Little Brown Jug Oral History Project
Delaware County Historical Society
The Little Brown Jug Oral History Project is an effort to capture the stories of people who have been involved with the Little Brown Jug harness race, a world-renown event, and one of the Triple Crown races for pacers. The Jug, as it is called, is a cultural touchstone for Delaware County Ohio and has been since the race’s inception in 1946.
The individuals interviewed for the LBJOHP include horse trainers, drivers, an announcer who has called the race for more than 50 years, long-time attendees including a woman who was at the first Jug, support people including a longtime blacksmith, the head of security for the race, and relatives of the race’s founder.
Our goal is to interview a wide range of people who can tell stories about the Jug, its traditions, the ways it has changed and stayed the same, and how it seems special to them. The stories and images that the oral history project collects will be accessible to researchers or others interested in the Jug.
Background of The Little Brown Jug Race:
The Little Brown Jug race is held on the third Thursday of September as part of the Delaware County Fair. Since its beginnings in 1946, the Jug has been conducted on the world’s fastest half-mile track.
Several things make the Jug special:
- It is a world-class event held at a county fair
- Spectators can get close to the track, the horses, and drivers
- Is an example of “heat racing” where the winner must compete in two heats rather than a single race.
The Little Brown Jug hopes to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2020.
Contents of the Archive:
The contents of the archive are continuously enlarged because the LBJOHP has no expiration date. We continue to interview individuals and accept media that they and others supply.
The Archive currently (May, 2020) contains:
- 17 video interviews
- 11 audio-only interviews
- 21 short-clip videos of racing activity
- 11 short-clip audios of racing activity
- over 1,000 digital photographs
- a finding aid that describes and locates the audio, video, and photographic items.
Access to the Archive
The project team is working to create an online portal to provide viewing of the archive materials. Watch this page for further information and access.
An Invitation to Participate:
If you have been involved with the Little Brown Jug and have either stories to tell and/or images to contribute to the Oral History Project, please contact us at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide your name, the general nature of your potential contribution, and the best way we can contact you.
The LBJOHP is led by Richard Leavy and Karen Cowan, both volunteers with the Delaware County Historical Society. But the project could not have been launched and maintained without the assistance of the following: Ohio Humanities Council, who awarded the project a planning grant; Dr. Howard Sacks, emeritus professor of sociology at Kenyon College, who provided guidance in our initial stages; Dr. Cassie Patterson, of the Ohio State University’s Center for Folklore Studies, and her students (Jess Lamar Reese Holler, Tony Maggio, Mariah Marsden, Laura Pearce, and Sydney Varajon) who took photos and recorded sound during Jug Weeks (2018 and 2019), interviewed numerous individuals, and archived all of their contributions; Jay Wolf and the Little Brown Jug Society. Jay provided entrée to the Jug and helped transcribe interviews; Dan Leary of the United States Trotting Association who enabled interviews with three famous harness drivers; the Delaware County District Library who provided a quiet space for interviews; Brad Cowan, our videographer; and the more than two dozen people who agreed to be interviewed for the project. Without the help of these people the project would have gone nowhere.