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Exhibit documents Washtenaw County’s history of substance abuse

  • Contact Maryanne George, E-mail: mageorge@umich.edu, Phone: (734) 615-6514

Carrie A. Nation (1846-1911), the "Vessel of Wrath," was 56 and at the peak of her fame on May 3, 1902, when, standing on the back of a horse-drawn cab at the corner of State Street and North University Avenue, she engaged in rollicking repartee with a boisterous crowd of Michigan students. Photo courtesy of U-M Bentley Historical Library.Carrie A. Nation (1846-1911), the "Vessel of Wrath," was 56 and at the peak of her fame on May 3, 1902, when, standing on the back of a horse-drawn cab at the corner of State Street and North University Avenue, she engaged in rollicking repartee with a boisterous crowd of Michigan students. Photo courtesy of U-M Bentley Historical Library.DATE: Opening reception noon-4 p.m. Feb. 4; exhibit on display Feb. 4 to April 29. Hours are noon-4 p.m. Saturdays/Sundays; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. Call for appointments on weekdays.

EVENT: "Bad Habits: Drinks, Drags, and Drugs in Washtenaw County History."

Washtenaw County and Ann Arbor have hosted many notable events in the history of mind and body-altering substances. This exhibit highlights some of these including the speech by temperance crusader Carrie Nation in 1902, performances by John Lennon and other bands in support of John Sinclair's efforts to legalize marijuana in 1971, and the opening and closing of a Pfizer research facility.

It also connects the county's history of drugs and alcohol to a larger, national story. The exhibit examines how Prohibition closed saloons and led to bootlegging and alcohol raids; how drug stores and pharmacies made big money in the 19th century selling magic cure-alls that were later regulated; and how smoking, an act once nearly universal, was recently banned on U-M's campus. It also offers a look at D.A.R.E. programs that teach kids to "Just Say No."

Medicine bottles from historic local pharmacies, memorabilia from local bars, recipe books with popular cure-alls, historical photographs, posters, news articles and documents are all part of the free public exhibit. Visitors are invited to add notes and photos about memories of their favorite bars, past and present. Photos can also be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The exhibit is a collaboration with U-M's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, U-M's Substance Abuse Research Center and the Washtenaw County Historical Society Museum on Main Street. It is part of the LSA Research Theme Semester "Hooked: Addiction, Society & Culture."

PLACE: The Museum on Main Street, 500 N. Main St., Ann Arbor.

INFORMATION: The Washtenaw County Historical Society, (734) 662-9092, www.WashtenawHistory.org

LSA theme semester: www.sitemaker.umich.edu/umsarc