Skip to main content

Prohibition Era, 1920-1933: Primary Sources in Special Collections: Primary Sources in Special Collections

This guide will help you find primary source material pertaining to Prohibition.

Primary Manuscript Sources Without Online Finding Aids


Wade Hall Collection of American Letters - Marguerite (Habermacher) Henderson Papers Series, 1917 – 1950, 1917 – 1923 (bulk dates). Marguerite (Habermacher) Henderson was the wife of Linn Henderson, a cattle farmer in Shelby Co., Kentucky. She was the daughter of Anton (1857-?) and Mary Habermacher, who emigrated from Switzerland in 1893, the year they were married. Marguerite’s parents moved to Plant City, Florida in 1917 to begin a fruit, vegetable and chicken farm. Mary Habermacher died in Plant City in 1919. Marguerite’s younger sister, Helene, lived in Shelbyville until 1919 before moving to Tampa, Florida. She worked for the Singer Sewing Company as a bookkeeper. This collection consists of family letters, mainly from Marguerite’s parents and sister Helene, but also a few from relatives living in Brussels, Belgium, and her husband, Linn. Topics mentioned or discussed at some length in these letters include Prohibition and stills in the Tampa area, alcohol smuggling from Cuba, the 1920 Presidential election, the price of fruit, produce, dairy products, sugar, cigars etc., the building of the original Gandy Bridge between Tampa and St. Petersburg, construction boom in and around Tampa, northern tourists, crime in Tampa, a dengue fever outbreak in Tampa, and how her sister Helene got in trouble with her boss for dating a Mr. Cooke who also worked at the Singer Sewing Company in Tampa. Included in the collection are several postcards of Tampa ca. 1920, photos of Marguerite’s father, Anton, and sister, Helene, at Mary’s gravesite. (Accession #2009MS132)


Wade Hall Collection of American Letters - Lila H. Robinson Papers Series, 1893-1931 (Bulk 1917-1918).  This collection of letters consists of correspondence to Lila H. Robinson (December 1896 – May 11, 1928), of Louisville, Kentucky.  Robinson, the only daughter of wholesale druggist A. Lee Robinson (b. 1867) and his wife Helen Robinson (b. 1875), corresponded with cousins, school friends, and a few male suitors. The collection contains a few greeting cards and thank-you notes as well as an 1893 letter from A. Lee to Helen. Robinson was from a well-to-do family, and traveled extensively:  many of the letters are addressed to her in Andover, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California; and Lake Placid, New York. Robinson also volunteered for the Red Cross at some point in the late 1910s, and two of her suitors, Oscar R. Rand and “Gene,” served with the U.S. Army in World War I, and their letters contain some details about military life and commentary on the hardships caused by the war.  Robinson also suffered from a mystery ailment which saw her travel to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in 1918.  Lila Robinson, who never married, died of unknown causes in 1928 at about age 32. Robinson’s correspondence contains references to fashions, an upcoming family wedding, news and trip details from friends and family, courtship, Prohibition, “moving pictures,” oblique references to Lila’s poor health, and World War I.  Researchers may be particularly interested in correspondence from Robinson’s two male suitors and cousins Edith and Gladys Wood for their commentary on courtship and married life in turn-of-the-century America.  (Accession #2009MS132)

How to Use Primary Sources

For tips on how to conduct research using primary sources, click here.

Prohibition Era Primary Sources Research Guide Table of Contents.

Primary Manuscript Sources With Online Finding Aids. Click On Links To Access Full Collection Descriptions.