January 2020

Groundbreaking Journal Tools & Tillage made Open Access

‘Sharing expertise about our agricultural past is one of the primary aims of the AIMA. Making Tools & Tillage available online represents a significant step towards realising this goal. With the support and generosity of the University Library Heidelberg, decades of fascinating scholarly work have now been made freely available to researchers worldwide. The AIMA community hopes that this represents a new phase in the sharing of knowledge and heralds the beginning of many fresh collaborations between the partner organisations involved.’ — Dr Ollie Douglas, President of the International Association of Agricultural Museums

The international journal Tools & Tillage is a great resource about historic farming techniques and traditional agricultural practices, combined with an (experimental) archaeological approach. Published over the years 1968-1995 it pulled together an impressive number of research projects from around the world, a remarkable effort in the days without internet.

As the number of people studying rural history increases, and museums continue to interpret meaning and method, several of us who work with agricultural museums, experimental archaeology, living history farms, and open-air museums decided to join forces to try and make Tools & Tillage more widely available.

As debates about environmental change gain intensity, and as agricultural practices factor significantly in these debates, the research published in Tools & Tillage seems more and more essential to our collective understanding. Yet, the journal is very hard to access. Three international organisations collaborated to increase access with the aim of engaging younger historians of rural and farm life with the essential knowledge and skills of agricultural techniques published over 27 years in Tools & Tillage.

We found an avid supporter in Dr. Grith Lerche, the only remaining editor of Tools & Tillage, and owner of the copyrights. She co-edited Tools & Tillage with Axel Steensberg and Alexander Fenton. Thanks to UNESCO-Welterbestätte Kloster Lorsch – Experimentalarchäologisches Freilichtlabor Lauresham (DE), the University Library of Heidelberg (DE) scanned the material and made it available, including a full text search of the 137 articles in 1,776 pages.

The full Journal is made available for dissemination and preservation of the electronic files under a (CC BY 4.0) license at:

This project of making Tools & Tillage available was possible thanks to the persistence and good cooperative spirit of many. The partners in this project are: