Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Website URL
Food and drink, beer and brewing, race, ethnicity, gender, consumer culture, material culture, urban history, public history, nineteenth century, twentieth century, New Orleans history, American history
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Theresa McCulla is the historian of the American Brewing History Initiative at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. She is a cultural and social historian of the 19th- and 20th-century United States. McCulla’s work explores representations of race, ethnicity, and gender in consumer culture and material culture, especially in conjunction with food and drink. She is writing a book about race in the 19th- and 20th-century New Orleans food industry.

McCulla earned a PhD in American Studies and an MA in History from Harvard University; a Culinary Arts Diploma from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts; and a BA in Romance Studies from Harvard College. Previously, she worked as an Arcadia Fellow for the Colonial North American Project at Harvard Library; managed the Food Literacy Project for Harvard University Dining Services; cooked in sweet and savory restaurant kitchens in Cambridge, MA, and Washington, DC; and worked as a European media analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Recent Publications


“Fava Beans and Báhn Mì: Ethnic Revival and the New New Orleans Gumbo,” Quaderni Storici 51 no. 1 (April 2016): 71-102. Special issue: Food, Migration, and Mobility in Historical Perspective: Nineteenth to Twenty-First Century.


Prohibition was Fantastic for American Beer, or, Cheers to Homebrewers,” O Say Can You See? Blog of the National Museum of American History (April 7, 2018)

Five Myths About Beer,” Washington Post (May 26, 2017)

Media and Interviews

Tina Caputo, “Theresa McCulla: The Smithsonian’s Indiana Jones of Beer History,” October (June 19, 2018)

Bailey Trela, “Brew’s Clues: A Historian Investigates America’s Beer Boom,” Harvard Magazine (March/April 2018)

Red, White, and Brew,” Sidedoor podcast, Season 2, episode 2 (July 2017)

How the Story of Beer is the Story of America,” All Things Considered, NPR (July 3, 2017)

For the Smithsonian’s New Beer Historian, It’s All About Passion for the Brew,” NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (February 4, 2017)

Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, 20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Food History, Gender, Local & Regional, Material Culture, Migration & Immigration, Museums, Public History, Race, Slavery, Urban History, Women