Episode 201: Carry A. Nation

In this episode of The Reference Desk, Katie is bewitched by the saloon-smashing, hatchet-wielding, temperance leader Carry A. Nation. 

In the fight for prohibition, no one waged war like Carry Nation. After a hard childhood that ended in a brief marriage to an alcoholic, Carry became involved in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Finding no success in the usual campaigns of letter-writing and prayer circles, Carry took it upon herself to deliver the message in a more direct way. She became famous for smashing saloons with her trademark hatchet while preaching about the sins of alcohol to anyone unfortunate enough to be within earshot. Carry Nation was largely written off by historians as a religious hysteric, but by examining her actions in the context of the woman’s suffrage movement, we can see Carry played an integral role in our nation’s progress. 

Recommended titles (available in our bookshop): 

The Haunting of Leigh Harker by Darcy Coates

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Carry A. Nation: Retelling the Life by Fran Grace

Smashing the Liquor Machine: A Global History of Prohibition by Mark Lawrence Schrad

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee


Roots of Prohibition

Carry Nation biography

Historic Missourians: Carry A. Nation

Carry Nation on History.com

Another Carry bio

Smithsonian mag on Carry nation

Hatchet Nation-Slate

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