render them intellectual bootleggers of a sort. (I confess to constantly
adapting themes and approaches from European intellectual and cultural
history in order to explore southwestern Minnesota.) They forever must
ask how capricious and arbitrary is their making of a place.
Writing itself also causes discomfort. As much as the practice of local
history might gain the local historian recognition, the work is lonely work.
Companionship at times amounts to no more than a handful of colleagues
and friends. Yet, the practice of writing local history fails to provide
unsavory cast of gun-toting, free-living, fun-loving
bootleggers against whom a few righteously labored and many con-
spired. But dissenters abounded. In one town, the pharmacist filled il-
licit prescriptions; in the Belgian-settled village of Ghent, which eventu-
ally voted sixty-six to none to repeal Prohibition, the milkman delivered
The depression forced a national redefinition of clandestine society.
Bank robbers abounded, and with popular support in the countryside,
militant farmers took the law into their own hands. The depression also
unleashed legions of