April 5 – May 25, 2018

Men & women drinking beer in rural setting, 1915, black-and-white photograph, courtesy Culver Pictures, Inc.

In a tumultuous era spanning thirteen years, Americans could no longer manufacture, sell, or transport intoxicating beverages. Prohibition was now a part of the Constitution, holding the same status as freedom of speech and the abolition of slavery. Ratified in 1919, the 18th Amendment stirred up a passionate and sometimes volatile debate between “wets” and “drys” that will forever cement Prohibition’s place in history.

Cider bottle, c. 1860-1880, hand-blown glass, 10 x 4 inches, private collection. Image: E.G. Schempf.

Spirited: Prohibition in America, a new traveling exhibition from NEH on the Road, brings visitors back to this period of flappers and suffragists, bootleggers and temperance lobbyists, and real-life legends, such as Al Capone and Carry Nation. Visitors will learn about the complex issues that led America to adopt Prohibition through the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 1919 until its repeal through the 21st Amendment in 1933.

Through the exhibition, visitors will learn about the amendment process, the changing role of liquor in American culture, Prohibitions impact on the roaring 20’s, and the role of women, and how current liquor laws vary from state to state.

Spirited: Prohibition in America is organized by the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA, in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance, Kansas City, MO.

Repeal Clydesdales in front of Capitol, 1933, black-and-white photograph, courtesy Anheuser-Busch Archives.
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