“White Ribbon Army: Women’s Crusade Against the Saloon” takes a look at the Temperance Movement of the 19th century.
The exhibit, in the galleries of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library through May, draws material from several collections and is sponsored by the Lucy Hargrett Draper Center & Archives for the Study of the Rights of Women in History & Law (circa 1550-1920).
As the United States became urbanized and industrialized, many became concerned with social issues such as poverty and the perception of declining morals. A series of social and religious reforms, including the Temperance Movement, swept the country.
Progressive reformers saw the overconsumption of alcohol as threatening the domestic harmony of American homes. One of the most notable groups, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, fought for both temperance and women’s suffrage in the name of “home protection.” The open and frequent abuse of alcohol caused women to move their moral instruction to the public sphere. Temperance societies eventually began supporting legislation prohibiting the distribution and sale of alcohol.
The prohibition campaign peaked around WWI, but despite the high hopes of reformers prohibition failed to eradicate alcohol consumption among Americans. Instead of fostering sobriety and moral improvement, prohibition led to the establishment of organized crime, an illegal alcohol trade, and many Americans’ disregard for the law. After 13 years of rising crime and alcohol abuse, the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition in 1933.
“Wrestling Temptation: The Quest to Control Alcohol in Georgia,” on exhibit in the galleries of the Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, traces the struggle that state leaders have faced in regulating the production, transportation and use of alcohol from 1733 to the present. The exhibit explores issues of morality, economy and personal liberty entwined with the use and abuse of alcohol. It considers what made Georgia different by paying close attention to the adoption of statewide prohibition in 1907 and the reluctance of state officials to repeal that measure even in the face waning public support and dire financial times during the 1930s.