Tuesday, August 09, 2016

When the Smithsonian posted for a Beer Historian position ...

The Smithsonian's "help wanted" notice hit the airwaves on my birthday (August 3), and with lightning speed in social media posts, e-mails and candy-grams, a couple dozen of my friends very graciously urged me to go for it.

I'm flattered and humbled. Thank you very much for your thoughts.

However, I'm a realist, and all I've ever really wanted to do was make my own home base safe for better beer (and lots of other civic improvements, which I'll spare you in this beery context).

It goes back to that great (and unrealized) idea for Bank Street Brewhouse, the museum that never got off the ground.

ON THE AVENUES: Ice Cold WCTU (A Modest Proposal).

 ... The New Albany WCTU’s zenith was in the early 1900s, during its ultimately successful campaign for statewide and later national Prohibition. Fortunately, Prohibition’s myriad and well-documented failures served to discredit America’s teetotalers far better than my puny words ever could. Today, the craft brewing revolution flourishes in New Albany on the very same spot where beer’s enemies once conspired.

That’s delicious, and it’s why we need a monument to victory over the prohibitionists.

It's more water under yet another bridge, but the urge remains the same. I want to do things like this here, where I'm from -- teaching about beer, curating a beer museum, or something along these lines, perhaps in conjunction with selling beer, because drinking beer makes learning about beer far easier.

To all of you: I deeply appreciate your interest in my qualifications to work at the Smithsonian. I may be asking for your help to manage some small bit of something similar, here in New Albany.

What Does a Beer Historian Do?, by Susan Evans McClure (Smithsonian)

The American History museum’s latest job opening made headlines. But what does the job actually entail?

 ... Beer history is American history and a new historian joining the Smithsonian Food History team at the National Museum of American History will help the public make sense of the complex history of brewing. As part of the American Brewing History Initiative, a new project at the museum supported by the Brewers Association, the historian will explore how beer and brewing history connect to larger themes in American history, from agriculture to business, from culture to economics. Today, there are over 4,200 breweries in the United States, the most at any time since Prohibition. As American brewing continues to expand and change, and our understanding of beer in American history deepens, the Smithsonian is uniquely positioned to document the stories of American brewers and collect the material culture of the industry and brewing communities for the benefit of scholars, researchers and the public.

But what exactly does a brewing historian do?


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