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Prohibition Memorabilia

Any social change as deep and sweeping as Prohibition is bound to have a lot of memorabilia associated with it. Here are some items from the era of Prohibition in Oregon.

The Oregon Boot

A boot with a metal brace fitting around the ankle and hooked under the heal.

The infamous shackle called the Oregon Boot was still in limited use at the Oregon State Penitentiary during Prohibition. Attached to one ankle, the device was designed to keep the prisoner off balance so he could not move quickly. Prisoners called it a "man-killer" because it caused extreme physical pain. (Oregon State Archives photo - Oregon Boot courtesy Oregon Historical Society) Enlarge image

Advertisement for the Oregon boot with the headline: No One Has Ever Escaped From an Oregon Boot.

This advertisement extolls the Oregon Boot as a great tool to prevent escapes from jails and penitentiaries. It was widely used at the Oregon State Penitentiary for a period in the late 1800s before prison officials acknowledged that it prevented inmates from doing manual labor and caused injuries. (Oregon State Archives image) Enlarge image 
Transcript of Oregon Boot Advertisement​

Read a description of the Oregon Boot by a longtime Oregon State Penitentiary official.

Repeal 18th Amendment License Plate Attachment


License plate reads "Repeal 18th amendment"

This original license plate attachment helped advertise the movement to repeal national Prohibition. (License plate attachment courtesy Craig Kuhns) Enlarge image

Stylish woman in white gloves and a cloche hat holds "Repeal 18th Amendment" license plate over a real license plate of a car.

A woman smiles as she poses in front of a car in the early 1930s with a Repeal 18th Amendment license plate attachment. (Image courtesy Oregon Historical Society) Enlarge image

Prohibition Matchbooks


3 matchbook examples read: Vote for Repeal, Bring Back Bombay Gin, Julius Marcus non-alcoholic cordials hit the spot.
Many of the Prohibition Era matchbooks advocated for the repeal of national Prohibition. Some advertised non-alcoholic alternatives to liquor-based drinks. (Matchbooks courtesy Craig Kuhns)

Liquor Bottles


Clear glass bottles with labels reading: Pure Rum, for medicinal use. Pebble-Ford, Kentucky Bourbon, Clear Spring Distilling Co.
Left: A considerable amount of liquor was produced during Prohibition for "medicinal use." This rum bottle was filled in Portland by a drug company. Right: The reverse label on this Kentucky Bourbon bottle notes that the contents are "For Medical Purposes Only." (Oregon State Archives photos - Bottles courtesy Oregon Historical Society)