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CharacterInWhite
02-08-2012, 04:42 AM
Research for a book that I will not seriously pursue for a long (long, long, long) time. Where possible, I'd like primary sources for:

-Prohibition culture: Specifically the sorts of procedures a speakeasy might enact to guarantee security, safer shipping or transportation of goods, etc. What was it like to attend a University before, during, and after The Great Depression? What was the status (both legal and perceived) of women's rights? What books were written during the era, and what books already written were popular?

-Slang & terminology: Where possible I want to use the appropriate vernacular :D if there are any good period books, I can probably pick up the vernacular from them.

-Technology: What did your average rum runner have available for firearms, cars, and other accessories (matches? smokes?). Another one easily solved by reading period books.

-Law: What the penalties were for attending or hosting a speakeasy, as well as for bootlegging or being caught drunk.

-Fashion: I might need less help in this department (I know a girl from a local specialty store), but will still take references.

So, besides wikipedia (to which any academic will shudder--or at least cast a wary gaze), where should I go to immerse myself in some 1920s American culture?

alleycat
02-08-2012, 07:11 AM
Did you watch the recent Prohibition series by Ken Burns on PBS?

Many of the "talking heads" on the series have written books on Prohibition. After the series aired I got one on flappers in order to learn more about Lois Long, the writer for the New Yorker.

CharacterInWhite
02-08-2012, 09:34 AM
Did you watch the recent Prohibition series by Ken Burns on PBS?

Many of the "talking heads" on the series have written books on Prohibition. After the series aired I got one on flappers in order to learn more about Lois Long, the writer for the New Yorker.

Sounds like just the ticket. Is the series simply titled "Prohibition"? Do you know any of the names behind it (helps with internet searches)?

Edit: Ken Burns. Now I see it. Derp.

frimble3
02-08-2012, 12:22 PM
-Technology: What did your average rum runner have available for firearms, cars, and other accessories (matches? smokes?). Another one easily solved by reading period books.

Aside from cars, let's not forget boats: On the East Coast, the West Coast and across the Great Lakes, Canadians oozed booze across the border. (And up from the Caribbean, which is where the 'rum' in rum-runner came from.) This might be useful, depending on where your story is set.

alleycat
02-08-2012, 01:47 PM
Sounds like just the ticket. Is the series simply titled "Prohibition"? Do you know any of the names behind it (helps with internet searches)?

I'm sure the full series will be back on TV soon and/or be online.

Here's a link to some short clips and previews: http://www.pbs.org/search/?q=prohibition&mediatype=Video

And one on Lois Long: http://video.pbs.org/video/2082501823

And yes, it was just titled Prohibition.

MeretSeger
02-09-2012, 04:27 AM
And beyond cars...don't forget trucks. My grandpa drove rum trucks from the Canadian border when he was only 13. I guess they thought he wouldn't get in as much trouble?

simoleons and "23 skidoo" for slang.

Chase
02-09-2012, 06:06 AM
From Great Falls, Montana, a gravel road called The Bootlegger Trail once ran straight north and across the border into Alberta. Sometimes the booze flowed north, sometimes south.

Parts of Bootlegger Trail are still there.

Xelebes
02-09-2012, 08:09 AM
From Great Falls, Montana, a gravel road called The Bootlegger Trail once ran straight north and across the border into Alberta. Sometimes the booze flowed north, sometimes south.

Parts of Bootlegger Trail are still there.

Hoo-whee! Fort Whoop-Up! :D

WriteKnight
02-09-2012, 09:23 PM
Yeah, I second the recommendation for Ken Burns "Prohibition". I thought I was well versed in the lore, but he hit some points that surprised me. Buy it, rent it, watch it. A really good way to get a base line perspective and all the aspects of the era. Legal, social, political.

I'm told my Paternal grandfather was in the 'supply' biz. My dad tells stories about it.

Richard White
02-10-2012, 12:42 AM
Google Elizebeth Friedman. She was one of America's first female cryptanalysts and worked closely with the U.S. Customs and Coast Guard to break the codes of the rum runners during prohibition.

Here's an interesting article on her.

http://sallyjling.org/2011/07/31/elizebeth-friedman-fascinating-women-of-prohibition/

Also, quite a bit of information on her at the National Cryptologic Museum at Ft. Meade, MD.

Chase
02-11-2012, 11:30 AM
Hoo-whee! Fort Whoop-Up! :D

I love Fort Hamilton -- Fort Whoop-Up now.

My all-time favorite fort in Alberta is Fort McLoud in the town of same name.

Xelebes
02-11-2012, 12:39 PM
That's Fort MacLeod. :)

Fort Edmonton didn't get much. Although it was besieged in the Cree-Blackfoot War in the 1870s.

Chase
02-11-2012, 12:58 PM
That's Fort MacLeod.

Thanks. The main drag of my home town, Big Timber, Montana, is McLoud Street. I switched one for the other.

mtrenteseau
03-31-2012, 08:44 AM
Jack Kriendler's "Every Day Was New Year's Eve" is a history of the '21' Club from its days as a speakeasy until the mid-nineties. He was the youngest brother of one of the founders, so he came into the business late but was very observant during the Prohibition era.

Medievalist
03-31-2012, 08:58 AM
Super book:

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.
Daniel Okrent. Scribners, 2010.

NYT review (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/books/review/Oshinsky-t.html?pagewanted=all).

blacbird
03-31-2012, 10:03 AM
One of the principal security measures used by prohibition violators was corrupting police and other authorities.

caw

Spy_on_the_Inside
03-31-2012, 11:25 AM
It's actually said that several crimal gangs and even the Mafia came out of prohibition.

blacbird
03-31-2012, 11:32 AM
It's actually said that several crimal gangs and even the Mafia came out of prohibition.

The Mafia were around well before Prohibition, but it fit their business model quite well. The most infamous Prohibition-fueled gangs, however, were in Chicago, most notable being the one taken over by Al Capone. He was Italian, but not Sicilian, and not Mafia. His famous rival gang, the Northsiders, were mainly Irish.

caw

underthecity
03-31-2012, 04:29 PM
This might help (http://allensedge.com/prohibition.html). This is an expanded chapter for a book I wrote in 2005. It's all about how Prohibition affected Cincinnati and everyday life.

Alessandra Kelley
03-31-2012, 04:48 PM
Frederick Lewis Allen wrote a history of the 1920s, titled "Only Yesterday" so early that Prohibition was still going on and he assumed it was the new reality. Not how he put it, of course, but he wrote how bizarre it was that as recently as 1918 people could simply buy wine and drink it, when now, of course (and clearly from his attitude for the foreseeable future) alcohol was difficult and illegal to attain.

It doesn't have a lot about the Depression per se. In fact, I'm not even sure he uses the word. But it's an excellent, entertaining history of how America got there, and great for background of how a person of about 1933 would think about recent history.

blacbird
04-01-2012, 07:39 AM
Frederick Lewis Allen wrote a history of the 1920s, titled "Only Yesterday" so early that Prohibition was still going on and he assumed it was the new reality.

It doesn't have a lot about the Depression per se. In fact, I'm not even sure he uses the word.

For good reason. It was published in 1931, and basically covered the decade of the 1920s. The Stock Market Collapse happened near the end of 1929, and I'm not sure how soon the term "Depression" came into vogue to describe the economic disaster that followed.

But he later wrote an equally good sequel, Since Yesterday. I read them both many years ago, and recommend them highly.

caw

jaksen
04-01-2012, 04:23 PM
I just found a small diary belonging to my great-grandfather who was a middle-aged man during Prohibition. It casually mentions prohibition, and then on following pages: Bought keg of beer, then its price. Or bought whiskey off -- man's name. Or picked elderberries, and then later, made elderberry wine, six bottles.

It was all very casual, as if to say, Prohibition, what? He continued to occasionally buy or make the liquor he wanted.

He lived in a small town in southeastern MA, so maybe he was too small to bother with, but I have the feeling many did the same.

Dave Hardy
04-04-2012, 07:45 PM
And beyond cars...don't forget trucks. My grandpa drove rum trucks from the Canadian border when he was only 13. I guess they thought he wouldn't get in as much trouble?


On the Texas border they were known as "horsebackers" since that was the preferred mode of transport. It's easier to get a horse across the river and through the brush than a vehicle. Even today Border Patrol still employs mounted agents.

The Border had a reputation as the scene of many shoot-outs between Rangers, Border Patrol, and contrabandistas.

Dave Hardy
04-04-2012, 07:49 PM
Hoo-whee! Fort Whoop-Up! :D

Coolest name for a frontier outpost of sin and depravity as there ever was. It became the Mounties' HQ, right?

I used it as part of the setting for a "Northern" I wrote a few years back.