Remember that “dream beer job” posting that went viral on social media a while back? I remember it well because at least a dozen family members and friends of mine sent me the link and told me I’d be “perfect for the job.” While it appeared to be an interesting position, I’m no historian. The job was also based in D.C., and working 3,000 miles away from my wife would put a strain on our marriage.
Anyway, the Brewers Association just announced that The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History appointed Theresa McCulla as historian to oversee its American Brewing History Initiative. She seems like the perfect fit.
McCulla, a social and cultural historian of food in the U.S. from the early 1800s to today, has focused on the role of food and drink in generating ideas about history, culture and identity in America, and her experience and expertise in research, writing and collecting oral histories is extensive. She will receive a doctorate from Harvard University in American Studies in May 2017, and she holds a culinary arts diploma from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts’ Professional Chefs Program. Additionally, between 2007 and 2010, McCulla directed the Food Literacy Project for Harvard University Dining Services, and she managed Harvard’s two local farmers’ markets.
As brewing historian, McCulla will design a research plan, conduct oral histories, and publish for both scholarly and popular audiences. She will conduct research, build on existing collections within the museum, and document technological, agricultural and business innovations in brewing, advertising history and the role of beer in consumer culture and community life, with a special emphasis on homebrewing and the craft brewing industry.
This three-year, American Brewing History Initiative is part of the Smithsonian Food History program and was created in 2016 to collect, document and preserve the history of brewing, craft brewers and the beer industry, as well as explore how brewing connects to larger themes in American history. This initiative was made possible through a donation from the Brewers Association of Boulder, Colorado, the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers.
“Brewing history connects us to stories of tradition and innovation, agriculture and industry, and other broad strands of the American experience,” said Paula Johnson, food history curator at the museum. “Theresa will focus on brewing in the 20th and 21st centuries, including the history of consolidation and the tremendous rise in home and craft brewing since the 1970s.”
For updates on the project and upcoming programs, visit http://s.si.edu/BrewHistory.