November 17, 2020
“Born Dry: Prohibition in Oklahoma” Photography Exhibit to Open at the Oklahoma History Center
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma History Center (OHC) will open a new photography exhibit entitled “Born Dry: Prohibition in Oklahoma” on Wednesday, November 25. Featuring 25 black and white photographs taken during the decades-long fight over prohibition in Oklahoma, the exhibit explores the debate over the legality of alcohol sales through imagery.
As Oklahoma’s Favorite Son Will Rogers once said, “Oklahomans will vote dry as long as they can stagger to the polls.” When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, prohibition was accepted as part of the state’s constitution. Despite changing national views on prohibition—first with the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution establishing national prohibition in 1919 and then the passage of the 21st Amendment repealing prohibition in 1933—the fight over liquor laws and efforts to control bootlegging remained steady in Oklahoma.
In 1958 J. Howard Edmondson was elected governor of Oklahoma. He believed that Oklahomans should either vote to legalize the sale of liquor or should do without all illegal liquor in the state. His appointment of Joe Cannon as commissioner of public safety led to the infamous “Cannon raids” on businesses across Oklahoma. Soon, a special election for the repeal of prohibition was set. On April 7, 1959, statewide prohibition was repealed, leaving a local option provision.
“Born Dry” will be located in the Chesapeake Event Center and Gallery in the OHC, and will be on display for a year. The Chesapeake Event Center and Gallery can be used to hold meetings and events, so patrons should call in advance to make sure the room is open to the public on the day of your visit.
The Oklahoma History Center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please visit www.okhistory.org/historycenter or call 405-522-0765 for more information.
The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.