About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "The Cigarette: A Political History"

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
October 3, 2019

Good afternoon, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us for this afternoon’s program, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through Facebook or YouTube.

Before we hear from Sarah Milov about her new book, The Cigarette: A Political History, I’d like to tell you about two other programs coming up soon in the McGowan Theater.

On Tuesday, October 8, at noon, in a program connected to our current special exhibit Rightfully Hers, Anne Gardiner Perkins will be here to discuss her book Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant.

And on Thursday, October 10, at noon, author Nina Barrett will tell us about her research for her book The Leopold and Loeb Files: An Intimate Look at One of America’s Most Infamous Crimes.

To keep informed about events throughout the year, check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Check out their website—archivesfoundation.org—to learn more about them and join online.

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Tobacco has been tied to the history of the United States from its earliest days. The seeds planted in Jamestown grew into a cash crop that shaped the development of the American colonies and remained a major commodity through the 20th century.

A search for “tobacco” in the online Guide to the National Archives gives a quick impression of the product’s many connections with the Federal Government—seed development, assistance to farmers, regulations on its use, and taxation, to name a few. Cigarettes were even issued to American soldiers during World Wars I and II as part of their rations.

Today’s guest author, Sarah Milov, explores the connections between cigarettes and American political institutions throughout the 20th century and describes the shift in attitudes toward tobacco use.

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Sarah Milov is an assistant professor of history at the University of Virginia, specializing in the 20th-century United States. A former fellow of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, she has written on the tobacco industry, the rise of e-cigarettes, and the grassroots fight to battle climate change. Her research explores how organized interest groups and everyday Americans influence government policy.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Sarah Milov.