Saturday, 6 June 2009

How to look in archives

I've had a couple of queries about archives. How do you find where brewing records are. How do you get access to them. That sort of thing.

It would be great if more people would start looking at the wonderful treasure trove that archived brewing records form. I can't possibly get round it all myself. So here are a few tips to get started.

Where are brewing records kept?

In two main places:

  1. Public archives. These are mostly run by local authorities, but there are others at universities. At many, you can just turn up at and request to see documents. This entails filling in a form with the document number and waiting for 15 - 20 minutes for then to fetch it from storage. At the London Metropolitan Archives you can order up to five documents at a time. Its opening times are:
    Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9.30am - 4.45pm,
    Tuesday and Thursday 9.30am - 7.30pm

  2. Company archives. Getting to see these is more of a problem. They aren't generally open to the public and you'll have to ask nicely if you can come and take a peek.

How can I find brewing records?

In the case of the UK, it couldn't be easier. The National Archives has a search engine that covers most of the publicly held archives. You need to search for things like "gyle book", "brewing book" or search for production records of breweries. You'd be amazed how much there is. I've not really looked for the brewing records elsewhere as I haven't finished with the London Metropolitan Archives yet.

Canada seems to have something similar in the Archives Canada site.

I've not been able to find a centralised search site for the USA, but I have been able to track down archives with brewery records. For example, the University of Wisconsin and Northwest Digital Archives. I'm sure there are many more.

How can I record what I find?
Some archives allow you to take photocopies, but often that isn't allowed for material bound as a book in case the spine is damaged. Photography (without a flash) is usually permitted.

So go on. Get researching. You've no excuse not to.


impymalting said...

This is very useful--thanks for posting it!

ealusceop said...

Yeah, thank you. I'll check and seek for sure.

Tim said...

Ron, thanks for the encouragement. I will do some more searching for brewing records now.

I've found some US state health reports on Google Books that contain final gravities and ABV. Though I fear I may be too far from any universities to search their archives, Boston isn't really a college town.

Leigh said...

interesting post, mate, didnt even occur...

Joe said...

Some news about the Beamish archives:

Fancy Hyperlink