Transport and society network
Hop-picking: a distributed archive.

This web site collects together materials now available on the social organisation of hop picking on the world wide web. The site concentrates on hop picking in Britain and in New York State in the United States of America.Two specific features of the social organisation of hop picking are revealed from the historic social accounts: (1)city dwellers played an important and under-recorded part in agricultural activities and (2)women and children were an important source of hop field labour.

The majority of the materials are fragments of a record: images of and texts about times now gone. But the re-integration of these fragments can provide a quality virtual record of work practices and work organisation which have long since disappeared. The use of stilts as a workforce skill in hop picking provides one surprising image of agricultural work organisation - click here for view 1 and here for view 2. Workers on stilts eventually gave way to machines with cradles in which workers stood to reach the top of the hop crop.

The "missing record" on urban women's labour in the agricultural fields of Britain and the United States can be recollected and bodies of work which were disattended to at the time of their writing can now be represented. The work of sociologist Annie Maclean provides us with a good start: her 'social worlds' approach to hop picking can now be re-covered and linked to other fragments of evidence.Click here for further information on Annie Maclean. For her publication on the work of hop picking go to 1909-10 With the Oregon hop pickers. American Journal of Sociology, 15, 83-95.

Showcase link

Hop picking exhibit at the Hampshire Museum

Hoppin' down in Kent and Hampshire, United Kingdom:

The annual migration from the cities of Britain (London, Portsmouth, Birmingham)to the hop fields of Kent and Hampshire and Sussex and Worcestershire was a mass movement. It left its register in literature, in song, and in the family histories of its many female and child workers. The official records of this employment held by brewing companies and hop farmer have all but disappeared without any thorough appreciation of the role of women in this industry being achieved. The links below and the sub-headings under which they are gathered provide a re-integration or recollection of materials and - for researchers interested in transforming 'the missing record' of this mass annual movement of female labour into a fuller and more detailed social history account - identify disparate archives and primary materials that can be interrogated for further detail.

Respite from the city: urban workers in agriculture - their own accounts

From the streets of London: contemporary observations on London's hop pickers

Labour from cities other than London:

The local perspective on hop picking and hop pickers:

Life on the hop fields: an e-gallery

Hoppers' huts: 'holiday homes' and rough accommodation:

Family labour and absences from school: social challenges and official accommodations:

Religious and University Missions in the hopfields - resident philanthropy:

Entertainment on the hop field - the magic lantern show

Pathe news archive on hop picking in Kent: on line access to contemporary film

Rural conflict and industrial struggle in the hopfields:

Movement and migration: the seasonal transport of hop labour from city to field:

Travellers, gypsies and the hopfields

Hop picking and festivals of labour: challenges to existing social order?

Hop picking and the railways: steaming to work on the Hop Picker Specials

History of hop production in Kent:

Literary, artistic and dramatic perspectives on hop pickers:

Resources for further research: identifying archives from the web:

Hop picking in New York State, USA:

Respite from the city: urban workers in agriculture

Life on the hop fields: an e-gallery

Hop picking and festivals of labour: old customs, new heritages

At home in the hopfield: domestic organisation and provisioning

Hop production history in New York State - the impact of Prohibition

The hop houses of New York State - a disappearing architecture

Resources for further research: identifying archives from the web:

Hop picking in Washington and Oregon States, USA

Life on the hop fields: an e-gallery

Work organisation in the hop fields of Washington: time books, high pole men, Chinese and female labor

Hop picking and the local business environment:

Agricultural photographic archives: research resources

Companion literature and web sites:

Pull No More Bines by O'NEILL, GILDA Publisher: THE WOMEN'S PRESS Binding: PAPERBACK ISBN: 0704342294 London labour to Kent, United Kingdom
Hops And Hop Picking R Filmer £5.99 Shire United Kingdom
Jenkins, Freda W. [Salem] You picked what? Salem, Or., F.W. Jenkins, 1993. 51 p. $7.50, spiral bdg. (Available from Marion County Historical Society, 260 12th St., Salem, OR 97301) Memories of hop picking in Marion County. Oregon, USA
Annie MacLean, 1909/10, With the Oregon hop pickers. American Journal of Sociology, 15, 83-95. Oregon, USA
Voices of Kent Hop Pickers by Hilary Heffernan - Tempus Publishing, 1999 I.S.B.N.: 0752411306
The Annual Hop London to Kent by Hilary Heffernan - Tempus Publishing, 1996 I.S.B.N.: 0752403796 R.R.P.: £ 10.99
Kent, UK
7 8

An account of the social organisation of British hop picking can be found in: Grieco, Margaret (1996) Workers' dilemmas: recruitment, reliability and repeated exchange. Routledge

Women's employment based seasonal migration is greatly under-recorded in existing social history. Hopping is one area in which such under-recording took place - the 'missing record' - the seasonal migration of the Scottish herring girls is another. Click here for a web based archive of relevant materials.

The site is managed by:
Margaret Grieco,
Professor of Transport and Society,
Transport Research Institute, Napier University,
66 Spylaw Road, Edinburgh, EH10 5BR
e-mail at