Josephine Butler to her friends

Scope and Content

Typed copy of second letter. Written at Clarens

Had just held the Trimestrial meeting of the Committee of the Federation to which friends came from Geneva and elsewhere. They made arrangements to hold the International Conference of that year in Berne in Sep and one of the items to be discussed there, carried over from the Colmar Conference was the legal recognition of the fathers and the mothers of illegitimate children. Very full reports came from Holland, Russia, Germany and France. There is to be a great medical congress at St Petersburg in spring 1896: Venereal diseases and methods of dealing with prostitution are prominent in the programme as a result of 'alarming increase if venereal disease.' and failure of the regulations. Big struggle coming in Geneva.

Administrative / Biographical History

The first letter to a special inner circle of friends was dated 14 Dec 1895.

Josephine Butler speaks of the importance of the coming reform of the Codes of Switzerland which should finish its labours in a year or two.

She herself has been writing about it in her letters for the last 5 years.

See letters of 11 Feb 1891 and 19 Feb 1891.

Also accounts of speech made by L Budel at the Conference in London on 12 Jul 1894. (See 'Dawn' Aug 1894 p 27)

The names chiefly connected with it are:

Louis Ruchonmet; Alfred de Meuron; Louis Bridel

'... Shortly she [Geneva] will be coerced to do so from without' [i.e. give up the State protected houses of vice]

Josephine Butler was too optimistic. In Mar 1896 occurred the defeat of the reforming party at the pools followed by the mob violence instigated by the owners of the 'protected houses' and the wrecking of their opponents offices etc. It was not until 1927 that the system was finally swept away.

'M Bridel and M de Meuron gave us a thrilling account of their work in Geneva and of their own advocacy of our Cause in the Grand Council, with an immense majority against them'

The election of Bridel and de Meuron to the Grand Council of Geneva are recounted in the first of these letters 'Josephine Butler to dear Friends' of 14 Dec 1895.

'A great Medical Congress which is to be held in St Petersburg this spring, and on the programme of which there appears prominently the subject of the special diseases consequent on vice, and the methods of dealing with prostitution;

See letter of 5 Jan [1896] Josephine Butler to James Stuart which also speaks of this Medical Congress as if it were to be the spring of 1896.

But the official entry in 'Rough Record' gives under date of 20 Feb 1897:

'Lancet' has report of a Conference of over 400 Russian doctors on venereal diseases at St Petersburg'

So either the Russians postponed the Congress for a year of Josephine Butler made a mistake.

Biog: L Ruchonmet, Alfred de Meuron, Louis Bridel, Mme Renevier, Mme de Morsier, Mme de Gingins, M Stoss, M Diez, M Hubert