Woman of the Century/Josephine Ralston Nichols
NICHOLS, Mrs. Josephine Ralston, lecturer and temperance reformer, born in Maysville, Ky , in 1838. She was attracted to the temperance movement by an address delivered in Maysville by Lucretia Mott. When it became the custom to have women represented in the popular lecture courses in her city, her fellow townsmen, recognizing her abilities and the readiness with which she served every good cause, appealed to her to help out the funds of the lecture association, and she prepared and delivered a lecture on "Boys." JOSEPHINE WALSTON NICHOLS. Her own two boys at home provided her with material for observation, and her motherly heart suggested innumerable witty, graphic and helpful comments for the boys themselves and all their well-wishers. It proved popular. Her literary productions were free from fault, and her natural style soon won a high place for her among platform speakers. That led to the preparation of other lectures, one on "Girls," and another on "Men." She was drawn into the movement started by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and she added to her list of lectures a number devoted to temperance. Among those were "Woman's Relations to Intemperance," "The Orphans of the Liquor Traffic" and others. The scientific aspects of the work received her special attention. A lecture on "Beer, Wine and Cider" was often called for, and proved so helpful that at last she consented to have the first part of it published by the Woman's Temperance Publication Association. She is a strong advocate of woman suffrage and has delivered several lectures in its favor. Her greatest triumphs have been won in her special department as superintendent of the exposition department of the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union work, of which she has been superintendent since 1883. She has enabled the women in State and county fairs throughout the land to aid in making them places of order, beauty and sobriety. In many cases they have entirely banished the sale of intoxicants, either by direct appeal to the managers or by securing the sole privileges of serving refreshments. In all cases, banners and mottoes were displayed, and cards, leaflets, papers and other literature given away, and very often books, cards and pamphlets sold. So general has been the satisfaction that several States have passed laws prohibiting the sale of intoxicating drinks on or near the fair grounds. All that practical work has largely been the result of Mrs. Nichols' use of her knowledge of such affairs. One of the most successful means of extending and illustrating that knowledge was the way in which she handled her work in the World's Fair in New Orleans. She obtained favors from the management. She secured from the State and national departments the preparation and loan of banners and shields with which to decorate the booth. She made that booth a place of rest and refreshment, furnishing freely the best water to be had on the grounds. She secured the donation and the distribution of immense quantities of temperance literature in tongues to suit the foreign visitors. She continued the work the second year, and closed up the account with a handsome balance in the treasury. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union of the State of Indiana made her its president in 1885. The State work thrives under er leadership, although her health has been so poor for some time that she has been able to no out but little. She went to Europe in 1889 and remained a year. She spent six months in the Universal Exposition, arranging and superintending the exhibits of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union of the United States, and of the World's Christian Temperance Union. Returning to the United States she prepared illustrated lectures on Rome and Paris, which were very successful. She will perform a valuable work for the same two societies in the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1803. She is now in the popular lecture field, as well as the special philanthropic field She lives in Indianapolis, Ind., surrounded by a family of children and filling a prominent position in society.