FAO in North America

Smithsonian plows into America’s agricultural history

Submitted by OliviaEvans on June 25, 2013

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has recently launched a new digital archive featuring stories on agricultural innovations and technologies. Since World War II, American agriculture has changed dramatically—effecting many aspects of American life. Curator Peter Leibhold has been collecting stories from the public to help preserve the memory of these changes.

This is a big step for the Smithsonian. Normally, curators contact specific individuals and simply communicate with them to collect artifacts. This will be the first time that the Smithsonian will be collecting items on a public, user-submitted basis over the web. By reaching out online, the museum will be able to reach thousands of people and ultimately develop a more comprehensive, nuanced archive of American agriculture.

The museum has received over 40 submissions thus far. The breadth of perspectives is both fascinating and lush, ranging from tales of Hawaiian cowboys to 30-pound watermelons to the 1950s practice of “walking the beans” to clean up soybean fields.

Think you have a story from your family to tell? The Smithsonian is constantly searching for new entries, be they in the form of photographs, letters, documents, trade literature, or simple oral accounts. Browse or submit to the archive, and see America’s rich agricultural heritage first hand.

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