Skip to main content

How Prohibition Shaped the Twenties

This program is over. Hope you didn't miss it!

How Prohibition Shaped the Twenties

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0100
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
Select your Registration
Powered by Zoom

The 1920s is both one of the most vibrant and rebellious periods in modern American history as well the most socially conservative. A Constitutional amendment kicked off the decade by prohibiting the consumption of alcohol, threatening to muffle its ever-loudening, jazz-inflected roar. The intent was to solve some of the nation's most pressing social issues, including alcoholism, childhood malnutrition, and domestic violence. Instead Prohibition uncorked an exuberant cultural freedom and a host of new social problems, with heady effects still felt today.

Attempts to circumvent or profit from Prohibition gave crime new meaning, provoking a 12-year-long gang war that made Al Capone a household name. Women became more liberated, a sexual revolution got underway, and jazz transformed from an underground expression of the African American experience into the soundtrack of a new generation. Even the president himself drank in violation of the law.

Join Allen Pietrobon, an assistant professor of global affairs at Trinity Washington University and an award-winning historian, as he examines the role that alcohol played in American life leading up to Prohibition. How had drink become such a problem that the U.S. banned all “intoxicating beverages”? Why did Prohibition backfire so spectacularly? And how, in its defiance, did American society and culture change so dramatically throughout the 1920s?

Patron Information

  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
  • Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.