In previous pages of our Communicator, I have shared several examples of what I like to refer to as "Hands-On-Heritage." These are examples of ordinary people from all walks of life who come into possession of items of historical significance. It could be a photograph, book, letter, document, journal, print, unique memento...some item that their inherent heritage-mindset tells them NOT to throw away and NOT to discard, but to preserve. More often than not, that whisper on their shoulder, tugging them to preserve, requires something else of them. They are usually required to make an investment in time researching their item, possibly photographing it, writing a letter or two...or three, and a parade of emails. All because of their desire to preserve rather than discard.
I want to share a real gem of an example. Very recently, MBAA received the following brief email:
"I have a stein commemorating the 1890 Brewmasters Convention. Can you tell me the rarity of this item?”
You have what?? Really??? Well...uummm... ok...
I have had boatloads of requests for information about items that “commemorate brewmaster events.” My baseline response is usually to explain the difference between the U.S. Brewers Association and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas. In like manner, my response to this individual was as follows:
"There were two entities at that time: The U.S. Brewers Association, formed in 1862, and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA...our group), chartered in 1887. So, the stein could commemorate either group's annual meeting or convention. The Brewer's Association held their 30th annual meeting in Washington in May, 1890. Our MBAA held its 4th national convention in October, 1890 in Philadelphia. Perhaps the stein indicates which group it represents..."
The individual requesting clarification sent me the following photos:
I was beside myself. To my uproarious joy, the stein was indeed a personalized memento from our 4th MBAA Convention, fully 124 years ago this very month! My translation from the front of the stein reads:
"Memories of the United States Brewmasters Convention, October, 1890 for...( I think) F. C. Geters (the name of an individual attendee)."
Wow...What a find! I will ensure that these photos find their way into our MBAA archives housed at Iowa State University. I am so very grateful for the individual who shared them with all of us.
That said, there really is a secondary yet very pertinent lesson here. Quite possibly, your very own district has closets and attics full of old, musty, tattered, weakening items depicting your district heritage. In a spirit of clutter reduction, you know that you need to do...something. But you just can't part with these treasured items. Maybe this is the time to think about “going digital.” If handled correctly, any item can be digitally preserved in perpetuity. Once done, it can be shared instantaneously, literally from one coast to the other. Amazing! Digital images are a very cost-effective solution to clearing clutter while preserving the importance... the core essence of any meaningful item. And THAT will be the focus of some heritage writing in these pages in the very near future.