and to my social analysis of women's relationships. Narrative theorists make similar arguments for narrative as the disciplinary border-crosser, pointing to the centrality of time-space in the narrative underpinnings of auto/biography, history, social geography, and social science research (e.g., Massey 1999; Purvis 2004). One purpose of my border-crossing analysis is to offer Letitia Youmans and Frances Willard a speaking position into the twenty-first century and thereby complicate the narrative boundaries of time and place, past and present, self and other, and first, second, and third wave feminisms (Purvis 2004).

The Autobiographical Pact. The slash in Stanley's auto/biographical "I" signals the relational border spaces that self-study researchers occupy. Stanley insists that auto/biography "is not and cannot be referential of a life.... [A]uto/biography is more properly to be seen as artful construction within a narrative that more often than not employs a variety of methods and tools which imply referentiality" (1992: 128). Philippe Lejeune's "autobiographical pact" is evident in Willard's and Youmans' autobiographies; that is, they explicitly assure their readers that they are reading a referential account of the autobiographer's life and often the background history. In the introduction to Willard's autobiography, Hannah Whitall Smith further assures the reader of the autobiographical pact on the basis that Willard wrote her autobiography at the bidding of the white ribbon women. "The women wanted a true story, not a story that, out of a conventional modesty, would tell only half the truth, in the fear of being thought egotistic and full of self" (Willard 1889: vii; emphasis original). The commitment to factual truthfulness in the nineteenth century has given way to "questions of identity and identification of the narrating self in relation to the narrated self (be they coincident or not in 'reality') (Bono 1997: 45). Without the benefit of this discourse, it seems unlikely that Willard would accept Kimble's (1999) analysis that she used her autobiography as a means of personal re-creation, although she might agree that she used her writings, including her autobiography, to accomplish her political aims. It is as a narrator/interpreter in the twenty-first century that I portray Willard as elaborating a historically-specific discourse of the meaning of femininity and indeed, womanhood itself (see Valverde 1990).

Youmans' autobiography is a smaller, more modest text. Unlike Willard, who was a prolific essayist and a diarist during extended periods of her life (Gifford 1995), Youmans had "the merest fragment of notes to call up the memories of the past" (1893: v). However, her comment that she has "been blest with a most retentive memory" suggests that she believes her memories mirror reality. "I have endeavored truthfully to recall the transactions of the past, and bring prominently to view circumstances that might be of benefit to others" (emphasis added). I wonder if she held onto the "sympathizing letters" from Frances Willard, which "during my years of affliction and solitude ... cheered many a lonely hour." Quite possibly, she referred to Willard's letters to supplement her retentive memory.

Childhood Temperance

Cook (1992) notes that Youmans took up the cause of childhood temperance education, including anti-smoking campaigns, far more energetically than did Willard. Youmans uses the autobiographical form's narrative basis as a resource to create herself in the image of a childhood temperance educator and as making life choices on the basis of helping others, and in the process, she defines "women" and "women reformers" for that era. In her first chapter, Youmans addresses her "youthful readers" and again "my juvenile friends, who never had a glimpse of backwoods life, except by tradition" (1893: 20, 26). My own educational auto/biography of becoming a non-smoker (Forsythe & Lander 2001) stands as Letitia Youmans' legacy in the Canadian WCTU with its emphasis on youth education and anti-smoking campaigns. As Youmans embarks on the story of her offer of marriage from a widower with eight children "some of them not much junior in age," she reaffirms the autobiographical pact, by confessing that "this is not a pleasing theme on which to write" (1893: 68). In Letitia's auto/biography, the complete absence of details about temperance initiatives (or failures!) that she took up with her eight step-children, is tantalizing.

The Facts and Discourses of Border Narratives

Frances Willard's references to Letitia Youmans and to the temperance movement in Canada support my methodological approach of genealogy and narrative analysis, specifically the analysis of US-Canada border relationships in terms of historically situated discourse. At the same time, I challenge the dualism of fact and discourse in Valverde's genealogical approach in which "historians [and by extension, autobiographical researchers] cannot gather facts because facts, as well as the subjects who think they know them, are generated and given meaning in discourses" (1991: 9). Cook challenges Valverde's characterization of WCTU women as necessarily "racist, classist, opportunistic, and condescending" (1997: 216) and elaborates the Social Purity discourse as far from monolithic. Cook identifies two distinct phases of Social Purity. The first focused on personal programs between the early 1870s and 1890 (the time-space of Letitia Youmans' and Frances Willard's autobiographies) such as dress reform, pure food campaigns, alcohol and tobacco abstinence, and the "white life for two," that is, a single standard for men's and women's sexual behaviour. The second focused on multiple remedial public programs from 1890 until the mid-1920s, which often took the form of public campaigns to declare various vices illegal or to alter attitudes of Canadian children and youth. I can attest personally that the social purity discourse was sustained well into the 1960s in the WCTU community where I grew up, underpinning the recitations that I and other children and teens performed at Sunday School as part of WCTU medal contests. Cook underpins her analysis of the Canadian WCTU with the Social Gospel discourse: "the powerful, religiously based motive which impelled much of the multi-faceted program of social reform" (1997: 216). On this basis, Cook challenges Valverde's reading of the WCTU as unfair and ahistoric, particularly the "easy but erroneous conclusion ... that the WCTU see black mothers as a group to be led and taught, rather than celebrated and supported as family and community leaders" (1997: 216-217). The prevailing critiques of third-generation feminism as apolitical, conservative, and postfeminist or the critiques of second generation feminism as "rigid, monolithic, tyrannical, and racist" (Purvis 2004: 95, 96) explicate the dangers of a strict chronology for delineating the waves. My coming-of-age biography from the 1960s (see Forsythe & Lander 2001) attests to my exposure to the blurred boundaries of first wave and second wave feminisms. I was (reluctantly) performing first wave feminism in my social gospel recitations that demonized drinking and smoking--and often violence against women and poverty. This occurred even as I was attracted to second wave feminism, which centered on the secular issues of equal rights for men and women and sexism, and which was often tied with sexual and reproductive freedom.

Canada-US Relations in First-Wave Auto/Biographies

I want to further complicate Canadian women's history and biography by factoring in the US-Canada relations that were the political backdrop to the first wave auto/biographies of Letitia Youmans and Frances Willard. Genealogical method combined with narrative analysis illustrates the time-space borderlines between facts and discourses--I was "gathering" (Valverde) both--in the auto/biographies of Letitia Youmans and Frances Willard as they cross each other's paths and cross the 49th parallel. Letitia Youmans claims a personal relationship with Frances Willard in her autobiography, whereas Frances Willard's references to Canada and Letitia Youmans, tend to highlight the dominance of the US in the North American temperance movement. Notice the condescension in Willard's description of: "our bright young ally across the border--the Dominion W.C.T.U., with provincial auxiliaries in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia" (1889: 433); and, "We must look well to our laurels, or our allies of the maple leaf will be first at the goal of prohibition" (1889: 434). Frances Willard's record of her first meeting with Letitia Youmans is factual and focused on her oratory:</p> <pre> Our delegates to Cincinnati W.C.T.U. Convention in 1875, met there Mrs. Letitia Youmans, the earliest white ribbon pioneer in Canada. She came to learn our methods and we were in turn astonished and delighted by her power on the platform. Her "Haman's License" and "Nehemiah Building the Walls" are addresses known throughout the country as unrivaled Bible exposition of great reform. [Willard 1889: 434] </pre> <p>Geographical facts feature in Letitia Youmans' journey to Stanstead, a borderland between the United States and Canada where a W.C.T. Union had already been formed.</p> <pre> A letter from the secretary informed me that I had three engagements for the Sabbath: At 10:00 a.m., at Stanstead Plains; at 3 p.m., for Rock Island, Vermont; at 7:30 p.m., Beebe Plain. I showed the letter to my hostess, saying: "That is a regular imposition; I only agreed to speak in the town of Stanstead, and here they are about to drag me to the United States, and back again." She laughed heartily, and said: "You don't understand the geography of the place. Stanstead town is called Stanstead Plain; Rock Island is really a part of the town--some of the buildings, a part of them in the United States, and a part in Canada; and Beebe Plain less than a mile from either place." Here I found, as I often did, it was best not to cross the bridge until I got to it. [Youmans 1893: 245-246] </pre> <p>In my historical work for this paper I gathered historical facts from The Stanstead Journal, "published on the border since 1845" in support of a narrative analysis (see Eastern Townshippers Border Lines, n.d.: 1, 2). The earliest, and only, Customs House east of St. John's, Quebec, was established at Stanstead Plain in 1821 and for good reason. "It was on the stage route from New England to Montreal, one of the busiest and most important points of entry on the border." Letitia Youmans does not provide any details of her mode of transportation in 1883. Accordingly, I can augment narrative analysis and discourse analysis with the historical fact that the Massawippi Valley Railway between Lennoxville and Newport was completed in 1875 and Stanstead Junction, later to become Beebe Junction, "took on great importance as a point of entry into Canada." As a challenge to the fact of the 49th parallel as the world's longest undefended border, this 45th parallel "chosen as the dividing line between British North America and the newly formed United States of America in the Treaty of Paris in 1783" was the source of squabbling between American and Canadian officials as to whose reading was the more accurate.

The Gender, Race and National Identity of Border Narratives

As backdrop to my analysis of two nineteenth-century women's auto/biographies as border-crossing and a re-negotiation of cultural space, consider the current predominance of masculine and capitalist metaphors and images that capture media attention to the US as world superpower in the context of the shared border with Canada and references to "cross-border shopping," "common currency," "common security perimeter," and the "smart border." The focus on the movement of goods and information in the run up to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1989 has shifted to the movement of terrorists and weapons of mass destruction in the wake of 9/11. The cross-border networks of the WCTU foreshadow the transnational activism that links Canada, Mexico, and the US and resistance of women workers' networks within NAFTA (Barndt 1997; Dominquez 2002). In the resistance to the might of global capital, grassroots women's organizations strive for changes in patriarchal structures by enacting "globalization from below," that is, the "cumulative effect of many small local efforts" (Barndt 1997: 48). This also characterizes the WCTU featured in Willard's and Youmans' nineteenth-century autobiographies. The women's temperance movement of the nineteenth century focused on the liquor traffic from a global perspective. These autobiographies highlight the strikingly similar aims of nineteenth-century women's cross-border alliances; this analysis raises questions about the newness of globalization and the degree to which it alters discourses and alliances.

The metaphorical use of border-crossing applied to these two women's temperance auto/biographies highlights the contradiction of women's auto/biography and its affinity with post-colonial feminist thinking "as a device to interrogate how multiple systems of exploitation intersect ... [and] to develop radical political visions that affirm the interconnections among all people struggling against patriarchy, imperialism, capitalism and white supremacy" (Mendez & Wolf 2001: 724). The autobiographies of Letitia Youmans and Frances Willard are embodied texts of North American colonial history replete with white, middle-class privilege and religious intolerance; yet, contradictorily their auto/biographies affirm the interconnections among people struggling against patriarchy and capitalism, against family violence and poverty. Both Youmans and Willard would be considered Christian socialists in the democratic tradition of the social gospel (see Lander 2004). These contrasting border images evoke Lister's description of the interstices between the two spheres (public and private) where informal politics and informal learning occur "in which women are the primary actors ... motivated often initially by personal, domestic concerns" (1997: 153). The "separate spheres" and "cult of domesticity" as the ideology of nineteenth century social life is often reified and contrasted to the contemporary blurring of spheres (Gerson & Peiss 1985: 327). However, the experiences of Youmans and Willard suggest that permeability of boundaries and shifts in existing gender boundaries "which are preceded, accompanied, or followed by changes in negotiation/domination and consciousness" are a phenomenon that pre-dated the twentieth century discourses of post-colonialism and post-modernity. Valverde also disputes the separate spheres discourse of the nineteenth century. Women reformers were not moving from the private to the public sphere "but rather were engaged in constituting the new sphere of the social and simultaneously grounding it in femininity.... [E]ven today it [the social sphere] is regarded as much more feminine than the strictly 'political' sphere of foreign policy and tax reform" (1990: 235) and homeland security. Indeed, Frances Willard and Letitia Youmans qualify as the third space practitioners that English describes as adult educators who negotiate</p> <pre> a space of transnational becoming ... [They] are exemplars of resistance fighters and boundary crossers.... Along with intuitive, analytical and reflective aspects of educational practice,... [auto/biography functions as a third space practice, which] bring[s] a keen sensitivity to labels, coding, power, and justice. [English 2005: 97] </pre> <p>A homogeneous consumer culture related to the liquor traffic and the loss of individual identity (Ghosh 2004) are negative effects of globalisation and American dominance that Youmans hints at in her autobiography and her relationship with Willard. In operationalizing the temperance movement across borders, Youmans remains adamant that women in the movement have their national symbols in full display. Willard sent word ahead to the WCTU President of southern California that Youmans was visiting that state in 1886 to give a series of public lectures. At a meeting in San Francisco, the ladies had the two national flags tied together with white ribbons over the platform. Youmans reported that an old English lady rushed up to her at the close of the meeting, pointing to the Union Jack and exclaiming, "Oh, the old flag! The old flag! I haven't seen it for ten years" (1893: 281). Such enthusiasm over the flag has waned. The subdued celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Canada's maple leaf flag on February 15, 2005 support Drache's (2004) suggestion that it is Canada's border with the USA and not the national flags that mark the relationship and the cultural realities of similarities and differences between the two countries. (Note that American Frances Willard's autobiography refers to "our allies of the maple leaf" as early as 1889.) After September 11, 2001 and the development of the USA's Homeland Security, Canada has been shocked into realizing that the US defense of the border against terrorism has trumped environmental issues and trade alliances. Exceptionally, the maple leaf flag wrapped around the Statue of Liberty was the symbol of solidarity with the American people (not the US government) following 911. The governments of Britain and the US are declaredly firm allies in the war against terrorism whereas Canada has been shocked into a new nationalism, which includes isolation of USA foreign policy in the Iraq war.

Motivation is central to an analysis of psychosocial narrative subjects and in Letitia Youmans' autobiography, she represents her motivation for temperance activism as emerging out of a concern for the young people whom she knew from teaching Sunday School and visiting them at their homes. In Letitia's words:</p> <pre> Finding that I sympathized with them in their trials, tales of sorrow were communicated to my ears. "Oh," said one dear young girl (in the strictest confidence), "my heart is just breaking; father is so kind and good to us when he is sober, but liquor makes him a raving maniac. He hurled a burning lamp at mother the other night; sometimes he pursues us with a kettle of boiling water. I fear that sometime he will take our lives." [Youmans 1893: 88] </pre> <p>The motivation of women temperance activists to address personal, domestic concerns also complicates the traditional representations of missionary zeal and indeed, womanhood, in Canadian colonial history. Letitia Youmans devotes a chapter to her visit to the North-West Territories. I can analyse her narrative of her visit to Morley and the Indian Orphanage in connection with the Methodist mission in the feminist post-colonial terms of declaring her own positionality and her white, middle-class privilege:</p> <pre>

We had brought a basket of fruit from Victoria, which I gave to my friends. They called the children together and showed them what they had never seen before--oranges, peaches, pears, apples and grapes. The fruit was divided among them, and it was truly amusing to see the look of wonder that passed over their faces as they tasted the delicious articles. We who are accustomed to the abundance of fruit, can have no idea of what a luxury it is to those who are deprived of it. [Youmans 1893: 295] </pre> <p>Another passage in the same chapter could be used to support Valverde's (1991) view of the WCTU as racist and classist, and the post-colonial analysis that highlights instances of devaluing indigenous culture and imposing white culture:</p> <pre> I was particularly impressed with the contrast between the children of the orphanage and those who came in from the reserve. The former occupied seats and were clothed like white children; the latter, with cotton handkerchiefs tied on their heads, and little blankets round their shoulders, squatted down on the floor ignoring the use of seats, each one trying to hide behind the other. The evening service was designed for the white people, so that I had no need for an interpreter. [Youmans 1893: 297] </pre> <p>Canada-US Border-Crossing as Reciprocity

Crossing borders of power and knowledge combines with negotiating private and public spheres in the nineteenth-century autobiographical instances in which Letitia Youmans and Frances Willard cross the 49th parallel and the provincial borders in Canada. Gender, age, class and race are politically situated factors in representations of US-Canada relationships in the late nineteenth century. My exploration of a Canadian woman and an American woman negotiating these borders in the nineteenth century stands in contrast to contemporary masculine media images of John Manley, then Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Tom Ridge, US Homeland Security Advisor, standing windswept in Niagara Falls, Ontario in June, 2002 for their fourth face-to-face meeting on the "Smart Border Declaration and its companion 30-point Action Plan" (U.S. Department of State 2002: 1). This same location appears in Letitia Youmans' dreams for celebrating the passage of a border-crossing prohibition law, beginning with July first, Dominion Day, and closing up with July 4th, Independence Day.</p> <pre> The assemblies shall meet at Niagara, where the two countries are tied together by the Suspension Bridge .... the women of the W. C. T. U. to lead the van; the United States women to plant the Stars and Stripes on their side of the river, and the Canadians to erect the Union Jack on their side; each part to have bunting enough to meet in the centre of the bridge, where the two flags are to be tied together with white ribbon; the American Eagle to poise on the top, while the British Lion is to crouch underneath; the Eagle to see that no Canadian whiskey crosses over to his domain, while the Lion guards the Canadian shore from Yankee rum. Thus we will have annexation in spite of the politicians; and the best reciprocity treaty that could be enacted. [Youmans 1893: 205] </pre> <p>In the one chapter of her book, Woman and Temperance, which Frances Willard devotes to Canadian leaders, she praises Letitia Youmans for strengthening the ties of "our temperance 'Reciprocity Treaty.'"</p> <pre> Her cheery greetings and unfailing bonhomie have greatly helped to strengthen the ties between the two sides of the line, and her favourite prediction about "the women tying together across Lake Erie, the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes with ribbons that are total abstinence badges ..." never fails to "bring down the house." [Willard 1883: 602] </pre> <p>Border-Crossing Imagery of the Temperance Movement

Another border-crossing moment occurred early on in my inquiry. Accompanying Frances Willard's picture on the frontispiece of her autobiography is the date January 30, 1889, her signature, and "Yours for Home Protection." In her autobiography, Frances Willard attributes the phrase "home protection" to Letitia Youmans--a somewhat begrudging acknowledgement, given that she spells her surname wrong and refuses her full authorship of the phrase.</p> <pre> Away back in 1876, I think it was, when our great and good Mrs. Yeomans [sic], of Canada, spoke at Old Orchard Beach [Maine], my ear first caught the winsome and significant phrase "Home Protection." My impression is that she did not coin, but adapted it from the tariff vocabulary of the Dominion.... When I was converted, heart and soul, to the Prohibition party, I believed, as I do still, that its strength would be immeasurably increased by adopting Home Protection as its name. [Willard 1889: 401] </pre> <p>Frances Willard writes the introduction to the "autobiography of my beloved friend and comrade, Mrs. Letitia Youmans, of Canada, First President, and now for a number of years honorary president, of the Dominion Woman's Christian Temperance Union" (Youmans, 1893: vii). Even here, Willard qualifies her praise of Letitia Youmans with regard to the "home protection" theme:</p> <pre> Clear and logical as were all her appeals, Mrs. Youmans was never so effective as on her favorite theme of "home protection," though she declined to give to those words, dear to American White Ribboners, the broader significance they have acquired upon the prairies. [Youmans 1893: x] </pre> <p>Flow of Knowledge Across Borders

In her chapter describing the trip to Chautauqua, New York in 1874, in which the Sunday School Assembly took steps to form the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in the US, Letitia Youmans makes a clear connection between crossing the US-Canada border and the flow of knowledge:</p> <pre> We now journeyed homeward, highly gratified with what we had seen and heard. We crossed the national boundary lines freighted with a stock more precious to me than silver and gold, and yet we escaped the tariff, for my merchandise was not dutiable. I had now fresh material for both Bible-class and Band of Hope, and the germ at least of a Woman's Temperance Union. The latter sprang into existence a month or two later. [Youmans 1893: 104] </pre> <p>Frances Willard tells her own US-Canada crossing stories. Her tribute to Eliphalet Remington of the well-known firm of Remington Bros., who came to her rescue with a check for five hundred dollars when she was serving the National W.C.T.U. without salary in 1875, includes a sidebar that documents the flow of temperance knowledge from Montreal to New York.</p> <pre> This noble man is the founder of the New York Witness, a fact not generally known, perhaps. He had seen the Canada Witness and been impressed with its value as a promoter of morality and our Christian faith. So without taking counsel other than of his own keen conscience, he went to Montreal and induced the good and great John Dougall, editor of the Witness, to come to New York City, assuring him of sufficient help to establish a paper just as able as the one he was then editing. This generation has hardly been fed from purer springs than those of the two papers--the Montreal Witness, and its comrade namesake in New York. [Willard 1889: 602-603] </pre> <p>Willard's and Youman's autobiographies and the flow of knowledge that centered on the "home protection" motif in their temperance work echo forward to Hart's 1990's ideas of motherwork. Hart's proposal to rethink work and education by looking at motherwork challenges the "binary oppositions between 'family' and 'work,' between 'private' and 'public,' and between the 'reproductive' and the 'productive'" (1997: 210). My research into these two nineteenth-century autobiographies produces pre-NAFTA and pre-911 instances of women's writing that enacts the feminist project of crossing these borders and categories.

Re-Constituting Auto/Biography as Border Pedagogy

I began this study with the assumption that these two nineteenth-century auto/biographies and other writings either by Willard and Youmans, or about them, constitute narrative knowledge, and a feminist border pedagogy. I enlarge Giroux's description of border pedagogy to include third space that is accessible to all who are prepared to negotiate cultural space. This border pedagogy is not the sole domain of left-leaning liberals or border intellectuals, to use Giroux's phrase. Willard and Youmans constitute border intellectuals in the liberal tradition insofar as they were highly educated leaders of social movements who operated in both formal and informal education. The predominance of their informal education and popular education in social movements via their autobiographies and public lectures, re-creates these nineteenth-century educators as third space practitioners (see English 2005). "Third is used to denote the place where negotiation takes place, where identity is constructed and reconstructed, where life in all its ambiguity is played out" (2005: 87).

Unlike Giroux's (1992) notion of border intellectuals, which hints at the hierarchy of patriarchal, public space over private spaces of friendship and family, Frances Willard and Letitia Youmans are boundary dwellers who negotiate rather than simply cross borders. Youmans and Willard, without access to the contemporary postcolonial discourse, exemplify strategic essentializing (Spivak 1990) as border pedagogy: they use their auto/biographies to re-create themselves in the image of true womanhood and to negotiate the dangerous crossing into public, patriarchal space. Reminiscent of Gloria Anzaldua's borderlands, Willard and Youmans negotiate borders of culture, history and the shifting identities of "women." Whereas Anzaldua is focused on the Mexico-US border, and the edging together of two noticeably divergent cultures, "where different races occupy the same territory, where under, lower, middle and upper classes touch," the assertion that "the space between two individuals [and by extension, between two nations] shrinks with intimacy" (1987: i) rings true for the autobiographies of these two women and the North American social movement that they represent. For Willard and Youmans, national identity stands out as the signifier of difference.

Frances Willard and Letitia Youmans negotiate the borderlands via media of public speaking and auto/biography. In feminist, post-structural, and postcolonial theory, travelling across borders involves identity politics and psychosocial subjects negotiating the divide between different cultural spaces. My narrative analysis and genealogical method seeks to affirm the geographical (49th parallel), historical, cultural, and educational border spaces that constitute and are constituted by gender and nationhood. Willard's and Youmans' auto/biographies offer many insights on the Self-Other borderlands of class, race, gender, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation--in some cases by silence and erasure. The theories of border-crossing highlight the contested terrain of the in-between and the demands placed on women, including women writers, to give careful attention to the gatekeepers of "in" and "out." Women like Willard and Youmans who take the opportunity to negotiate borders, that is,</p> <pre> to get up and go someplace else, in a physical, metaphysical and emotional sense, have a stake in the reconfiguration of meaning and matter.... To keep moving is to go beyond the imposed limits and constraints of bounded discourses, to loosen the hold of certainties and truths, to animate boundaries in the reconceiving and resignification of identities ... 'in' here and 'out' there as well as 'over' there. [Brown 1997: 142] </pre> <p>The nineteenth-century auto/biographies of Youmans and Willard demonstrate that borders matter in educational practice and that these borders are historically specific. Auto/biography as the educational practice of third space practitioners enables negotiation across generations, including the first, second and third waves of feminisms, a negotiation of geopolitical and cultural borders constituted as the in-between of public and private spaces, theory and practice, and formal and informal learning. Auto/biography as border narrative shapes transnational learning and becoming.


(1) First wave feminism is associated with social reform movements that began in the nineteenth century (e.g., temperance, suffrage, abolitionism) and is characterized by women challenging the ideology of "separate spheres" and their exclusion from the public sphere. The second wave of mass support for women's rights emerged in the 1960s and is characterized by women's critique of male domination in social issues related to civil rights, sexual freedom, and reproductive choice, when their contributions and political perspectives were devalued or dismissed. Third wave feminism sometimes called postfeminism in accord with its roots in postmodernism challenges the homogeneity of women on the basis of their biological sex, and advances the notion of gender, in which differences (e.g., class, race, ethnicity, age) are emphasized (MacPherson, 2000).


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Dorothy A. Lander

Saint Francis Xavier University
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Author:Lander, Dorothy A.
Publication:Vitae Scholasticae
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 22, 2005
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