Nebraska State Historical Society Blog

Throwback Thursday Photo, Prohibition in Douglas County

Douglas County sheriffs after a raid on an illegal still, ca. 1922. [RG3348-10-11]

The Untouchables of Douglas County. In today’s Throwback Thursday photograph, members of the Douglas County Sheriff Department pose with illegal alcohol and still after a raid in about 1922.

The passage of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawed the manufacture and sale of liquor nationwide, but statewide prohibition was already in effect in Iowa and Nebraska. In 1916 Iowa went dry and Nebraska voters adopted a prohibitory amendment to their state constitution that took effect in May 1917. Enterprising individuals soon learned how to profit by flouting the law.

Bootlegging continued even after the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, banning liquor nationwide, was ratified in January 1919. Nebraska was not one of the thirty-six states (out of a total of forty-eight then) that later voted to ratify the Twenty-first Amendment to repeal national prohibition, but in November 1934 Nebraskans did vote to repeal the state's constitutional prohibition by a 60- to 40-percent margin.

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