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This week in New West history: 'Fallen women' in need of help

We're delving into the archives to find out what was making news this week — in 1913.
The Jan. 17, 1913 edition of The New Westminster News carried this article on the need for help for New Westminster’s “fallen women.”

New Westminster is a city full of history — and that history includes a variety of community newspapers over its many decades.

In a new weekly series, we’ll be taking a look back at the headlines from some of those newspapers, shining a spotlight each week on a notable news story, person or moment from this week in New West history.

We’re beginning this week by travelling back to January 1913.

'Moral reform': What to do with 'fallen women'

One hundred and ten years ago this week, the women of the community were banding together to find solutions for New Westminster’s “fallen women.”

The issue made headlines in the New Westminster News on Jan. 17, 1913.

Under the headline “Discuss question of moral reform,” the newspaper article noted that the Local Council of Women had endorsed a petition from the Citizens’ League of New Westminster asking the provincial government to establish educational and industrial homes for “fallen women.”

The petition in question noted that the stigma surrounding fallen women made it impossible for them to secure positions to ensure an “honourable livelihood.”

“Whereas the experience of the past has amply demonstrated the fact that the present methods of dealing with these people have utterly failed to produce the desired result, and whereas, we believe it is the imperative duty of the state today to reproduce and preserve the highest type of citizenship, therefore, we, the members of the Citizens’ league of New Westminster, believing that the time has come for the adoption of more progressive methods in dealing with this curse, we humbly pray your honourably (sic) body to carefully consider the question of establishing educational and individual homes for these unfortunates where they may be placed in helpful environment and receive such training as will fit them for social and honourable citizenship.”

The Women’s Council reportedly “thoroughly thrashed out the moral question” and opted to endorse the petition, saying it was the “most advisable course to take as a means of solving the great question.”

“Fining and imprisoning of fallen women, it was stated, had proved an absolute failure.”

What was The New Westminster News?

The New Westminster News was published by The National Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd.

According to the UBC Library’s open collection of B.C. historical newspapers, it was titled The Daily News from March 6, 1906 to April 24, 1912; the Westminster Daily News from April 25, 1912 to Dec. 4, 1912; and the New Westminster News from Dec. 5, 1912 to Sept. 4, 1914.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
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