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From Barley to Wheat, From Hops to Yeast, Oregon State University archives the Beer Brewing Movement

by on June 10, 2014

One of my earlier blogs entitled “What’s So Special About your Library?” discussed special collections. Oregon State University has recently begun archiving a collection that would perfectly fit into the class of “special.”  “The Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives (OHBA) is a collecting, documentation, and community archiving project with a mission to collect and provide access to records related to hops production and the craft brewing industries (post-1970) in Oregon.” (University 2014)

While at first sight one may think this is just an excuse to collect unique beer bottles and paraphernalia, the collection is much more scientific than that.  “As the archive for the University, Special Collections & Archives has great collections related to the history of both hops and barley research at OSU, as well as fermentation science studies at the Department of Food Science and Technology.” (University 2014)  Beer may be just a pastime or a way to unwind for some, but there is a great deal of agricultural studies that goes into producing these beverages, and this is what the OHBA is focusing on.

“OHBA is the first archive in the United States dedicated to preserving and sharing this intertwined story of hops and beer, documenting all facets of the industries and uniting the social and cultural aspects of brewing with the science being done at OSU. The records we collect will allow scholars and researchers to explore the agricultural, scientific, farm labor, and cultural components of hop and brewing history. With both a land grant mission and open access objective, OHBA’s mission dovetails with other OSU Libraries & Press initiatives to provide access to unknown or inaccessible information, allowing for new forms of awareness, interaction, and scholarship.”  While this collection is specific to Oregon and Oregon State University, I foresee it developing to national proportions, perhaps as a consortium in other university and/or public libraries as part of the agricultural studies or local history departments.  In Toledo, Ohio , and we have a local beer with a lot of history called Buckeye Beer, which began production in 1838.  I am sure they would be interested in contributing to an archive of this material.  Look locally in your area to see if there are breweries that may also like to contribute to this collection.

Works Cited

University, Oregon State. Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives. 2014. (accessed May 14, 2014).