The Anheuser-Busch Corporate Library

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Bound collection of Der Amerikanische Bierbauer

As an MBAA heritage-minded individual, can you even imagine discovering a primary resource that would provide reporter-like “I was there” details of our very first National Convention that was held in Chicago in 1887? Can you image finding the roll call detailing the delegates and their guests? Quotes from speakers? Lunch menu items? Can you imagine finding the same information for MBAA's first BOG meeting that took place in October 1887 in Cincinnati? All these heritage gems, and much, much more, are exactly what I found when I recently paid a visit to the Anheuser-Busch Corporate Library in St. Louis, Missouri.

Fellow Heritage Committee member Bill Weisenburger and I made the trip for the sole purpose of acquiring a general understanding of what the iconic brewery had housed in its historical archive collection over its 164-year history. We were certainly not disappointed. What we found there was nothing short of humbling and awe-inspiring.

We were welcomed and assisted by Erica Flanagan, archivist at Anheuser-Busch. She provided us with an overview tour of their treasures. While everything is housed under glass, lock, and key, heritage-minded Erica provided us access to anything we wanted to see up close and personal. Her enthusiasm for her work was contagious.

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Wing's Brewers Handbook 1884

My eyes must have popped from their sockets when I gazed upon collections of:

  • The Western Brewer, 1877–1916
  • The Brewer's Journal, 1893–1919
  • Der Amerikanische Bierbrauer, 1867–1917

Perched upon those shelves were dozens of other individual treasures, such as:

  • Wing's Brewer's Handbook, 1884
  • Wahl and Henius Brewing and Malting, 1908
  • The London and Country Brewer, 1759
  • Pasteur's Studies In Fermentation, 1876 (in original French)
  • Kronenburg's 200 Year Celebration of its history
  • J.P. Arnold’s Origin and History of Beer and Brewing, 1911

Many of these priceless volumes I had only seen as part of online digital collections such as those at OCLC or the Hathi Trust Digital Library. Now, here they were, sitting right in front of me, exuding the very splendor of their timeless antiquity.

Bill and I were able to spend two days studying these treasures for the priceless information they contained. Many of the journals were in German, and Bill was able to translate these on the spot. We carefully digitized several pages that were pertinent to MBAA history specifically, such as the details of our first MBAA Convention and first BOG meeting. These might be appropriate for inclusion within our own MBAA archives at Iowa State University.

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Kronenburg Brewery's 200 Year Celebration 1729-1929

Also of interest were bound copies of the AB Ink, the company's monthly newsletter that was available to its employees. Issues of the AB Ink were filled with information about the company, its beer brands, industry news, and various government and political reporting. AB Ink issues published during the world wars reported extensively on AB employees who had either enlisted or had been drafted into the U.S. Armed Forces. Those issues included photos of those employees, the progress of their training, their deployment, and even those who had been captured and listed as POWs.

The March 1941 AB Ink reported on a two-car moveable first-aid post that Anheuser-Busch had generously donated to Great Britain, even before American involvement in the war. This hospital on wheels will “...take care of civilians injured at the scenes of bombings. It will carry physicians, nurses, and emergency surgical equipment,” the AB Ink reported.

The AB archives are a historical gem of a collection. As MBAA Heritage Chair, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to visit the AB Corporate Library. I appreciate and am inspired that the company continues to preserve their amazing treasures. I am also extremely grateful to Erica Flanagan, who so graciously offered her vast experience as a museum curator and archivist, answering any questions that we had. The collection is in good hands!

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Your Heritage Chair, totally immersed at the AB Archives
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