Ohio Academy of History April 1-2, 2016, Stark Campus, Kent State University

The first two sessions and the video presentation were organized by Steve Siff (Miami University) on behalf of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society

Drink and Temperance in the Nineteenth Century Ohio River Valley

(Friday, April 1, 3:00-4:30)

Moderator: David Fahey, Miami University

Comments from the panel

“German Seed in Urban Soil: Brewers, Biergartenen, and Ethnic Community”

William H. Mulligan, Jr., Murray State

This presentation will focus on collision between the ethnic values of German-Americans and other ethnic groups regarding alcohol and the temperance and prohibition movement in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Borrowing from Terry Jordan’s study of German farmers in Texas, it will look at the cultural role of biergartenen and taverns primarily among German and Irish immigrants. The focus will be on this conflict in Ohio within a national context and role of
first temperance and later prohibition as efforts to compel assimilation to a particular vision of Americanism and American culture.

“Father Mathew’s Portrait: Varieties of Temperance in Antebellum Cincinnati”

Matthew Smith, Miami University Hamilton

On a literary tour in 1843, author Charles Dickens described “a great Temperance convention” in Cincinnati, comprising “several thousand men,” including “members of various Washington Auxiliary Temperance Societies,” marching bands, and “the Irishmen, who … mustered very strong with their green scarves; carrying their national Harp and their portrait of Father Mathew, high above the people’s heads.” The strong presence of these immigrants, devotees of Irish Catholic Father Theobald Mathew, belied the supposedly Protestant, nativist character of temperance reform, demonstrating surprising levels of inter-ethnic solidarity among the Queen City’s working class. As this paper argues, the unique social, geographic, and sectarian landscape of antebellum Cincinnati made the issue of temperance both extraordinarily compelling and extraordinary complex. Organized temperance dated back to at least 1832, when cholera ravaged the streets, and Lyman Beecher, the New England-born co-founder of the American Temperance Society first arrived to assume the Presidency of Lane Theological Seminary. But other tendencies soon emerged within the movement, including Catholic immigrant groups, radical working-class societies, and nativist committees of vigilance, contesting and challenging the leadership of Midwestern Protestant clergy over this burgeoning cultural issue.

“Temperance Songs in American School Songbooks, 1865-1899”

Paul Sanders, Ohio State University Newark

 The period from 1865 to 1900 proved to be a period of tremendous growth for music education in the United States, and a time of renewed activity for the temperance movement. Numerous single-volume school songbooks were published, and several sources note the inclusion of temperance songs in these songbooks. By conveying the temperance message to school children, reformers both indoctrinated those children to temperance ideology and used them as intermediaries to convey the message of temperance to their parents and other adults. This study examines temperance songs included in 103 school songbooks from this period, noting common themes and tactics employed by temperance lyricists and variations in dominant themes across this thirty-five year span.

“‘They drink a great deal, swear a great deal, and gamble a great deal’: Drink and Society in Louisville in the 1820s”

Aaron Hoffman, Community College of Allegheny County

From its beginning as a frontier town to its emergence into a thriving river city, Louisville struggled to cope with social problems caused by alcohol. This paper will discuss the negative image the city, with its large number of young male transient laborers, gained as a hard-drinking, vice-ridden river port and how a small number of the morally and religiously-minded Louisvillians attempted to stop the rampant disorder in the 1820s. Many of the community’s political and social leaders were more concerned about economic improvements rather than these moral issues and thus the heavy drinking of the city was largely unchanged.

Drink and Temperance: Literature, Rum and Central Asia

(Saturday, April 2, 2:30-4:00)

 Moderator and Comments: Scott Martin, Bowling Green

“Temperance, Woman’s Rights, and Immigration in the fiction of Lillie Devereux Blake”

Jon Miller, University of Akron

Written while the southern-born and New York-based writer, Lillie Devereux Blake (1835-1913), was engaged with the National Woman Suffrage Association, the political novel Fettered for Life (1874) endorses more equal treatment for women in marriage and in the workplace through an exploration of then-popular Republican theories of temperance and immigration in American life. This presentation will summarize, contextualize, and interpret the novel’s call for all well-educated American men and women to regard Gilded Age temperance reform as the solution to political and social evils it associates with immigration. In doing so it was also demonstrated how subtly politicized temperance narratives could be in the 1870s.

“Re-(de-) Colonizing The Mind:  Rum and the Rise of US Imperialism”

Jennifer Nesbitt, Penn State York

This paper argues that rum increasingly becomes a sign of the deleterious effects of US imperialism in the Caribbean Basin in later 20th-century literature.   Earlier literature locates rum as a product of exploitative economic and personal relationships that arise from European colonization and enslavement, but more recent novels shift rum’s historical markers to reference US exploitation.  Tiphanie Yanique’s 2014 Land of Love and Drowning underscores the impoverishment of the culture of the Virgin Islands by invoking the history of rum-and-Coca-Cola, and Diana McCauley’s 2012 Hurucan links contemporary plantation tourism to alcoholism in Jamaica.  By delineating the historical context embedded in the mundane presence of rum, I highlight the colonial scripts that strongly resist the imagination of liberating postcolonial narratives.

“Chastise me when you find me sober”: Drinking Culture in Islamic Central Asia

Stephanie Honchell, Fairleigh Dickinson University

This paper will move beyond the rhetoric of religious prohibition to explore the role of alcohol in Islamic Central Asian society. Contrary to popular belief, the Islamic prohibition of alcohol is fairly ambiguous and religious scholars have offered a variety of interpretations regarding the acceptability of certain types or quantities of alcohol, leading to the establishment of drinking cultures that are both dynamic and religiously legitimate. By exploring the contexts of alcohol consumption under the fifteenth-century Timurid dynasty, it is possible to not only understand and explain larger cultural and religious trends, but also to move beyond monolithic portrayals of Islam and Muslims throughout history.


“Freak Out: Psychedelic Cinema of the 1960s”

(Video Screening will be after the Distinguished Historians’ Lecture, and is scheduled to begin at 8:15 Friday evening)

Stephen Siff, Miami University

Ringo Jones, Miami University

In the 1960s and 1970s, film and television producers released a stream of films that were represented as replicating the experience of psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD. Many of the films, including commercial successes such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (tagline: “Take the Ultimate Trip”) and the re-released Fantasia (whose posters depicted dancing mushrooms and hookah-smoking caterpillars) were used by audience members to enhance and direct drug experiences initiated through traditional means. Television documentaries and entertainment programs also included dramatic depictions of psychedelic drug effects. The films and television programs offer a rare opportunity to experience the promise of drugs for an earlier generation.

This event will consist of an approximately 40 minute presentation of a documentary comprised of clips from period movies and television programs, followed by a discussion period.

Drug Control, Race, and Incarceration: Scholarly and Pedagogical Approaches

(Saturday, 9-10:30)

In the second half of the twentieth century the number of incarcerated Americans grew exponentially. Though many factors contributed to the expansion of the carceral state, the national war on drugs played a major role. Lawmakers, sensing a winning political issue, touted anti-drug measures that increased funding for apprehensions and seizures and implemented punitive prison sentences for offenders. Though drug use and dealing occurred across society, policymakers concentrated their efforts on the poor and racial minorities. As historians demonstrate, prohibitionists were often more concerned over who was using drugs than the nature of the illicit substance. However, support for the drug war came from many corners of society, including large numbers of blacks and Latinos, as the majority of Americans believed that drug use and sales contributed to high crime rates and societal decay.

This panel traces the history of the drug war and mass incarceration from the post-World War II era to the present. Sarah Brady Siff examines the diverse responses to anti-drug campaigns in the Los Angeles area in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Will Cooley explores reactions to Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke’s call for a public health approach to drug use and abuse. Benjamin Sperry details his teaching experience as an instructor inside Lorain Correctional Institution. The chair/comment is Chief Bruce Lawver of the Canton Police Department. In his time as chief, Lawver has implemented a plethora of innovative programs and directives, such as problems-oriented policing, hot spots strategies, and law enforcement-directed diversion strategies for drug users. This panel addresses the American incarceration crisis from a variety of angles, with an emphasis on drugs.


Sarah Brady Siff, Ohio State

Will Cooley, Walsh University

Benjamin Sperry, Case Western

Chair/Comment: Bruce Lawver, Canton Police Department