The Brewing History Initiative collects objects, archival materials, and oral histories to better tell the role brewing has played in American history.

These things are coming to a special place. The Museum preserves and protects an unparalleled collection of more than 3 million American treasures. It holds iconic objects such as the Star-Spangled Banner and President Abraham Lincoln's top hat. Now, materials related to America's brewing history have a home here, too.

Objects and Archival Collections

Because beer and brewing connect to all facets of American life, materials related to brewing history exist in collections throughout the Museum.


Examples include:

  • Beer tankards brought by European immigrants to America in the 1800s
  • Trade cards, calendars, and other advertisements for American breweries in the 1800s and 1900s
  • Selected records of brewers’ hops and malt imports, brewing logs, and other records, pre- and post-Prohibition
  • Photographs and brewing equipment from breweries in the late 1800s and early 1900s
  • Sheet music celebrating beer’s consumer culture in the early 1900s
  • Political ephemera related to Temperance movements, Prohibition, and Prohibition’s repeal
  • Trade literature and brewing industry publications
  • Beer bottles and cans, can openers, and objects from taverns and bars

The initiative is adding to these holdings by acquiring a wide variety of items that document recent and contemporary histories of home brewing and craft beer in America.

Such items include:

  • Recipes, brewing logs, or brewing equipment of brewmasters and homebrewers
  • Business plans, advertising material, labels, personal papers, and photographs of brewers, teachers, and writers
  • Newsletters and communications of home brewing clubs, especially predating the internet
  • Objects and documents demonstrating the transition from homebrewing to craft brewing
  • Prototypes, business licenses, and other items demonstrating the professionalization of early craft brewing

Explore all our digitized brewing history collections.

Researchers interested in viewing archival materials related can schedule an appointment with the Museum’s Archives Center.