Did you or someone you know work for the Tobin Packing Company of West Albany (1924-1981)? Do you have photographs, documents, paystubs, reports, or other artifacts from the company, or is there someone with whom you might conduct an oral history, whether in person or by phone?

The University at Albany’s Institute for History and Public Engagement is working with this year’s fellow, Dr. Kendra Smith-Howard, and graduate assistant, Hannah Swezey, to track down research that will be used as a case study this fall in Prof. Smith-Howard’s course, “The Culture and History of Food in the United States.” As important as this company was this Capital Region – with plants also in Rochester, Buffalo, Utica, and two in Iowa – the historical record is thin.

AND SO WE NEED YOUR HELP!

How it works

Usually, a “history harvest” is conducted in person. Members of the public are asked to search their attics, basements, scrapbooks and such for items of specific historical interest—in this case, Tobin Packing—and bring them to a central gathering place, where they can be photographed, scanned, etc.

We can’t gather together, but we can still search our homes for items and take pictures or scan what we find. Be sure to capture the entire document, including any important information such as dates. If it’s a three-dimensional object, please be sure to photograph it from all angles, in case there are identifying marks (such as underneath) about where it was made. If there’s a story that goes with the item, please write it down or record it as an audio or video file.

If you’re going to interview someone, here are some tips for how to do it (scroll down to “Interview Tips” – but do be sure to get their permission to be recorded, perhaps at the beginning of the recording).  Then please share it with us by email:  HistoryHarvest@albany.edu.

What NOT to do

Please do not do a web search and send us images or documents that you find. These have been curated by others and we are aware of them. (Thanks.) We only want materials that are in your personal possession.