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Prohibition: Topics in Chronicling America

On January 16, 1919, States ratified the 18th Amendment ushering in the Prohibition Era. This guide provides access to material related to the "Prohibition Amendment" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

"Nationwide prohibition won in the House... The margin for prohibition was just eight votes more than the necessary two-thirds of the membership of the House required for adoption and twenty-six more than two-thirds of those voting." December 18, 1917. New-York Tribune (New York, NY), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

In an effort to make the nation "bone dry" and protect families from the effects of alcohol abuse, breweries, saloons, and distilleries are forced to close their doors after the ratification of the 18th Amendment on January 16, 1919. Ushering in the Prohibition Era, the legal enforcement of the law one year later sent the message of "let rum alone" to Americans, but also gave rise to the illegal production and sale of liquor and increased gang-related violence. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

August 1, 1917 The Senate passes a resolution to present a constitutional amendment prohibiting the sale or consumption of alcohol to the states for ratification.
December 17‑18, 1917 The House of Representatives and the Senate pass a revised resolution.
January 16, 1919 The 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is certified, having been ratified by 46 states.
October 28-29, 1919 House and Senate pass Volstead Act over presidential veto.
January 17, 1920 Legal enforcement begins.