Boston Mayor James Michael Curley once described society members as "purse-lipped," yet many members liked to think of themselves as "genteel." But while the Watch and Ward Society may not have had one of their own as mayor of Boston anymore, statewide they had Republican support at the Statehouse and governor's office for many years.
Meanwhile, the Watch and Ward Society hired its own agents to spy on and raid shows, houses of ill repute, and bookstores when needed.
"Croteau had made a lot of enemies over the course of his 20-year service to the Watch and Ward, particularly because of his crusades against gambling," Miller writes.
The Watch and Ward wasn't the only prominent moral watchdog in Boston.
All told, the Watch and Ward Society, the Catholic church and certain politicians created a "stultifying" atmosphere in Boston that made many writers flee.
By the time of the death of Croteau in 1948, "the old Watch and Ward essentially came to an end," Miller said.
"It was the Watch and Ward in the 1920s; now we have individuals going to school boards demanding that books be removed," said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom.