The Chicago Archives of Alcohol: A self-guided tour

David Witter:

examples of Chicago’s alcohol-drenched history

Mentions the Lager Beer Riot of 1855 but focuses on bars that opened later in the 19th century and operated during the prohibition.

while a true museum will never be commissioned, several establishments still serve as de facto galleries showcasing the social, economic and political link between alcohol and Chicago’s storied past

Why will a museum not be commissioned? Because of attitudes toward alcohol in the U.S.? No wonder there are so many problems with alcohol on U.S. campuses. While not obliterated, the history of alcohol in that country is merely mentioned in passing. Of course, compulsory alcohol-awareness programs on campuses focus on the issue of drunk driving (with no discussion of alternatives, such as public transportation) or the “affects” (sic!) of alcohol on the body with little or no mention of alcohol’s cultural significance, its place in history, its social role, or even responsible drinking. Typical moral entrepreneur business.
Ah, well…

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About enkerli

French-speaking ethnographer, homeroaster, anthropologist, musician, coffee enthusiast. View all posts by enkerli

4 responses to “The Chicago Archives of Alcohol: A self-guided tour

  • Alexandre

    The CBS is a beer-appreciation club.
    http://chibeer.org/
    It also includes many craft brewers. Didn’t become a member but attended a couple of Thirst Fursday monthly meetings where great beer was sampled by all.
    Thanks for the note about UT. Should look into it. Those courses do exist but there’s still an anti-alcohol sentiment in U.S. academic contexts. A friend was berated by an instructor because he dared do a project on homebrewing as a ritual.

  • Seth Anderson

    No, I haven’t heard of the Chicago Beer Society. What is it?

    Also, while attending the University of Texas several years ago, there was a seminar about ‘History of Drugs/Alcohol in American History’. I wanted to take the class, but filled up rather quickly.

  • Alexandre

    And what’s rather specific to the U.S. is those cycles of “clean living” movements that Ruth Engs describes in her work.
    Of course, these movements then have impacts outside of the U.S., including the failed experiment of the Prohibition and the whole MADD thing. But it’s an interesting feature of U.S. “national culture” that ambivalence towards alcohol will imply huge social shifts.
    Still, craft brewers are fighting that fight and are proposing a more realistic view of alcohol and responsible drinking.
    As you’re in Chicago, do you know the Chicago Beer Society?

  • Seth Anderson

    Yes, it is very strange that even with the hard drinking heritage of the Puritans and other original settlers to the American continent, alcohol is vilified in our society. I would very much like to see a museum of ‘history of alcohol’ or something similar, in Chicago, or elsewhere. Pretty interesting topic, imho.

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