Erin Gilliam of Kentucky State U. on African American Contributions to American Whiskey

Historians in the News
tags: African American history, distilling, whiskey, liquor


The contributions of African Americans in the distilling industry has largely gone unnoticed and unrecognized for a long period of time. The story of Uncle Nearest put mainstream media attention and a spotlight on the issue. But there is one person who spends her time on capturing stories and diving into distillery archives to discover more African American influence on whiskey. Erin Wiggins Gilliam is an Associate Professor Of History at Kentucky State University and she sits down with me to talk about some of her findings. She gives an amazing amount of insight into record keeping that documented how slaves that knew how to distill were quite valuable. Erin also spends her time interviewing older generations of people who worked at distilleries in Kentucky and nearby states to document the culture and the roles African Americans held at distilleries through recent periods of time. She is always on the hunt for the next great story so if you have a relative or a family connection, reach out to Erin so she can continue her quest.

Read entire article at Whiskey Wash

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