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Women's Activities During the Prohibition Era Along the U.S.-Mexico Border

Kendel Croston


Popular images of prohibition include rum-runners trying to elude revenuers, all of whom tend to be male. When women are thought of, it is often as Carry Nation-type fanatics, wielding hatchets in saloons, smashing liquor bottles and furniture. There were women fanatic about enforcing prohibition, but there were also women who circumvented the Eighteenth Amendment. Along the U.S.-Mexico border women fit into both of these categories. The border area was especially fertile for pro- and anti-prohibition activities because Mexico had no limitations on alcohol consumption or production.

Prohibition supporters saw the lack of restrictions in Mexico as a threat to U.S. enforcement, while others saw opportunities to avoid prohibition, or to illegally profit from it. Women were involved in these activities as members of organizations, and as individuals, on both sides of the border. Some of these women acted with a specific socially approved goal in mind, such as morality, while others pursued individual gain, and some were simply struggling to survive. This diversity of women's responses to prohibition along the U.S.-Mexico border is discussed here.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229