November 4, 2015         



Kate Moore, Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations

(616) 929-1713;



“Spirited Women: Grand Rapids and the Push for Temperance”

Coming to the Grand Rapids Public Museum


Grand Rapids, MI – The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) and the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council (GGRWHC) are teaming up to bring a special presentation, Spirited Women: Grand Rapids and the Push for Temperance, to the GRPM on Tuesday, November 17. The program is being offered in conjunction with the Museum’s newest exhibit, American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.


In Spirited Women: Grand Rapids and the Push for Temperance, GGRWHC board members Ruth Van Stee and Julie Tabberer will illustrate how the histories of both the “True Woman” of the nineteenth century and the “New Woman” of the Jazz Age contribute to the long foreground of Grand Rapids as “Beer City, USA.”


Visitors will learn little known facts about the temperance movement in Grand Rapids, such as: the first alcohol purchase in Kent County following the repeal of Prohibition was made by a feminist activist involved in Prohibition reform and Michigan temperance education. On December 30, 1933, Dorothy Smith McAllister bought the first bottle of champagne to celebrate a new year and new life after a failed social experiment. Michigan was the first state to vote for the repeal of the 18th Amendment.


Spirited Women: Grand Rapids and the Push for Temperance will take place at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 17 in the Museum’s Meijer Theater. Tickets are free with general admission and free to Museum members. For tickets or more information visit


Topics of the presentation will include why women had invested so heavily in Prohibition in the first place and how expanding radio and advertising media popularized the notion of the “flapper.”


Grand Rapids was seriously involved in century-long efforts by both men and women pushing temperance as a solution to the social ills that misuse of alcohol had exacerbated. When women often could not control their own wages or inheritances, when they were largely dependent for their well-being upon men who had a legal right to drink away family resources, there are direct links between the nineteenth-century women’s rights and temperance movements. Learn more during this special presentation.

American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

The world of flappers, bootleggers, temperance lobbyists, and organized crime legends comes to life in the American Spirits exhibition, gracing the Museum’s gallery through January 17. This extensive collection showcases over 100 rare artifacts, including: temperance propaganda, flapper dresses from the Roaring ’20s, Carry Nation’s hatchet used during her barroom-smashing raids, and authentic items used for making moonshine and other illegal potent liquors. Interactive elements and immersive environments will bring to life the sights, sounds and experiences of the time period. Visitors have the chance to take a quiz to find out if they are a “wet” or a “dry,” learn the Charleston in a re-created speakeasy and play the role of a federal Prohibition agent chasing rumrunners in a custom-built video game.


At the end of the exhibition visitors will explore the legacy of Prohibition in today’s regulatory landscape. Displays will show why and how laws differ from state to state and how the idea of drinking responsibly evolved.


American Spirits is a national touring exhibition created by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and curated by Daniel Okrent, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. The exhibition includes 17 artifacts on loan from the Collection of the Grand Rapids Public Museum.


Support for American Spirits is provided by Amway, Anheuser Busch, West Side Beer Distributing, Experience Grand Rapids, Long Road Distillers, New Holland Brewing, Alliance Beverage Distributing Company, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Brewery Vivant, WoodTV 8, 101.3 The Brew and Mlive Media Group. 


American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.