Madelon Powers May 17, 1947 – April 18, 2015

Madelon Powers
May 17, 1947 – April 18, 2015

What everyone seems to remember most is how fun and lively she was, the “saloon historian” who made a career out of elevating the importance of the lowly and mundane. Madelon Powers, the vivacious professor and former chair of the history department of the University of New Orleans, passed away in mid-April after a struggle with cancer, but her contributions to both the field of alcohol and drug history, as well as in the lives of her many students, will live on through her writing and a new UNO scholarship founded in her name.

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Editor’s Note: Readers of Social History of Alcohol and Drugs, the Alcohol and Drugs History Society’s journal, are aware of Jonathon Erlen’s ongoing bibliography of recent dissertations related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Until recently, Dr. Erlen, the History of Medicine Librarian at the University of Pittsburgh, curated and published his dissertation lists in the print edition of the journal. Last August, the Alcohol and Drugs History Society moved the publication of Erlen’s bibliography to the blog. Below, we highlight a few entries that may be of interest to alcohol and drugs historians and provide a link to the complete listing of Erlen’s selections from the ProQuest index. The highlighted entries were harvested from ProQuest’s database in the spring of 2015.

Link to complete bibliographies:

Substance Abuse Dissertation Abstracts

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Finding “The Real Thing”: Mad Men Roundtable, Part II

Editor’s Note: Points is thrilled to present our final roundtable on the television series that has given drug and alcohol historians the most to discuss over the past seven years: Mad Men. Claire Clark, Amy Long and I present our thoughts on the series finale, which aired on Sunday, May 17, and its meaning and repercussions for ADHS scholars. 

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Finding the Tea Pad: The Social Spaces of Casual Marijuana Use

In my previous posts, I began to ask questions about how to find user voices in the archives. In my last post, I moved to a more direct discussion of sources from actual users — jazz musicians– and their relevance to social history methods. But I haven’t yet raised the bigger question: how did everyday users contribute to the historical record on cannabis use during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century? In another speculative exercise, using a combination of disparate source material, I will begin to lay out the foundation of an answer to this question. Further research in this area, connected to my dissertation project, will hopefully crystallize into a more workable hypothesis about casual marijuana use during this period.

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The Films of Adrian Cowell: Opium stories from the Shan State to Hong Kong to Washington, DC (Guest Post)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Points is thrilled to welcome Hannah Palin (Film Archives Specialist) and Nicolette Bromberg (Visual Materials Curator) from the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections. The University of Washington has a wonderful collection of materials by the British filmmaker and journalist Adrian Cowell. Beware, alcohol and drugs historians– once you read their descriptions of the Cowell collection, you might be tempted to book your tickets to Seattle!

In January 2015, the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, received  6 pallets of materials shipped from London. They were stacked high with boxes of 16mm film, audio and videotape, photographs, newspaper clippings, transcripts and log books—covering three decades of work by British filmmaker and journalist, Adrian Cowell. From the 1960s to the 1990s, Adrian Cowell created television documentaries detailing the complex relationships between minority insurgents in a remote region of Burma and the international opium trade originating in Southeast Asia. The Adrian Cowell Film and Research Collection contains Cowell’s work tracking the opium trade from its production in Burma to the addicts and dealers in Hong Kong to the drug policy makers in Washington, D.C. It includes the most extensive collection of images of the remote Burmese Shan State in the world, gathered during Cowell’s trips documenting opium merchants, opium caravans, militias, insurgents and other activities related to the opium trade. A year and half after its arrival, Special Collections’ staff, students, and volunteers are still slowly working their way through the collection of over 2000 items, most of which have never before been made public.

Adrian Cowell introducing The Warlords, Part Two of The Opium Series

Adrian Cowell introducing The Warlords,
Part Two of The Opium Series

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The Past as Pregaming: A Review of the National Archives Museum’s “Spirited Republic”

A pensive stone figure sits outside the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C., atop a platform reading, “what is past is prologue.” But if a new exhibit, “Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History,” is any indication, perhaps it should more appropriately read, “what is past is pregame.”

Past is prologue

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Celebrating a year of new Points

It’s hard to believe, but an entire year has passed since we relaunched Points.

In that time, we’ve covered a lot of ground. We’ve welcomed wonderful new writers to our staff of contributing editors (including Bob Beach, Nick Johnson, Matt June, Gabriel Roberts, and Sarah Brady Siff). We’ve featured twenty interviews with authors of exciting new books. We’ve had guest posts from Kim Sue, Heather Sophia Lee, Lucas Richert and Erica Dyck, Camille Higham, Suzanna Reiss, Jessica Diller Kovler, Ingrid Walker, Justin Martin and Bradley J. Bourougerdi, among others. And we’ve featured tributes to some of those we’ve lost over the past twelve months, including Sasha Shulgin, Joseph R. Gusfield, and Ernie Kurtz.

We’ve also covered some amazing topics. Points is clearly guaranteed to never bore! We’ve dug into the archives (especially Harry Anslinger’s “gore file”); we’ve discussed silencing and substance abuse; we’ve hosted a roundtable on Mad Men (with another to come); we’ve featured reports from conferences and dissertation abstracts; we’ve discussed “Teaching Points,” a guide to bringing debates over drug and alcohol use into the classroom; we’ve examined the role alcohol plays in the lives of women and explored the term “damp feminism”; we’ve explored why marijuana is illegal; we’ve looked at the role drugs play on television and even offered our favorite media recommendations for the holiday season; we wrote 100 words to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Harrison Act; we featured a series on cannabis and heroin in modern Atlantic history, and the roles of drug use in Weimar Germany and in World War I; we explored the intricacies of the year 1976, hoarding, the events in Ferguson, Mo., substance abuse and movie ratings, and the La Leche League and Alcoholics Anonymous as lay health movements.

There’s probably not much that we didn’t cover.

But we couldn’t have done it without you. We’re so thankful that you’ve continued to support Points as we move into our second year of relaunched, re-inspired, re-purposed action. As always, let us know if there’s something you want to see but haven’t, if you have any questions, and if you want to suggest a topic or pitch an idea. We’d love to hear from you.

Happy Cinco de Mayo (a holiday that probably deserves its own post-length analysis here), and happy birthday to the relaunched Points!

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