The Historian

Longtime AMA employee — and unofficial archivist — John Bricker has spent years building, cataloging and organizing the AMA’s vast archive

Jan. 23, 2024 (Story from January issue of American Motorcyclist)

By Keaton Maisano

At first glance, the American Motorcyclist Association’s collection of history appears to be concentrated within the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, which showcases many significant motorcycles, relics and memorabilia.

However, those two floors of history pale in comparison to the 100 years of documents, magazines, photos, film, CDs, VHS tapes and more on the lower floor of the AMA headquarters office in Pickerington, Ohio, which is literally connected to that impressive museum via a walkway.

Archiving and organizing this vast collection of history has become the task of AMA Mailroom Manager John Bricker, who became an AMA employee in 1990 and who, with the advancement of technology over the years (and the subsequent decrease in physical mail), became the defacto historical caretaker of AMA history.

“I’ve always been a historian,” Bricker said. “I do a lot of my genealogy with my family, and I’m the co-founder of the Galena Historic Foundation in Galena, Ohio.”

Bricker has scanned decades of magazines, racing records, documents, photos and more to preserve the information stored within the walls of the AMA headquarters. In addition to digitizing the archives, he has spent his time organizing the physical copies of magazines, pins and other memorabilia.

“The AMA is the American Motorcyclist Association,” Bricker added. “It’s about people, and you find the people in the paperwork. I’m trying to preserve that.”

With a collection of different magazines such as Motorcycle Bicycle that dates to around 1910, the physical records of motorcyclists and the AMA can be traced back to before the AMA’s creation in 1924.

“I have come across paperwork with [AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer] Arthur Davidson mentioning the creation of the AMA,” Bricker said. “In one of them, I found what I believe to be the first mention of an AMA organization.”

Even after years of effort, Bricker estimated he is only 20 percent through the material. Despite the daunting task ahead of him, Bricker keeps chipping away. “People think there’s no way I’ll be able to scan it all,” he said, “but you just get started…one box, then a second box, and after a while, you’re like, ‘Hey, I’m halfway through this pile.’”

“There is so much rich history at the AMA, and so much potential if you just bring it out of the shadows,” Bricker continued.

Some of that rich history will end up on the pages of American Motorcyclist during the coming year as our 100th Anniversary celebration plays out. And Bricker will have had a serious hand in all of it. Thanks, J.B!

Preserving and promoting motorcycling’s rich history is the mission of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is funded by the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and it is through the generosity of donors that this effort is possible. Donations can be made by going to AmericanMotorcyclist.com/hall-of-fame.