The Social History of Alcohol

 Researching the Final Paper


Go Directly to Web Resources


 I. Basic Research Strategy.

 Start with a narrowly focused question or set of questions you wish to answer. Build a small bibliography of recent secondary sources (books and articles) that address your topic by searching Duke's Online Catalog and Databases. For articles, search the following databases, available in the library:

Available online: Academic Index; Arts & Humanities Search; Book Review Digest; WorldCat; RLIN (Research Libraries Information Network)

CD-ROM Network: America: History & Life; Historical Abstracts.

See the Perkins Library History Resources page at: for more Duke resources.


Helpful search terms:

Abstinence; Alcohol; Alcohol Drinking; Alcohol Industry; Alcoholic Beverages; Alcoholism; Bars; Anti-alcohol (also Anti-Saloon; Anti-Liquor); Beer; Bootleggers; Dramshop; Drink Reform; Drink Trade; Drinking; Drinking of Alcoholic Beverages; Drinkers; Drug; Drunkenness; Eighteenth Amendment; Liquor; Liquor Problem; Liquor Traffic; Prohibition; Rum; Saloon; Social Reform; Spirits (Ardent Spirits); Temperance (and Intemperance); Teetotalism; Whiskey.

It's good to search using a variety of terms. Indices are often somewhat arbitrary in their categorization of topics, so search as many related terms as you can think of.

Organizations and Institutions (Historical and Contemporary -- U.S. only):

Alcoholics Anonymous; American Liberty League; American Temperance Society; American Temperance Union; American Wine Growers Association; Anti-Saloon League; Association Against the Prohibition Amendment; Bureau of Prohibition; Catholic Total Abstinence Union; Committee of Fifty for the Investigation of Alcohol; Daughters of Temperance; Distilled Spirits Council of the United States [DISCUS]; Federal Council of Churches; Independent Order of Good Templars; Knights of Labor; Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance; Methodist Board of Temperance; Mothers Against Drunk Driving; National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [NIAAA]; National Municipal League; National Prohibition Party; National Temperance Society; Personal Liberty League; Scientific Temperance Association; Sons of Temperance; Washingtonians; Women's Christian Temperance Union (and World's WCTU); United States Brewers' Association; Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform; World League Against Alcoholism;

This is just a sampling.

Once you have four or five secondary resources on your topic, peruse their introductions and conclusions, and look at the bibliographies and indexes. What are the current scholarly debates surrounding the question you have chosen? Does this help you narrow the focus of your topic? What primary resources do these scholars draw upon? Do they lead you to any bibliographies on the topic? What key search terms can you come up with? Any important names, organizations, discrete time periods, geographical regions that you can use to narrow further searching?

When you feel you have a good general feeling about what types of sources might help you answer your questions, start the search for primary sources. In both searching for and researching primary sources, you need to follow leads. One resource often leads to another, and another, and another, and only after following all of these do you find what you wanted in the first place.

Types of Primary Sources:

A primary source is a source of information contemporary to the period you are studying. There are wide ranges of materials you can draw upon in your research:


-Diaries, Memoirs, Autobiographies, Photographs, Material Culture (architecture, artifacts, furniture, food, clothing, etc.), Newspapers, Magazines, Letters, Speeches, Maps, Songs and Music, Published Contemporary Books (fiction and non-fiction; dictionaries; encyclopedias), Journals, Genealogies, Contemporary biographies and obituaries, Sermons, Oral interviews, City Directories.

 Where to find these: Special Collections, Manuscript Divisions, and Microfilm Collections of Duke, UNC, and NCSU libraries; the Southern Historical Collection at UNC; the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh; Historical Societies; Churches; Businesses; personal collections; Durham Public Library North Carolina Room; Orange County Public Library North Carolina Room; the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution and National Archives in Washington, D.C.



Committee Hearings, Reports, Legislation, Minutes, Debates, Proceedings, and Roll Calls, Census and Statistical Information, Budgets, Supreme Court Decisions

 Where to find these: Start with the web site of Duke's Public Documents Department in Perkins Library:


-Churches: sermons; minutebooks; bulletins; hymnbooks; committee records; membership lists; centennial histories; letters; budgets; scrapbooks; district, regional, and national church organizations; interdenominational organizations; church newsletters and journals; yearly convention reports; camp meeting or revival reports;

-Businesses: correspondence; advertisements; histories; reports; budgets; publications;

-Reform Organizations: published pamphlets; histories; conferences; meeting minutes;


-Universities: journals; conferences; courses; policy debates; administration records;

These are often located in university libraries or the other archival depositories listed above. But you may need to call individual churches, businesses, unions, or organizations for their records.

Draw on the expert knowledge of the Library Resource Specialists at Duke. They can point you to more specific finding aids, help you explore and refine the various dimensions of your topic, and provide you with much greater depth on the resources available to you. A complete list of these specialists, their topics, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses may be found at

General manuscript catalogs exist to help you track down specific collections, often indexed by name, subject, and geographical location.

National union catalog of manuscript collections [serial].

Perkins Reference q -- CALL NUMBER: z091 N277


Directory of archives and manuscript repositories in the United States.

1988 Special Collections Libr Ref Quarto -- CALL NUMBER: 016.091025 D598,


II. Web Resources:

The Web is useful both to locate general finding aids and bibliographies specific to your topic and, increasingly, as a source for digitized primary documents.

General Reference Webliography: The Colonial South Bibliographic Guide. United States History Index with many links to other websites. Organized by period. General history index, arranged by country. UNC's Virtual Reference Desk. UNC's History reference page. Manuscripts Department at UNC libraries. North Carolina Division of Archives and History. North Carolina State University Special Collections.


Sites Containing Primary Documents: UNC's "Documenting the American South" homepage. Diaries, memoirs, autobiographies, slave narratives, southern Americana. Indexed but not searchable. Library of Congress American Memory Page. Many scanned documents available, along with photos, songs, and maps. Temperance and Prohibition links, with some original documents.


Duke's special collections department is working to make more and more primary documents available on the web. Visit them at

Browse the "Alcohol Links" listed on the course web site as well. Many contain links to further web sites, databases, bibliographies, journals, and other resources on the subject of alcohol.