One thing that often jumps out of the documents at the archives is the climate of the time. Even if the dates were removed, you’d be able to place them in their time period. We’ve been sharing some of our finds from the Salt Lake County Attorney’s Correspondence, most of which comes from the 1930s and 1940s. Sometimes the contents could belong in other times and places, like letters warning neglectful parents that they need to provide for their children, which unfortunately could be from just about any time in the 20th and 21st centuries. Other times they are clearly of the moment, like when they discuss WPA projects placing them within the New Deal era. The contents of the letter we are sharing today place it squarely in the era of prohibition. It is dated 1935, which is the tail end of prohibition in Utah. By the end of that year it would be possible to purchase alcohol legally in this state.
In the letter, the Superintendent of the Salt Lake County Hospital asks the Board of County Commissioners (who forwarded the question to the County Attorney) for help with the annual expense for alcohol. It was an interesting plan. The hospital spent nearly a thousand dollars a year on alcohol, which they would presumably use for medicinal purposes. The Superintendent suggested that the alcohol the County Sheriff seized, which was then marked for destruction, should instead be given to the Hospital.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the request was denied.
Entry contributed by Dr. Michaele Smith, Archivist, Salt Lake County Archives.