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Tobacco Industry: Sources of Historical Research

Tobacco Settlement

The second half of the 20th century saw a more intense effort to limit smoking. It came under even more scrutiny in the 1990s once activities of the tobacco companies like Brown & Williamson became more widely known and many legal cases were filed around the country.

Hearings were held in 1994 and 1998, and the Master Settlement Agreement that was agreed to in November 1988. The Settlement was originally between the four largest United States tobacco companies (Philip Morris Inc., R. J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard as the "original participating manufacturers") and the attorneys general of 46 states. The agreement settled the many lawsuits that had been brought against the various companies.

We have not included all of the material related to the settlement, but have included some material from the hearings and documents that came out of the Settlement. They contain information that is important to understanding how individuals companies operated and can be quite valuable in terms of understanding the history of industry. If you search the catalog, use tobacco settlement to find items that are national in scope as well as materials produced by, or of interest to, a particular state.

If you want to delve deeper, news sources can be used for looking at the history of anti-smoking efforts and the Settlement in particular, as news sources will provide a picture at a particular point in time and can provide details and context that might not make it into other sources. For example, a 1907 article from the Times Dispatch that looked at the "tobacco trust" included reference to J. B. Hunt's company that was broken up in 1911 as a result of the case United States v. American Tobacco Co., 221 U.S. 106 (1911).

Douglas Graham, photographer. Tobacco Settlement. April 20, 1998. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Video Recordings

For those who are interested in the hearings there is quite a bit of print material. However, many hearings before Congress are now recorded. This includes those related to the Tobacco Settlement that were recorded and are available.

Tobacco Settlement Documents

The documents that are part of the Tobacco Settlement cover many years and a wide range of types. They would be good for providing insight into the companies and industry over many years.