Tag Archives: archives

Oklahoma and prohibition

I’ve been a little fixated on my ancestor Andrew Holt lately, mostly because it’s been relatively easy to find a couple newspaper articles on his death.  Since I posted the last article I came across more newspaper bits that relate to him.  On one hand I’d like to pick a more obscure relative to research, but obscurity often doesn’t leave a very obvious paper trail, so for now pardon my obsession with the bootlegging/Prohibition related relative.  I’ll do my best not to glorify or harangue any of the participants too much.

My great grandma Julia Holt Hickman's oldest brother in the papers.  Oklahoma Weekly Leader, 1922 January 19.

My great grandma Julia Holt Hickman’s oldest brother in the papers. Oklahoma Weekly Leader, 1922 January 19.

I picked up a book on Prohibition in Oklahoma called Born Sober: Prohibition in Oklahoma, 1907-59 by Jimmie Lewis Franklin, published in 1971.  Before big “P” federal Prohibition was passed and went into effect in 1920, Oklahoma had little “p” prohibition.  Before statehood Oklahoma was divided between Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory.  Indian Territory was always dry, and when Oklahoma became a state in 1907 (uniting the two territories), it too went dry.

Born Sober mentions a saloonkeeper in Ponca City, who reacted to statewide prohibition by posting this statement above his business, “Hush little saloon, don’t you cry; you’ll be a drug store, by and by.” (Franklin 24)  I wish the book had more tasty tidbits like that.  It’s a great statewide overview, but leans more toward political machinations than cultural history.  I also think there is something to be said about race and alcohol prohibition, but maybe someone else wrote that book between 1971 and the present day.  I haven’t done any research on that yet.

I do give the author props for at least touching on the role of religion in the prohibition debate.  Catholics (often more recent immigrants) were sacramental wine users, while Protestants (who made up the majority of Oklahomans at the time) didn’t need booze to satisfy the rituals of their religious practice, and were more likely to be vehemently anti-booze.  For the record, my Oklahoma relatives were somewhere in the Methodist-Episcopal-Baptist range.  Andrew Holt’s grandpa was itinerant minister Thomas Crutcher Holt.  T.C. Holt  is an entire series of posts on his own, so I’ll leave that there for now.

Anywhoo, statewide prohibition was difficult to enforce (hey, just like federal Prohibition a decade or so later).  Local sentiment played a big role in whether or not enforcement was feasible in particular regions.  It was also expensive to enforce and difficult to control liquor coming over the border from wet states. (Franklin 37-40).  Despite enforcement difficulties and attempts to amend or do away with prohibition of alcohol in Oklahoma, the statewide ban remained.

There are some nitty gritty details on the particulars of alcohol prohibition – things like adjustments in the enforcement of the law, restrictions, and the exception that allowed individuals to get a prescription for alcohol from their doctor.  There is also a lot to be said about the background of the whites who moved to Oklahoma before and after statehood, and how that came into play in terms of the political power dynamics.  And, even after federal Prohibition ended in the early 1930s, Oklahoma still had another form of state alcohol prohibition.

For family history purposes in this particular case study I’m going to stick to the 1900-1933 period and keep it general unless it directly pertains to my family in Love County.  I’m mostly interested in better understanding the context of the 1922 shooting of my relative Andrew Holt in Marietta, OK, and any other info is bonus material.

I really hope someone has a picture of him somewhere.  I’d love to put a face with a name.  I do have several pictures of his youngest sister, my great grandma Julia Holt Hickman.  She died when I was young, but I did get to meet her on several occasions.  My Mom was really close to her and has told me a lot of very nice things about her, so I’ll have to do a post on her sometime.

(Researching alcohol prohibition has been a nice build up to the Boardwalk Empire premiere in September!  I can’t wait.  It’s like a birthday present to me – sensationalized history with some of the best costuming and set design.  And the music!  Only place on modern TV to have 1920s dance tunes show up that I can sing along to.  I’m still ecstatic “Barney Google” was at the end of last season……”with the goo goo googly eyes….”  So cool.)

Grandparents and parents.

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Margaret and Donald Hickman with my Uncle and Mom. February 1959 and probably in Garden Grove, CA

I went to a clothing swap on Saturday that confirmed my belief that 1950s and 1960s dresses are my thing.  I still think the early 1930s are my most favorite fashion years, but I wasn’t built to wear those styles.

I’m glad Don Draper on Mad Men is finally becoming aware of his alcoholism.  My grandpa Don was also an alcoholic in the 1950s and 1960s (and other decades).  I hope Don Draper can move beyond his drinking problem and not let it kill him in the 1980s like it did my Don.

My grandparents lived in Southern California for awhile in their younger years.  Don was a Seabee in the Navy at Port Huaneme (and other non-SoCal locales), and then he and my Grandma lived in Los Angeles and Orange County for a bit before they ended up back in Oklahoma.

I haven’t found documentation, but when Don was a little kid I think his parents brought him out to California at least once in the 1930s.  It seems like he had a very unstable childhood.  I’ve always thought his dad James Aubrey Hickman (who I call “Pa” because that’s what my Mom called him) was handsome in photos.  I think he was also an alcoholic?  Maybe I’ll post about Pa next.

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Machiko and James Furnier with my Dad, circa 1960-1961. Could’ve been taken in Montana or Okinawa or Ohio or elsewhere. I’m sure someone knows where. I should ask.

I didn’t get to know my Furnier grandparents very well before they passed away.  My Grandpa James was big into genealogy, which is one of the few things I know about him.  He did a lot of research on the Furniers, back in the days before the internet.  As genealogy torchbearer I’ve been debating creating some kind of online database with all the genealogy related materials digitized and organized.  I don’t think of myself as owner of any of it; I think of myself as steward of materials that belong to the whole family.

For now I’m just going to start posting more about genealogy on this blog.  It seems to be one of the few subjects I feel inclined to ramble about.  Writer’s block is no match for genealogy musings.

So much for this being about my professional life.

1. Studying for Archival Certification exam.  Drank a beer and then dropped (too much) money on books (the beer softened the financial blow) for book order part one (it’s like being in college, except you don’t get student loans, instead you are simultaneous trying to pay the undergrad and grad loans back while becoming an employable professional, hah, oh life). I already have a handful of books from grad school and there are a few places around town where I can read the older ones, but nearby libraries don’t have the newer archival books – too expensive and specialized I guess?

2. Nothing makes me feel more feminist than insurance companies and the way they handle birth control in the U.S.  I’ve had four different health insurance companies over the past three years (both PPO and HMO) and none of these companies will let me pick up more than one month’s worth of birth control at a time, even if the doctor’s prescription specifies 3 pack pick up at a time.  Ridiculous.  What am I going to do, OD on hormones?  Give them out to teenage girls with disapproving parents?  All it does is cause me extra hassle and trips to the pharmacy for the same exact number of pills I would get whether or not I picked them up every month or every three months.

My friend who recently returned from studying and living in Germany for two years told her German doctor that she would be without health insurance for a few months once she got back to the U.S.  The doctor prescribed a year’s worth of birth control (like in the U.S.), and then my friend went to the pharmacy and picked up the year’s worth of birth control (not like in the U.S.).  Why can’t it be that simple here?

3. Game of Thrones is over for another season, sigh. But True Blood is coming back next week, hooray!

4. I’ve decided to write a fictional horror western story.  I have some ideas floating around, should be fun.

5. I’m going to Oklahoma and Texas in a few weeks for family time vacation.  I can’t wait for these next weeks to go by.

6. I feel like I’m treading water at work, treading in a sea of newspaper clippings.  I never thought I’d look forward to rehousing sheet music, but I sure am!

7. I’ve become addicted to a 2.5 mile loop at Griffith Park and the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook stairs by Culver City

8. Visited Amir’s Garden in Griffith Park last weekend.  It was lovely!  Sadly I hiked up without a camera.

This is the only recent picture I’ve taken:

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Mr. H made Aloo Gobi from scratch lastlast weekend. It was delicious! This weekend I made blackened chicken again and a chopped salad, but didn’t take pictures. Tonight I discovered how simple it is to jazz up couscous from the bulk bins instead of buying the boxed stuff with the powder flavorings. Winwinwin.

Research and Rest.

Astroturf at a food truck fundraiser event I went to a few weeks ago.

Rounding the corner, leaving October behind and greeting November with a sigh of relief.  Sigh.  This is researching for the research paper month – gotta find enough useful primary and secondary sources to round out 40 pages of worthwhile prose.  I’m planning my attack of the Margaret Herrick Library; to dive into film fan magazines and film publicity.  Two papers:

(a) the image of Mexican immigrant actresses in early 1930s film

(b)the image of the “British” character in American films of the 1930s

I am less sure about (b) and need to go meet with a professor on that one.  Sometimes I start to feel like a one trick pony, what with my obsession with early 1930s film and every possible facet of it.

We’re entering the Cold War in the early 20th century popular culture class I TA for, which makes me a little nervous.  My Cold War history is pretty chilly – old bits of knowledge frozen away at the back of my brain.  Hopefully this class will thaw it out.

In the meantime, I had an absolutely relaxing weekend for once – convenient, as I got sick!  Ugh.  Talk about unfortunate (or fortunate?  I still haven’t decided).  Spent some time at the Dia de Los Muertos celebration Saturday evening, held at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  I had a great time, but ran of out steam near the end of it and had to go home early to curl up into the fetal position under a pile of blankets.  I’m still working on that 100% feeling, but this week should give me time to research and rest.

At work I’m still chugging along on the collection.  I’m nearing the end of the publications series and am just starting to chip away at the Press and Publicity segment.  Should be an interesting week!  I like publications, but they are often not particularly unique.

LA.

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Culver City and Los Angeles from Culver City Park

I returned to Los Angeles at the end of August and encountered a giant workload which has kept me from having any sort of time/motivation to update this blog. However, I haven’t forgotten it exists! I’d like to continue to record my professional and personal adventures as a young adult type person, now returned to the City of Angels (and maybe also do a little reflecting on the close of this summer’s work).

There are four general threads that currently run through my life at the moment:
(1) Finishing my final year of grad school
(2) Processing a collection at my wonderful new/old Western Museum workplace
(3) Repping for the City of Los Angeles’ SurveyLA project
(4) Being as involved as possible with the Los Angeles archival scene

My other non-official duties involve:
(1) Sweeping up copious amounts of dog hair at home (from my roommate’s adorable but super shedding pup)
(2) (attempting to) Feed myself somewhat nutritious homemade things (takes time, time, time! sigh)
(3) Find time for boyfriend and friends (Time?! What is this?)

First though, I’ve gotta finish up a historiography paper on immigration. Personally, I find the topic of “immigration” a little broad for a concise 8-10 pager, but that’s what the boss ordered, so I’ve gotta deliver. One paper coming right up!

Bird.

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Working in the archive is punctuated by helping out other parts of the museum. Last week volunteers (and staff) dressed up for a mini-performance in one of the historic houses. This is the post-performance performance, haha.

I recently worked on three boxes of the collection that had lived in someone’s barn for decades (and apparently had a bird at some point crawl in and die, leaving behind a bird silloutte and little feathers all over a group of papers). These papers were (unsurprisingly) absolutely disgusting. Yikes! Though cleaning up the papers provided a welcome change of pace.

So far it’s been a weird combination of me making things up and looking up suggestions online. My supervisor sometimes makes statements like “it absolutely doesn’t matter what order the materials were in originally” that sort of blow my mind. I was pretty sure that taking note of the original arrangement (if there is one) was something worth doing. I was also criticized for sorting in piles, because when you sort you are not suppose to make piles?! (I’m not quite sure what that means!) At this point I feel like I was absolutely spoiled with all the knowledge and help from others at my last internship. I am a bit hesitant to mention these sorts of things on a public blog, especially as there are some helpful moments, but it is a part of what is shaping my experience here so it feel dishonest not to consider all aspects of the internship.

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Cats in the archive! An envelope of kitten photos somehow ended up wedged in between photos of buildings of York. This should probably return to the collection’s original owner.

Roots.

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The bulk of the Peter Moore Collection is comprised of 20th century photographs and business related papers. Here is junk mail sent to Roger Norton, a local businessman. I’ve come to realize I love old junk mail!

What a past few weeks it’s been!

Once training finished I got a chance to start getting into my big project for the summer – the Peter Moore Collection. Peter Moore was (and is) a firefighter in the York area. He started collecting local postcards, both old and new, that documented the changes of the York area. He also began collecting all kind of local ephemera, especially of items that documented local businesses and celebrations – business cards, brochures, flyers, photographs, and publications. In the 1990s and early 2000s he wrote an article for the local paper on Unknown Histories of the area.There are a lot of duplicates to be weeded out, and a lot of photocopies of materials he found in the Museum for his article research.

I’m glad I reboxed 115 boxes of material earlier in the year – 38 boxes and a handful of binders don’t seem all that terrible to tackle. I’ve been seriously digging into the collection in the past week, and I’m almost halfway through an initial sorting!

The Museum has its roots as a historical society, and its roots still show in some places, particularly in the part of the Museum where I work. The project so far has been a great experience in terms of working through a collection and researching information for the finding aid, but I haven’t been learning as much about the technical details of archiving as I’d hoped. To make up for that I’ve been doing a lot of online research, reading the SAA list-serv archive and searching other museums and archives for advice on the handling of particular collection items and how to make a finding aid that is up to current standards.

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Inside the 1930s junk mail envelope – a penny to be used for mailing in the contest entry slip.