Criminal – Carry A. Nation


Episode 73: Carry A. Nation

Series: Criminal

Release Date: August 17, 2017
Producer and Host: Phoebe Judge

Episode Link:

Tags: History, Gender, Prohibition, Temperance, Progressive Era, 1800s, 1900s, Alcohol, Protest, Women, Gilded Age, Women’s history, Consumption, Regulation


Narrative/Microhistory The episode is a short overview of Carry Nation’s leadership in the Temperance Movement at the turn of the century. You learn about how the hatchet became a symbol of her fiery political agenda in the Progressive era.

Notes: Kera Lovell: I really like assigning this podcast because it is edited well, using Carry Nation to tell the story of women’s involvement in the Temperance Movement. Students who have never heard of her often reflect on how surprised they are to hear about her radical protest tactics.


Assignment Ideas:

1) Primary Source Analysis, Group Discussion Ideas: You might be able to get some ideas from PBS’s History Detectives site on Prohibition:  The website also includes lesson plans on how to incorporate clips from the website into your teaching that might be helpful if you want to highlight multiple themes, for example the connections between xenophobia and prohibition in this era:

2) Digital Archive, Primary Source Analysis: There are a wide variety of digitized sources on the Prohibition era. The Westerville Public Library has a digitized collection of flyers and political cartoons on the Anti-Saloon League:

3) Small Group Work, Primary Source Analysis: The Digital Public Library of America could be a good starting point for finding ways to connect the Temperance Movement with the Suffrage Movement within the context of the New Woman. There are small digital collections on teach topic. A tactic I’ve used is printing off a selection of 3-4 primary sources (a photo, an op-ed, a political cartoon, and an article) and having students work in groups to analyze how all of the pieces can be put together to reveal the broader historical context of the era. You can even push further and have them work together to form a thesis statement about the topic/sources. If you assigned each small group a different group of sources (even on different topics), the groups could then report their findings to the class. The Library of Congress similarly has a small collection of sources on prohibition:

4) Game: If you have time to burn, the Mob Museum has a fun trivia section that can teach students information on the social and cultural history of drinking in the Prohibition era, including trivia on speakeasies and organized crime. (Keep in mind, the website glamorizes crime.)


Potential Reflection Questions:

1) What were the gender dynamics of the Temperance Movement?

2) Why might women be more heavily involved in regulating alcohol than men?

3) How did race and class impact women’s involvement in the Temperance Movement?

4) How are the issues of temperance and women’s suffrage connected?

5) Why do you think the WCTU succeeded in its efforts to ban alcohol?

6) Comparison to today: Identify similar efforts to prohibit vices in the US today. What substances are being prohibited and who are the people seeking to prohibit substances? Are they succeeding? Why or why not?

7) Comparison to today: Because of Carry Nation, the hatchet became a symbol of the prohibition movement. What symbols do substance prohibition movements use today? Compare and contrast the uses and meanings of those symbols.

8) Debate: In many ways the issue of prohibition can be reduced to a divide over the rights of the individual versus the responsibility of a nation. Debate the following two statements:

  • A) “In a democracy, people should have the freedom to make their own choices and be responsible for their actions. If they want to indulge in destructive personal behavior, that’s their business, not the governments.”
  • B) “A democratic government is made up of its citizens and a major responsibility of government is to guarantee equal opportunity for all. The government has a duty to alleviate social ills and guarantee that no one is in need.”

Which statement do you support and why? What are the factors that shape the statement with which you most align?

A photo of Carry Nation being escorted to jail from the Kansas Historical Society.

Other Relevant Sources:

Wiki overview:

Book: Fran Grace’s Carry A. Nation:

Article: Rebecca Onion, “A New History of Prohibition,” Slate (Dec 11, 2015): (The quick version of Lisa McGirr’s The War on Alcohol: )

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