New annual book prize named for late UW historian William Rorabaugh

The national Alcohol and Drugs History Society has established an annual book prize in the name of longtime University of Washington history professor William Rorabaugh , who died this spring, calling him "a pioneer in the social history of alcohol.”

The society will give the William J. Rorabaugh Book Prize each year to the author of a first or second book in English in the history of alcohol and drug studies. The prize is open to "all scholars, independent and university-affiliated, without regard to academic rank.”

Rorabaugh researched and taught American history. He wrote about the rise of American alcohol consumption in the late 1700s and early 1800s in his 1979 book " The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition ” and returned to the topic in 2018 with " Prohibition: A Concise History.” He studied the 1960s and its counterculture movement in his 1990 book " Berkeley at War: The 1960s ” and " American Hippies ,” in 2015.

He was a supporter and past president of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, which was founded in 1979 as the Alcohol and Temperance History Group to "foster exchange among scholars interested in all aspect of past alcohol or drug use or control.”

Rorabaugh also wrote two books about the Kennedy presidency: " Kennedy and the Promise of the Sixties ” in 2002 and " The Real Making of the President: Kennedy, Nixon, and the 1960 Election ” in 2009, reassessing the narrative of Theodore White’s popular story of that campaign, "The Making of the President, 1960.”

The society is fundraising to build a $20,000 endowment for the new book prize. Prize-winning books, they said, "will exhibit the high standards of scholarship, superior quality and distinguished contribution to the field that exemplified the work of Bill Rorabaugh.”

  • Read the UW History Department’s memoriam page for Rorabaugh, and a page of memories shared by colleagues and students.

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