Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive FAQs

Who can participate?

Anyone can explore the materials displayed on this website--they may be of particular value to researchers, museum professionals, and those in the agricultural community. Anyone who has a story, photo, audio, or video related to agricultural change in America can upload their stories for possible inclusion in the website. This blog post on the archive explains how we envision it will be used by researchers both inside and outside of the museum.

You do not need to be a farmer or rancher to add your story. If you've been impacted by agricultural change in your community, share your story. If a family member grew up on a farm, help them share their experiences with the archive. 

What should I include in my submission?

Your stories, photos, videos, and audio files should connect to the past 70 years of agricultural life in America, especially with how agriculture has changed over time. Our how to participate page includes a list of themes that we’re particularly interested in, as well as questions that might inspire your reflections. We hope that you will include personal experiences and family memories, and that you will write your story in a way that’s comfortable for you. We’re interested in the real, complicated, sometimes messy stories of agricultural life in America. Share what you saw, heard, felt, tasted, or smelled; our strongest memories can be ones that are highly emotional or are connected to major changes in our lives.

 

Your story should be a personal one and should not include commercial or promotional language for a product, service, or business. Share your story about agricultural inventions, processes, or products that presented creative solutions to challenges without promoting those products. Tell us about the motivation for these innovations. How did they impact agricultural work and life? Why address the challenge in that particular way? Where did the motivation or inspiration for the change come from? 

I recently submitted my story, photo, audio, or video to the website. When will it appear?

 

Every story submitted goes through a review process by members of the Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive team. After submitting, you will receive an e-mail confirming that your story has been received. Then, your story will be reviewed, a process that can take between 1-4 weeks. Once your story has been reviewed, you will receive an e-mail notifying you whether your story has been approved for inclusion on the website or if it has not been approved. Approved stories will then appear on the website.

In some cases, we may contact you to ask you to make changes to your story. If we are curious about a particular element, we may ask you to add more information or share a photograph. If your story includes promotional or commercial language, we may ask you to make changes so that your story is more personal in tone. 

My story was not accepted. Why not?

The museum is seeking authentic, personal stories of individuals that do not appear to endorse a product, company, or organization. Stories that are acceptable to be displayed on the website should be relevant to the mission of the project, reflect an authentic voice, and have clear connections to the topic of American agriculture in the last 70 years. Stories must comply with the terms and conditions. On some occasions, a story may be accepted into the archive but not published publicly on the website. If this is the case with your story, we will let you know. 

The primary reason for stories not being accepted is the presence of overly commercial or promotional content and language. Stories that promote a product, service, organization, or business are not acceptable. We are more interested in stories that explore the impact of an agricultural innovation, instead of celebrating or advertising its merits. Why did a particular innovation come to be? What was the inspriation or motivation for this change? How did it impact agricultural life and work? What memories do you have of life before and after the innovation was made? 

My story was not accepted. Now what?

We recommend that you browse the website to see stories that have been accepted so that you can develop a sense of the material we are collecting. Once you make edits to your story, you can resubmit it for consideration.

We recommend that you browse the website to see stories that have been accepted so that you can develop a sense of the material we are collecting. Once you make edits to your story, you can resubmit it for consideration. 

Will my story be edited?

The only changes we may make: correcting spelling, correcting grammar, and removing rare occasions of obscene language in an otherwise acceptable story. Please see the terms and conditions for more information.

I want to share an audio or video file as part of my story. How can I do this?

On the "share your story" page, you can upload three files, including audio, video, photo, or text-based documents. 

How many stories, photos, videos, or audio files can I submit? Are there limits to how much data I can upload?

Stories are limited to 1,000 words, and we encourage you to submit multiple stories. Additionally, you can upload and attach three files to your story that add up to a maximum size of 50 MB. If your file size exceeds these limits, contact us and we will work with you directly.

I’ve already shared my story, photo, video, or audio with another museum, historical society, research site, or publication, do you still want it?

Yes. Please refer to our terms and conditions if you have questions about your ability to share the content.

I don’t have an e-mail address. Can I still participate?

An e-mail address is required to share your story via this website as we need to be able to contact you electronically regarding your story. Those without e-mail addresses may choose to work with a friend or family member who does use e-mail to submit their story. The e-mail address associated with your story will never be displayed online. You can also contact the project at the address below. 

Agricultural Innovation and Experience Archive
National Museum of American History
MRC 629
PO Box 37012
Washington DC  20013-7012

Why do you need my name and e-mail address? What will you do with that information?

To create the best historical record of agricultural change in America, we need to identify our sources and be able to contact you regarding your story if the need arises. You will be identified on the website by your first name and last initial (for example, “John S.”). Your e-mail address will never appear on the website. We will e-mail you to confirm that we have received your story and, later, to let you know whether it was accepted or rejected. We may also e-mail you if our research team has questions regarding your submission. We will never e-mail you anything unrelated to this project, and we will never share your information with commercial vendors.

I am planning to interview a relative or community member. Do you have any advice?

Before the interview, get prepared by deciding how to record the interview (we recommend a digital recorder) and testing the equipment. If you don’t plan to record the interview, determine who will take notes and transcribe them. Capturing the actual words of the interviewee is often better than putting their story into your words.

Do some background research on the person, where they lived and worked, and agricultural changes they might have witnessed. Make a list of questions--you can refer to our list of themes for key questions you might consider asking.

Prepare the interviewee by letting them know why you’re interviewing them and how their story will be used and familiarizing them with the terms and conditions of this project. Ask them to do some thinking about their memories of agricultural life--encourage them to bring photos or documents that might jog memories. Pick a quiet space for the interview where you are unlikely to be interrupted. Decide if the interview will take place all at once or in multiple sessions. Set the date and time of the interview and make sure to bring your equipment.

Start the interview by noting the date, time, full name of interviewee, your name, and location of the interview. Begin with an easy, general question to make sure your interviewee is comfortable talking with you. Ask your questions but also allow for the interviewee to identify topics they most wish to discuss, keeping in mind that this project focuses on stories relevant to agricultural life. If a question or topic makes the interviewee uncomfortable, offer to switch topics or take a break. If the interviewee refers to photos, documents, or other material that relate to their story, consider arranging for these items to be scanned and submitted.

End the interview by thanking the interviewee for their time. Make a plan to follow up with them to let them know when you submit the material to this project and when it is accepted or rejected.

After the interview, begin the process of submitting the story. Clarify that you conducted the interview and that the interviewee understood the terms and conditions of this project.

Are there resources available for teachers or students to use this project in the classroom?

Not yet. We plan to develop resource kits for educators that will allow students in upper grades to act as gatherers and researchers of American agricultural history. If you’d like to be notified when kits are available, sign up for our e-mail list. For now, teachers are encouraged to get students involved in writing or recording interviews with people in their local community, gathering photos, and other activities. If students are below the age of 12, an adult must submit the data for them.
 

I have a story, photo, video, or audio file that does not relate to agricultural life. Should I submit it?

Only material related to the mission of this project will be accepted. The material you have may be historically relevant in many ways but we are unable to accept content not related to the topic of this project. Future projects may focus on other topics. For other questions related to donating stories and objects not related to agriculture to the Smithsonian, see the Smithsonian FAQs.

Can I share a link to my story?

 

Thanks for sharing your story! We are currently working on a "share" tool that will allow you to send a direct link to your story to friends and family members. For now, the best way to find your story within the archive is to type a keyword into the "search" bar on the Browse Stories page. Sign up for the e-mail list to receive an e-mail when the "share" feature is available. 

How can I find my story?

 

If you received an e-mail notifying you that your story was published, go to the Browse Stories page. In the search bar, type in a keyword that relates to your story. For example, if your story related to farming watermelons, then "watermelon" would be a good keyword. Then click the search button.

Please note that you cannot currently share a direct link to your story. We are working on this feature and hope to make it available soon.

I have another question about the Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive and cannot find the answer. Who do I contact?

You can send us an e-mail using this form. A member of the team will get back to you as soon as possible. 

How can I stay in touch with updates to the Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive?

Sign up for the newsletter. You can see our first, second, and third issues of the newsletter.