A Star Spangled Year and You

Burt standing
From the desk of Burt Kummerow

May 30, 2013

Two hundred years ago, the war in the Chesapeake was making international news. Throughout 1813 and 1814, a British Fleet plundered and pillaged at will, terrorizing the entire region. Baltimore's Niles Weekly Register newspaper reported that "Great Britain made the shores of the Chesapeake, and of its tributary rivers, a general scene of ruin and distress."

In a few short weeks during the steamy, stormy summer of 1814, Washington, DC was burned, Ft. McHenry and Baltimore were heroically defended and our National Anthem was born. Only a handful of months in American or Maryland history have been filled with more dramatic and stirring events.

Schooner Patapsco M1986-88
Schooner Patapsco making escape, watercolor on paper, September 21, 1814, MdHS, M1986.88

Maryland has geared up for a memorable statewide commemoration of its critical role in the War of 1812, and the Maryland Historical Society is a primary player. Using our priceless collections of artifacts and documents, we have opened In Full Glory Reflected, the most comprehensive War of 1812 exhibit in the Old Line State. With our National Park Service and state partners, we have produced a lavishly illustrated, popular book with the same title that has just collected its third award.

Now we are entering a Star Spangled Year with a series of 1812 commemorative exhibits and programs that will again make international news. A beautiful exhibit dedicated to Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister-in-law and one of the most interesting of Baltimore's 19th century women, will open in June with a rousing "Bonaparte Ball."

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte - White Dress
Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte (1785-1879), François Josephe Kinsoen, circa 1817, Maryland Historical Society, Gift of Mrs. Charles Joseph Bonaparte, xx.5.72

On July 4, a host of skilled volunteers will begin a six-week labor of love to reconstruct an accurate, full-scale replica of the Star Spangled Banner Flag. We will be commemorating Mary Pickersgill's work on the original 200 years ago this summer. The completed flag will fly first at Ft. McHenry this Defenders Day in September and then play an important role in all of the upcoming bicentennial events.

Our iconic original copy of the Star Spangled Banner song, penned in Francis Scott Key's own hand, will be traveling from Baltimore to the two other points of a triangle that define Key's life and work. This June, the document will travel to Frederick, Mr. Key's hometown and final resting place. Next June, it will travel to Washington where Key worked for decades as a successful lawyer. The manuscript will be joined for the first time with its recently restored namesake now impressively displayed at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

Beyond a single Star Spangled Year, all of us will be looking forward to the culmination of Maryland's 1812 Bicentennial in September, 2014. Another unforgettable "Sailabration," commemorating the 1814 Battle of Baltimore, will again fill the Inner Harbor. The Maryland Historical Society will cap off the Bicentennial with a computer generated recreation of a bustling 1814 Baltimore, a special military exhibit and an October "Victory Party," honoring the first public performance of the Star Spangled Banner in Baltimore.

How can you participate in the Maryland Historical Society's Star Spangled Year?

So what can you do to be involved in our Star Spangled Year? How can you make our Bicentennial milestones as unforgettable as possible, and ensure that our historical legacy - our collective memory - remains alive for generations to come?

There is one thing you can do, right now: become a member of our Maryland Historical Society. Membership is the most basic and most important form of contribution; it is the cornerstone of all our programs, exhibitions, and publications. Membership provides us with the resources needed to be certain that future generations understand our state's past and have access to the artifacts and documents that connect them to that history, while granting you a front row seat for all the exciting programs and exhibitions we're working on right now.

Memberships make up more than one-third of our entire budget, so the more we receive, the more we can give in preservation and programming.

In honor of our Bicentennial celebration, we have created a brand-new, top-tier level of membership. We are calling these special patrons our Star Spangled Banner Circle. In exchange for $1,000 of your support, members of this exclusive group will receive:

In Full Glory Reflected Book

Star Spangled Banner Circle

*A copy of our informative and beautiful, 256 page book, In Full Glory Reflected, at no additional cost
*Invitations to lectures and special receptions at the Smithsonian, the Society and other bicentennial sites,
*Behind the scenes tours of exhibits and collections and
*Guided tours on the Star Spangled Banner Trail
*All of the benefits of our regular membership levels, including discounts at our Museum Store, free admission to our Museum and H. Furlong Baldwin Library, and much more

You will be invited as well to add a stitch or two to our recreated Star Spangled Banner Flag and help us make history!

Of course, we also have all of our regular levels of membership, from Student all the way to Family patrons. A few of the benefits of membership include:

Membership To The Maryland Historical Society

**Unlimited free admission to the museum and library, and reduced or free admission to public events
**A special, 35% members-only discount on MdHS Press Publications
**A 10% discount at our Museum Store
**Advance notice of MdHS programs and exhibitions
**A new, print subscription to the Maryland Historical Magazine, our quarterly academic journal. New research and discoveries constantly change our understanding of Maryland's past. The magazine brings these developments in scholarship into the homes of our members

We have different levels of membership to suit all budgets, and best of all, your contribution is 100% tax-deductible. You can even give the gift of membership to a friend or family member - it makes the perfect birthday gift! Click here to find out more about our membership levels, or to renew your existing membership, and learn more about how you can contribute.

And I extend a personal invitation to bring your family to our Maryland Historical Society to participate in the very special events of our Star Spangled Year. We are located at 201 W. Monument St., right in the heart of Baltimore's historic Mt. Vernon District. You will find beautiful objects, amazing documents and unforgettable stories.

Burt Sig 2
Burton Kummerow
President, The Maryland Historical Society

Join us for this once in a lifetime Star Spangled Year! 

Founded in 1844, The Maryland Historical Society Museum and Library occupies an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore. The society's mission is to "collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland's diverse cultural heritage." The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled "Maryland Historical Magazine."

The Society is located at 201 W. Monument Street and open to the public Wednesday-Saturday
from 10 am-5 pm,
and Sunday (museum only) 12 pm-5pm.