The Resource Records of the Virginia Prohibition Commission

Records of the Virginia Prohibition Commission

Records of the Virginia Prohibition Commission, 1916-1934
Records of the Virginia Prohibition Commission
Inclusive dates
  • This collection documents the activities of the Virginia Prohibition Commission including annual reports, bonds, checkbooks, correspondence, insurance policies, inventories, invoices, journals, ledgers, memos, payroll records, permits, receipts, reports, and vouchers
  • Series I: Applications and Personnel Files, 1916-1934. Arranged into two (2) subseries: Applications; and Personnel Files. Arranged alphabetically by last name of individual within the series. Contains correspondence, letters of applications, references. This series is not complete. Please note: the content of the two (2) subseries overlap. Distinction between Applications series and the Personnel Files series is the presence or mention of then-current employment with the Prohibition Commission, a commission stating an individual is an inspector acting on behalf of the Prohibition Commission or other indication of then-current employment. There are files of previous and future employees/volunteers with the Commission who are represented in the Applications series. Series I.A: Application Files, 1916-1934 Arranged alphabetically by last name of individual. Contains letters of application, references, and correspondence with applicants for positions within the Prohibition Commission. Positions applied for include Prohibition Inspector, Attorney, and clerical staff. Please note: this series contains application files for individuals who may have been in the service of the department either before or following the dates covered by these folders. Inclusion in this series does not imply that the individual was never in the employ or service of the Prohibition Commission. Series I.B: Personnel Files, 1916-1934 Arranged alphabetically by last name of individual. Contains personnel files and related information such as letter of commission to office, and correspondence with the Attorney General, in addition to applications, and references for positions within the Prohibition Commission
  • Series II: Correspondence, 1916-1934. Arranged into two subseries: General Correspondence and Subject Files, 1916-1934; and Beer Correspondence, 1932-1934. Arranged alphabetically by topic or last name of correspondent. Contains correspondence, memoranda, and other materials related to the daily operations of the Prohibition Commission. Series II.A: General Correspondence and Subject files, 1916-1934 Arranged alphabetically by last name of correspondent or topic. Contains general correspondence and subject files related to the operations of the department including reports from court clerks and local sheriffs, correspondence and opinions from the Attorney General's office, correspondence from the Governor's office regarding pardons and other matters, as well as correspondence with federal authorities, local commonwealth's attorneys. Topics addressed include the handling of ardent spirits, automobiles, permits and complaints received by the department. Includes correspondence, reports, invoices, form letters, and inventories. Series II.B: Beer Correspondence, 1932-1934 Arranged alphabetically by topic. Contains correspondence and opinions regarding the possession, transport, and consumption of beer
  • Series III: Financial and Administrative Records. Arranged into two subseries: Financial Records, 1919-1934 [bulk 1927-1934]; and Administrative Records, 1923-1934 [bulk 1926-1934]. Series III.A: Financial Records, 1919-1934 [bulk 1927-1934] Arranged alphabetically by material type, and chronologically thereunder. This sub-series contains vouchers, receipts, expense reports, and ledgers documenting the financial affairs of the Prohibition Commission. Of particular interest are the travel expense reports of the Prohibition Inspectors, containing an overview of the inspector's travels and activities. The reports vary in detail from only naming the locale they were in on a particular day, to a one or two sentence description of activities during that day. Also of interest are receipts for the purchase of the automobiles used by the inspectors, and documentation concerning the wages of each employee of the Prohibition Commission. The receipts from July 1927 to September 1929 (Boxes 5 and 6), as received, were arranged differently from the other receipts in the series. As there was no apparent organization in this set of records, an alphabetical arrangement by vendor name was constructed, as no voucher numbers were present. Please note that this series is incomplete and that there are several gaps in coverage of material in this series. Series III.B: Administrative Records, 1923-1934 [bulk 1926-1934] Arranged alphabetically by folder title. Contains personnel, budget, insurance and equipment information of the Prohibition Commission. Includes annual reports, correspondence, reports, insurance documents, and forms
  • Series IV: Inspectors' Reports, 1918-1934. Arranged by date and then alphabetically by last name of inspector. Contains daily reports of inspectors documenting persons arrested, items seized, and expense information. On many of the reports, the Commission secretary made notes on the reports, especially concerning the date. It appears that the "correction" of date information was made for statistical purposes, as some inspectors would send a group of reports spanning several months at one time. Early reports were written accounts in narrative form while later accounts were on a standardized form supplied by the Commission. The original order of the collection was maintained, with the reports being kept by time period (usually six months, sometimes longer) with an alphabetical organization within the dates specified. Please note that the following reports are missing: all reports from October 1929 (with the exception of one report) to March 1930, and all reports from inspectors with last names from A to P during the period from April to October 1931
  • Series V: Permits, 1918-1934. Arranged by date and then alphabetically by company name or last name of requestor. Contains correspondence and requests for transportation permits for "ardent spirits" and other types of alcohol, which were dispensed for medicinal, mechanical, sacramental or scientific purposes. Of particular interest are references to the 1918 influenza epidemic, the entrance of corporate chain stores, and women physicians and entrepreneurs. Transportation permits were issued following the passage of the 1918 Prohibition Act, which regulated the transport of alcohol within the boundaries of the Commonwealth. Following the repeal of the 18th Amendment of the United States Constitution ending the national prohibition on alocohol, the Prohibition Commission continued to issue transportation permits (citing "medicinal" as the purpose of use in the majority of cases) until the establishment of the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Board in 1934
  • Series VI: Licenses and Bonds, 1918-1934 [bulk 1926-1934] Arranged by type of applicant, and alphabetically by locality therein. Contains application materials for licenses and bonds for the manufacture, use, and sale of alcohol. Later correspondence includes the return of bonds to the applicants following the repeal of the 18th amendment
  • Series VII: Index Card Files. Arranged by type of index and alphabetically by last name therein. Contains reference card files on the topics of qualified medical and dental personnel, the status of requests for pardons, and a general correspondence index. Note that some materials may overlap with those found in the Series III.B: Administrative Records
Agency history record describes the history and functions of the Virginia Prohibition Commission. (Search Virginia Prohibition Commission as author).
Member of
  • Accessioned
  • Described
Biographical or historical data
  • The Virginia Prohibition Commission was established by Act of Assembly on 10 March 1916 as "an exercise of the police power of the State for the protection of the State, for the protection of the public health, peace and morals, and the prevention of the sale and use of ardent spirits." The Prohibition Commission was charged with enforcing this law, with the Commissioner, deputies and inspectors having powers of sheriffs of the Commonwealth. These same personnel were also authorized to administer oaths, take affidavits, examine records and enter buildings with a warrant. The Commission was to make reports to the judges of the circuit, corporate and hustings courts where such violations occurred.
  • In 1918, the revised Prohibition law was passed on 19 March. The revision expanded the definition of ardent spirits to include absinth, all malt beverages, alcoholic bitters, and all compounds and mixtures containing any of the ardent spirits listed in the act. Also, the new act required the issuance of transportation permits for ardent spirits. Permits were issued to qualified applicants for one of four purposes: mechanical, medicinal, sacramental and scientific. The 1918 act also specifically mentions stills and that it was "unlawful for any person except duly licensed druggists, hospitals and laboratories, in this State to own or have in his possession any still, still cap, worm, tub, fermenter or any of them or any other appliances connected with a still and used, or mash or other substances, capable of being used in the manufacture of ardent spirits."
  • On 16 January 1920, the 18th amendment of the United States Constitution became effective, and the focus of the efforts of the Virginia Prohibition Commission shifted from the importation of ardent spirits from nearby localities to the illegal production of ardent spirits, specifically corn whiskey, commonly known as moonshine. In 1920, the Virginia General Assembly further revised the Virginia Prohibition law with the most sweeping changes being to the office of the Prohibition Commissioner. The General Assembly was given power to elect a Commissioner of Prohibition, who was given a two-year term. Harry B. Smith was named the second Commissioner of Prohibition. The office of the Commissioner of Prohibition was abolished on 30 August 1922, and responsibilities for the Commission fell to the Office of the Attorney General. On 5 December 1933, the repeal of the 18th amendment was completed with the ratification of the 21st amendment to the United States Constitution. This presented a number of challenges for the Prohibition Commission, as there was no other organization within state government to regulate the transportation, production and sale of alcohol. The Commission continued to issue transportation permits and seek out illegal stills until the establishment of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The Office of the Dept. of Prohibition was abolished on 22 March 1934.
Cataloging source
Citation source
Records of the Virginia Prohibition Commission
Arranged alphabetically and chronologically.
  • The Library of Virginia
Cumulative index finding aids
  • Finding aid
  • Finding aid
  • 179.93 (203 boxes)
  • 2
Governing access note
There are no access restrictions
Organization method
Organized into the following series: I. Applications and Personnel Files, 1916-1934; II. Correspondence, 1916-1934; III. Financial and Administrative Records, 1916-1934 [bulk 1926-1934]; IV. Inspectors' Reports, 1918-1934; V. Permits, 1918-1934; VI. Licenses and Bonds, 1918-1934 [bulk 1926-1934]; VII. Index Card Files, undated.
Terms governing use
There are no use restrictions.
Type of unit
  • cu. ft.
  • volumes.

Library Locations

    • Library of VirginiaBorrow it
      800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, US
      37.5415632 -77.4360805
Processing Feedback ...