Visiting the MBAA Archives

​On May 1, 2013, I presented the Beer Steward Certificate Program in Waterloo, Iowa. My wife and I decided to go a bit early and drive the 10 hours to Iowa from our home in Columbus, Ohio. I wanted to take advantage of Waterloo’s proximity to the City of Ames, home to Iowa State University. MBAA’s surviving records, papers, documents...anything of historical significance are archived there. As the Heritage Chair, visiting MBAA’s archives was a “bucket list” item for me.
 
I wanted to spend the necessary time there to get a sense of what was archived and how accessible the archives were. Making that decision, we made the pilgrimage to Iowa State University via Dyersville, Iowa, of...”If you build it...they will come” fame, home of the “Field Of Dreams” movie set. We then continued on, right past Waterloo, and onto Ames. MBAA’s papers are at the Parks Library in their Special Collections Department. The library’s own “descriptive summary” of our collection, reads as follows:
 
creator:​ ​  Master Brewers Association of the Americas
​title:   ​Records
​dates:
  1887-[ongoing]
​extent:
  8.86 linear ft. (18 document boxes and 1 oversize box)
​collection number:
  MS 675
​repository:
  Special Collections Department, Iowa State University
​access:   ​Open for research
​publication rights:
  Consult Head, Special Collections Department
​preferred citation:
  Master Brewers Association of the Americas Records, MS 675, Special Collections Department,
  Iowa State University Library.
 
The collection (1887-[ongoing]) includes administrative records, committee records, constitutions and bylaws, convention materials, correspondence, meeting minutes, scholarship and award information, and St. Paul-Minneapolis District records. Committee files can include agendas, correspondence, minutes, and other related meeting materials. Convention materials can include Board of Governors meeting minutes, annual business meeting minutes, newsletters, and financial reports, and other supplemental reports.
 
Historical information, including copies of the original charter and other founding documents, can be found in the collection. However, the bulk of the collection dates from 1950 onward leaving the first 60 years of the organization only sparsely documented, though lists of past officers and previous convention locations were created for the 75th annual convention in 1962.
mbaaarchives1.jpg
Wow, 18 document boxes, and one “oversized” box totaling 8.86 linear feet. And, unfortunately as noted in the descriptive summary, our first 60 years is only “sparsely documented.” I am told by some of our more senior members that this is due to a combination of flood, fire, theft, and even malicious behavior. The mere fact that these items are now professionally archived ensures that they are better protected and should never be exposed to such fates again.
 
We arrived April 29 for our morning appointment. Laura Sullivan and her Special Collections staff were extremely helpful. In an attempt to maximize my time there, I had requested certain archival boxes and folders be pulled in advance. They had been pulled and were available when we arrived. I was most interested in Box 1, Folders 1-24, which are some of the oldest items archived, including copies of the original, hand-written charter. I also discovered that the claim of sparse documentation for our first 60 years to be quite true. Box 1 Folders 1 and 2 yield items from 1887, while Box 1 Folder 3 jumps straight to 1934.
 
mbaaarchives2.jpg
 The first half of page one of the original, hand-written charter.
 
 It was a full and fascinating day. I found many of the items I wanted. I also found that I could probably spend another whole week there, just perusing the collection, even in a general way. As the Heritage Chair, the staff was comfortable with me taking many of my own digital photographs, but they also offer a range of photocopying and digitizing services. I had them digitize a copy of our original charter. I am also very interested in collecting historical information from each individual district. Hopefully, this will be the focus of future visits to the collection.
 
Many thanks to Laura and the helpful staff at the Iowa State Parks Library Special Collections Department. And, your Heritage Chair checks off a “bucket list” item, while thinking about a return visit.
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