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Alcoholic Beverage Industry

Temperance Movement & Prohibition

This section has been included because the Temperance movement and Prohibition had a major impact on the alcoholic beverage industry in both the short and long term from a business perspective, so those looking at the industry it will be helpful to understand the associated people and organizations. Prohibition was not just about the 18th and 21st amendments - it has a longer history including early legislation in the states the Webb–Kenyon Act (Public law 62-398) in 1913. One thing to note is that even during Prohibition there still were some alcoholic beverages being produced. Several distillers were granted a permit to continue operations during Prohibition for medicinal purposes in Title II, sections 6 and 7 of the Volstead Act (Pub.L. 66-66; ch. 83, 41 Stat. 305-323) and wine was still produced for religious reasons. It might also be helpful to search on the repeal specifically Repeal Day (December 5, 1933) when the 21st Amendment was ratified at which point there was no federal regulation and the state's were responsible to its regulation. What happened after the 21st Amendment will also be of interest. This includes the development of the ABC or "package" stores run by the states and various blue laws enacted at the local level.

Two big issues to also search on. First were the "entrepreneurs" who did not hesitate to take advantage of these loopholes and second, the bad/diluted and even  poisonous alcohol that was produced and sold by unscrupulous bootleggers and sellers. Because there was quite a bit written on the testing of confiscated liquor to determine purity a few items around these topics have been included.

We have included material published at the time as well as more contemporary overviews as well as some non business information on the the people and groups as context. This includes a sample of the pamphlets, propaganda, and other materials but more of this type of literature - including publications from individual state organizations - can be found by searching our online catalog.  Search the Library's web page for more photographs, letters, music, and other material buried inside of larger collections that may otherwise not be an obvious source. For example, the Clara Barton papers has material related to the National Women's Christian Temperance Union and the papers of Abraham Lincoln has letters from representatives from various Temperance unions.

Please see our This Month in Business History entry on Prohibition for additional resource.

General Information & History

The following materials from the Library's collections examine general information and the history of the temperance movement and prohibition in the United States. The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

Search the Library's Catalog

Choose the topics you wish to browse from the selected subject headings below. Each heading will link directly to the Library of Congress Online Catalog and automatically execute a search allowing you to browse related subject headings. Please be aware that during periods of heavy use you may encounter delays in using the catalog. For assistance in locating other subject headings which relate to this subject, please Ask A Librarian.


Organizations and Agencies

There were many temperance societies, associations, and government agencies that published material but we cannot include all of them - here are a few. The below searches for for searching by subject which should be a good start, but it may not full reveal all of the related material but you can also search the organizations by author as well to find those things that they published.