Photograph, Eigenbrot Brewery, 1888


This photograph shows thirty-nine men posing for the camera outside the Eigenbrot Brewery in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1888. The men are not identified, but their clothing and various positions—some seated and others standing on top of barrels—indicates a mixed group of perhaps owners, managers, and workers at the Eigenbrot Brewery. The men seated in front wearing coats, ties, and more formal hats are also holding beer steins. Looming behind them are six huge beer casks, one of which includes the six point brewers’ star (Brauerstern) on its end.

German immigrants made a significant impact on brewing history in Baltimore. In the mid-nineteenth century, individuals established their own companies or formed partnerships to build breweries for small-scale, local production. These early efforts grew quickly with the adoption of new technologies and transportation systems as well as the rapid expansion of markets. Although Henry Eigenbrot was American-born, he benefitted from the business successes of these German immigrants, particularly Ferdinand Joh, his father-in-law. Joh had established a brewery with another immigrant, Philip Odenwald, in 1862, and after Odenwald’s death a decade later, Joh went into business for himself. After Joh’s death, Eigenbrot inherited the brewery in 1876, at which time the company already had its own bottling plant. By 1891, Eigenbrot was producing 14,000 barrels annually and, with a new partner and plant expansions, production increased to 45,000 barrels per year by 1895. At the turn of the twentieth century, the brewery was producing 100,000 barrels per year. The Eigenbrot brewery remained in business until the start of Prohibition in 1920.

This photograph is part of a large collection of brewing material donated to the museum in 1967 by former brewmaster Walter Voigt, of Ruxton, Maryland, near Baltimore. Voigt’s collection consists of objects and archival materials reflecting the history of brewing in the mid-Atlantic region between 1870 and the beginnings of consolidation and large-scale, industrial production in the 1960s. His correspondence reveals an interest in preserving the history of brewing in America before brewmasters were “replaced by chemical engineers and highly trained chemists in modern laboratories.” Voigt’s papers are housed in the museum’s Archives Center, Collection #ACNMAH 1195, “Walter H. Voigt Brewing Industry Collection, 1935-1967.”

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Work and Industry: Food Technology, Food, Work, Industry & Manufacturing


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Walter Voigt

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: AG.MHI-M-9491ACatalog Number: MHI-M-9491AAccession Number: 276730

Object Name: photograph

Measurements: overall: 8 in x 10 in; 20.32 cm x 25.4 cm


Record Id: nmah_867060

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