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Watch “A Century of American Drug Use” Virtual AHA Panel

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from contributing editor Bob Beach. Beach is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Albany, SUNY. 

The annual gathering of historians for the American Historical Association’s yearly meeting is set to resume in January 2022 in New Orleans, barring a major resurgence of Covid due to the delta variant. The pandemic caused the cancellation of the 2021 meeting slated for Seattle, Washington, but the AHA selected several panels to present at its virtual AHA colloquium, which started early this year and will wrap up this month. Panels not selected for the main colloquium were still encouraged to hold sessions, and the AHA generously offered space on its YouTube channel for recordings of Zoom meetings to be uploaded.

I was part of such a virtual AHA panel entitled “A Century of Drug Use: Psychoactive Drugs Among Native Americans, Hippies, and the Working Poor” that met on the most appropriate day possible for such a thing—April 20, 2021. We gathered together on Zoom with a group of 50 friends for a very productive 90-minute panel.

Virtual AHA Panel

The newly-minted, Dr. Lila Teeters—following up an April dissertation defense at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, a week earlier—started the panel with a wonderful talk based on her dissertation research. She spoke about Native American citizenship debates during the 1920s, and how Native Americans’ use of Peyote complicated these discussions. I spoke next with a discussion about the cannabis economy that developed among poor workers in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. This research will be part of my in-progress dissertation.

Dr. John Moretta from Houston Community College then presented about the ways in which psychedelic drug use shaped the worldview of the “hippie” counterculture movement in the 1960s United States. Timothy Hale from Georgia State University rounded out the panel with a talk that examined how European and American drug users confronted the inspirational potential of psychoactive drugs in the Atlantic World from the 1800s through the twentieth century.

On this nice summer day, grab a cold beverage and enjoy the panel presentations:


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