Imagine being responsible for a museum collection and coming across an artifact that appears to be melting before your eyes! That is exactly what happened at the Ford Conservation Center recently. Last year, we had received a group of objects from the Harry S. Truman Library. The library staff wanted us to write proposals for treatment ahead of an exhibit on President Truman’s experience during World War I. One of the objects was a seemingly ordinary celluloid protractor. When it came to us, it was clear and intact.
Prohibition was the law of the land by 1920, but the Prohibition Party was still uneasy. As the presidential campaign season got underway, they feared that neither a Republican nor a Democratic president could be trusted to vigorously enforce the new law. Already there were proposals to weaken prohibition by modifying the law to allow the manufacture of light wines and beer.