The history of American agriculture has been marked by tremendous transformations. Over the past 70 years, farming has become both more efficient and more sustainable, even as fewer and fewer Americans make their living as farmers.
With the Agriculture Innovation and Heritage Archive, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is asking the public to help us preserve the innovations and experiences of farming and ranching across the United States. Visitors can share their stories about the technologies and innovations that have changed agricultural work, as well as how these changes have affected their communities. The museum hopes to build a comprehensive digital archive of modern agriculture through user-submitted personal stories, photos, and other ephemera.
The archive has a strong focus on personal stories. Stories accepted into the archive website explore the impact of agricultural innovation on individuals and communities. Stories that promote a particular product, service, or business will not be accepted.
In mid-April 2014, the Museum will launch a story collecting effort focused on youth agricultural education. Whether you participate in FFA, 4-H, agriculture-related clubs, or formal agricultural courses—now or in the past—we want to see your story and photos in the Agriculture Innovation and Heritage Archive.
This online archive depends on your support. Your stories will be used by the Smithsonian’s staff to help prepare new exhibitions like American Enterprise, and several entries will be featured on our museum’s blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account. Additionally, all accepted submissions will be preserved and made publicly available on the archive's website, creating a new database for students, researchers, and scholars. For more on the story behind the archive, see this blog post by the project's lead curator, Peter Liebhold.
Changes in American agriculture have affected us all; this initiative will help all Americans explore and appreciate this aspect of our shared experience.
Find out more on how to participate or share your story now. You can also sign up to receive e-mail updates from the archive. If you have questions about the archive, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page or send an e-mail.