Rorabaugh, W.J. 1945–

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Rorabaugh, W.J. 1945–

(William J. Rorabaugh, William Joseph Rorabaugh)


Born December 11, 1945, in Louisville, KY; son of Matthew Irvin (an engineer) and Agnes Rorabaugh. Ethnicity: "White." Education: Stanford University, A.B., 1968; University of California, Berkeley, M.A., 1970, Ph.D., 1976.


Office—Department of History, Box 353560, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-3560; fax: 206-543-9451. E-mail—[email protected]


San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, lecturer in history, 1976; University of Washington, Seattle, assistant professor, beginning 1976, professor of history, 1987—. University of Richmond, distinguished visiting National Endowment for the Humanities Professor, 2004.


American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Society of Historians of the Early American Republic, Alcohol and Drug History Society.


Fellow of Newberry Library, 1979, Huntington Library, 1980, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1981, National Humanities Center, 1983, and Kennedy Library, 1992.


The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1979.

The Craft Apprentice: From Franklin to the Machine Age in America, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1986.

Berkeley at War: The 1960s, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1989.

(With Donald T. Critchlow) America! A Concise History, Wadsworth (Belmont, CA), 1994.

Kennedy and the Promise of the Sixties, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

(Under name William J. Rorabaugh; with Donald T. Critchlow and Paula Baker) America's Promise: A Concise History of the United States, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2003.


W.J. Rorabaugh once told CA: "I became interested in the history of drinking when I stumbled across a batch of old temperance pamphlets. What I found was that America's drinking habits before 1830 were highly intoxicating and that all that alcohol was covering up a lot of social problems. And no, I am not a teetotaler.

"While researching for my book, The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition, I found that the typical adult male in the United States in the 1820s was drinking nearly one-half pint of whiskey a day—more than three times the present rate. Such a high flow of spirits was made possible by a hearty tradition stressing the value of liquor for health combined with plentiful cheap whiskey (twenty-five cents per gallon) produced in a glut in the Midwestern corn belt. What made so many Americans imbibe so much, however, was the trauma of a society being transformed by steamboats, new factories, mushrooming cities, unprecedented western settlement, and the breakdown of social class lines. Many Americans tried to cope with the change by drinking. The great binge came to an end when the leaders of the temperance movement persuaded a majority to give up the bottle for the Bible."

Rorabaugh later told CA: "My most recent work has focused on the 1960s because that, too, was a decade of rapid change and upheaval. Berkeley proved to make an interesting case study where issues of race, war, student unrest, and the counterculture intersected. To understand the sixties better, I have been concentrating recently on that decade's earliest years, when clear hints of great change could already be seen by the discerning eye."



Times Literary Supplement, May 30, 1980, Andrew Sinclair, review of The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition, p. 602.