July 12, 1897: Duluth bans women from saloons

On this day in Duluth in 1897, the Duluth Common Council unanimously passed an ordinance banning women from saloons. The ordinance, introduced by alderman Charles E. Shannon, prohibited women from entering saloons. Those violating the ordinance faced a fine of up to $100—worth nearly $3,000 today—or 90 days in jail. The ordinance was installed just two weeks after Mayor Henry “Typhoid” Truelsen declared, “There are no more women singing in saloons in Duluth and there will be no more in [the] future. Last week I gave orders that it be stopped, but those that had singers complained that they had hired them to continue until Saturday night, with the understanding that no more should be engaged. This week there are none, and I do not propose to have the custom revived.” The consumption of alcohol and the social ills that accompanied it were much in the news in Duluth and throughout the country during the decades that led up to national Prohibition beginning in 1920. From the 1890s to 1920 anti-saloon sentiment grew and spread across the country. Laws concerning the consumption of liquor—where it could be sold, who could sell it, and who could patronize establishments dispensing it—were adopted and augmented almost constantly. Duluth actually went dry two years before Prohibition was national law, and Superior had gone dry, returned to wet, and back to dry itself before manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages was banned completely. Read more about Duluth’s early liquor laws here, a history of Prohibition in Duluth here, and how liquor laws shaped Duluth after Prohibition ended here.