Spirited: Prohibition in America

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Name: Spirited: Prohibition in America
Date: October 19, 2019
Time: 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM CDT
Event Description:
Nationally Touring Exhibition, Spirited: Prohibition in America, Opens
September 1, 2019 at the Evanston History Center
            During the era of Prohibition, Americans no longer could manufacture, sell, or transport intoxicating beverages from 1920 until 1933. Spirited: Prohibition in America, a new exhibit opening September 1, 2019, at the Evanston History Center (EHC), explores this tumultuous time in American history, when flappers and suffragists, bootleggers and temperance lobbyists took sides in the battle against the bottle. Evanston was an epicenter for alcohol reform, and visitors to Spirited can also experience the local story in Dry Evanston: The Untold Story, an exhibit at EHC that runs simultaneously. An opening reception, featuring the Chris Mahieu Trio, will be held on September 19, 2019, from 6:30-8 pm. Light refreshments and non-alcoholic drinks will be served. 
Organized by the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA, in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance, Kansas City, MO, Spirited: Prohibition in America explores the era of Prohibition, when America went “dry.” Visitors will learn about the complex issues that led America to adopt Prohibition through the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 1919. Visitors will also learn about the amendment process, the changing role of alcohol in American culture, Prohibition’s impact on the roaring ‘20s and the role of women, and how current liquor laws vary from state to state.
    In 1830, on average, Americans consumed 90 bottles—or about four shots a day—of 80-proof liquor each year. Saloons gained notoriety as the most destructive force in American culture, where men would drink away their families’ money. Following extensive lobbying by the Anti-Saloon League and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (based in Evanston), on January 16, 1919, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, and beginning January 17, 1920, Americans could no longer manufacture, sell, or transport intoxicating beverages. 
In the following years, the country was split between “wets” and “drys,” speakeasies flourished, legal authorities gave chase to gangsters, and many created inventive ways to circumvent the law. Governmental agencies, including the Prohibition Bureau and the Justice Department, charged with enforcing the Volstead act were ill equipped to deal with the flood of illegal booze. Along with rampant law breaking, Prohibition brought unexpected cultural and societal shifts from the development of mixed-gendered speakeasies to the growth of organized crime syndicated into national enterprises.
    The exhibit draws on the histories told from both sides of this divisive issue that riled passions and created volatile situations. In the end after a decade of wide-spread corruption, wavering public opinion, and the need to generate revenue from an alcohol tax, the 18th Amendment became the first ever repealed. With the passing of the 21st Amendment, Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933 to a very different America. Today, Prohibition’s legacy can be traced through state and local laws regulating alcohol, and a greater understanding of the problems that alcohol can cause.
    The Evanston History Center is proud to present this national exhibit in conjunction with our own exhibit exploring Evanston’s unique historic relationship with the effects of alcohol on the community, entitled Dry Evanston: The Untold Story. Spirited opens on September 1, 2019 and runs through October 20, 2019. Both exhibits are open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1:00 - 4:00. Admission is $10. In addition, EHC is pleased to offer a joint tour program with the Frances Willard House Museum through October 20th. Purchase one full-priced admission at either museum and get half off at the other. For more information, call EHC at 847-475-3410 or go to our website, evanstonhistorycenter.org.
Spirited: Prohibition in America is based on the exhibition American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, organized by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA, in collaboration with Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. Spirited has been made possible through NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It has been adapted and toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance. Founded in 1972, Mid-America Arts Alliance is the oldest regional nonprofit arts organization in the United States. For more information, visit www.maaa.org or www.nehontheroad.org.
225 Greenwood St., Evanston, IL 60201
Date/Time Information:
Thursday-Sunday, 1-4pm.
Contact Information:
Kris Hartzell
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