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Beer Research Guide: Archival Research

ARCHIVAL RESEARCH

What Are Archives and How Do They Differ from Libraries? 

There is a great deal of overlap between what is held in archives and found in libraries. An archives may have library as part of its name, or an archives may be a department within a library. Archival and historical materials can be found in state governments, private corporations, museums, or historical societies. Also remember that historical materials can also be found on-site in a physical format, on the shelves of a local library, or online as a digital record. While finding archival collections can be tricky, here are ideas to get you started.  

The Society of American Archivists published "Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research" to help you understand how to use archives, but also how to donate to them. 

  • Talk with an archivist! We know a lot. 
  • Archives and special collections provide online access to their collections. If you find something online or referenced in a collection that is interesting to you, see where the item is held, do an internet search for the repository, and write them an email (or call, if you like). 
  • Use bibliographies. If you find a book, article, or dissertation that fits your topic, see which collections they have used or sources they have cited.
  • Same goes for Wikipedia: it isn't perfect but it can give you context and get you started with sources. I like to use Wikipedia when I am trying to learn more about my topic, when major events happened, and who might have been involved. Wikipedia relies heavily on secondary sources, but you may find find "Related Links" that will lead you to repositories with historical materials or a "Bibliography" with well-known or popular books. 
  • ArchiveGrid is a worldwide database that includes guides to archival collections, or "finding aids," and other digitized materials. ​Archives West, and the Online Archive of California are similar databases of collection guides, but with a tighter geographic focus. 
  • Do a search on the Library of Congress, National Archives, or Digital Public Library of America
  • A less controlled "search database" is by using your favorite internet browser. Online the "archives" is a word that is attached to anything that isn't brand new, so I advise combining your topical search term with words like "library" or "papers" or "manuscript" or "collection" or "historic." 

NEWSPAPERS

Newspapers can serve as essential primary sources for historical research. Through eyewitness reporting, editorials, legislative updates, letters, advertisements, election returns, marriage and death notices, maps, cartoons, illustrations and more, historical newspapers offer researchers local and national perspectives on American history, culture, and daily life. The library has a guide to our current and historical newspaper holdings. 

There are several online resources for digitized newspapers. 

  • Chronicling America is a full text searchable database of digitized newspapers. It is produced by the United States National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is maintained by the LOC.
  • There are also state-based newspaper digitization projects, while most content is likely also in the Chronicling America database, there may be additional information about newspapers or different search features on different site. 
  • New York Times: Library database access. Students and staff also have full access to NYTimes.com and NYT mobile apps (see the New York Times guide for information on how to access this resource).
  • America’s Historical Newspapers Thousands of fully searchable historical newspapers from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. (coverage 1690-1922). 
  • While we don't have a subscription through the library, newspapers.com is a valuable resource for those who are doing newspaper research post-1923.  

NOTED ARCHIVAL COLLECTIONS IN THE US

The Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives, established in 2013, is the first in the U.S. dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing materials that tell the story of Northwest brewing. We focus on collecting materials related the regional hops and barley farming, craft and home brewing, cider, mead, and the OSU research that dates to the 1890s. 

Cornerstones for the archives are the papers of world renowned beer historian Fred Eckhardt; the records of the Oregon Hop Growers Association; extensive industry periodicals and book collections; and research reports on plant disease, breeding, and processing. The archives also include oral histories with growers, brewers, and scientists; homebrew club newsletters; industry periodicals; photographs; memorabilia; and advertising materials and art from breweries throughout the state.

There are noteworthy collecting and digitization projects around the country. 

NOTED ARCHIVAL COLLECTIONS IN THE UK

The National Brewing Library is an English language collection relating to brewing, distilling, other alcoholic beverages and dependent trades. The collection aims to be the primary and most comprehensive source of information in the UK, on the scientific, technological, historical and social aspects of the above.

In 2008 the personal library, published books, and research papers of Michael Jackson "The Beer Hunter" were gifted to Oxford Brookes Library and named "The Michael Jackson Collection."   

  • Also related is the Michael Jackson Beer Hunter site. Jackson, who died 2007, was recognized as one of the best-known beer writers in the world. This site is a tribute and an archive of his writings. 

The Scottish Brewing Archive Association is an independent body run by industry experts and brewing enthusiasts. Since 1991 it's archival collections have been housed in the Glasgow University Archives and Business Records Centre. SBAA is part of the Scottish Business Archives. You can find a list of collections online