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Photo Credit
Photo Credit: Horse Drawn Garbage Wagon, 1915. Item 871, Engineering Department Photographic Negatives (Record Series 2613-07)

Find of the Month

January 2023 - The Stoned Age

The Stoned Age pamphlet

In response to a report on teenage drug use, the Seattle-King County Youth Commission embarked on a project to develop an educational pamphlet to be distributed in schools. Titled "The Stoned Age," it was meant to speak to youth on their own terms about drugs and their dangers. In September 1967, the commission reviewed an early draft of the pamphlet and found it "believable, non-moralistic, and hopefully convincing to the potential user."

Rev. Thomas Miller of the Calvary Bible Presbyterian Church also reviewed the draft and disagreed strenuously with its approach. He wrote to local elected officials to protest that the pamphlet "presents the use of drugs…in an attractive manner." Other citizens followed Miller's lead and wrote in to ask that the pamphlet be killed or significantly revised, although it seemed that many had not actually read it. A particularly colorful letter to Mayor Braman asked him to "convey to these bean-brained nitwits who are authoring this bulletin that the last thing in this world our youngsters need is the favorable viewpoint on drugs of a bunch of fuzzy-minded morally bankrupt degenerates."

Much of the criticism centered on a section called "Up, Up, and Away" which highlighted reasons people use drugs. Early readers felt the section was too positive about drug-related effects and experiences. Mayor Braman agreed that the section needed stronger rebuttal.

In a response, the Youth Commission’s director emphasized that this was an early draft, but noted that "any publication dealing with the subject of youth and drugs must be scrupulously honest. Young people of today are very knowledgeable on this subject, and are able to quickly differentiate fact from myth. There is consensus that a highly moralistic, unrealistic approach will be rejected out-of-hand by our prospective readers." As for the Up, Up, and Away section, he pointed out that these "pro" arguments must be addressed, as "denial of their existence is to avoid looking at this subject in an honest, forthright manner." His letter included a list of the local health, education, and law enforcement experts who were on the project's editorial board.

The pamphlet went through further drafts that met with Mayor Braman's approval, if not that of Rev. Miller and other critics. In response to one protest letter, Braman wrote, "[F]rankly I find it difficult to see why concerned people such as yourself believe that this is an effort to promote the use of drugs. I think the one thing that we adults must accept is that young people today talk an entirely different language than we do, and merely delivering them the old style hell-and-damnation lecture rolls off their backs like water off a duck, and doesn't affect them in the slightest."

The pamphlets were finally printed in mid-1968 and were distributed along with a drug education syllabus funded by the Seattle Foundation and the Elks Club.

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Municipal Archives, City Clerk

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The Office of the City Clerk maintains the City's official records, provides support for the City Council, and manages the City's historical records through the Seattle Municipal Archives. The Clerk's Office provides information services to the public and to City staff.