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