SPIRITED REPUBLIC exhibit tour at the National Archives


Hello, NARA nation! My name is Bruce
Bustard and I’m a senior curator here at
National Archives in Washington DC I’m standing out in front of the
entrance to the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery and we’re about to take a walking tour
of our newest exhibition Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American
History Spirited Republic Alcohol in American History is about the
love-hate relationship that Americans have with alcohol. It’s an exhibit that deals with the changing attitudes of the American people about alcohol and
also looks at that through the records of the National Archives and our
Presidential Libraries we’re standing here at the entrance of
the exhibition and when a visitor first comes into the
gallery he or she encounters what we’ve been calling our tower of jugs and sees the question: “how much did we
drink?” and this represents the amount of alcohol
that was consumed by Americans at a particular time in our history and so for example in 1830 we see that Americans consumed the astounding amount of about 7.1 gallons of alcohol per person per year. There are
four sections in Spirited Republic. I’m standing in front of the first section
which is entitled “Good Creature of God” this section emphasizes some of the positive associations that americans have had with alcohol and
the role of the federal government in some of the early part of American history this section also contains some beautiful patent drawings and label for
example we have in 1864 lithograph that went on the end of a whiskey barrel the second section of the exhibit is called Demonizing Drink, and that
deals with the rise to the temperance and prohibition
movement and some of the less positive associations that
Americans have made with alcohol for our history one of the most unique items that we
have in the Demonizing Drink section is this 1843 petition that protests the spirit ration in the United States
Navy. This petition is over 10 feet long and contains almost
400 signatures The Sober Nation section of the exhibition deals with the
Prohibition era in American history how the government tried to enforce prohibition. It also displays some credentials from prohibition agents. Displays the 18th amendment to the United States and it shows the
different ways that people tried to get around prohibition as well as be growing movement to repeal
the 18th amendment we have four audio-visual stations in the exhibition this one deals with the prohibition-era and it shows film of prohibition agents raiding bars and smashing beer barrels and bottles. The
audio-visual stations in Spirited Republic our motion activated
and they also contain sound domes which more clearly focus the
sound so that visitors can listen to the film. [from film: “outlawing all alcoholic liquor”] So I’m gonna walk in closer to the AV station you’ll notice that the sound
kicks in as I come close to it the Conditional Acceptance section of
the exhibition deals with more recent developments in
the history of alcohol in our country like how prohibition
ended and how businesses ramped up to meet the new demand for alcohol in post-prohibition America. For example
we have a display of 30 alcohol labels from our records of
the Patent and Trademark Office that are a variety of different beers wines and spirit. This part of the
exhibition highlights documents and artifacts such as a prototype for what would become a breathalyzer which
is called a “drunkometer” the federal government has used its public relations ability to warn about the dangers of alcohol whether that would be fetal alcohol
syndrome or alcoholism we also have public service
announcements warning about the dangers of alcohol abuse and drunken driving. [from film: “there’s one Shaq you’ll never see and that’s Shaq the drunk driver. That’s because I know drinking and driving don’t mix. So if you drink, don’t drive.”] just before we leave the gallery we have
a display of gifts and other artifacts that have
been used by presidents in the more recent period and we also have a video that emphasizes presidential toasts and the importance that toasting plays in diplomacy. we have several artifacts on display
from our Presidential Libraries for example here’s a cocktail set that
was used by President Franklin Roosevelt when he was governor of New
York during Prohibition and also when he was president we also
have on display some gifts the president’s receive for
example a decanter that was given to President
Reagan during his trip to Ireland and also a cask with a cassock riding on top of it that was given to President
Clinton and the glasses that were used by President
Ford and Secretary-General Brezhnev as they toasted the Helsinki Agreements. Alcohol is for better for worse something that has helped shape the course of American history and and has been an important part of our political and social life thanks for coming along on this virtual
tour of Spirited Republic. I hope you can come to
Washington DC and make it person [music]

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