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Then and Now: The Maryland Historical Society

The month of October is known for two holidays—Halloween and Columbus Day, as well the 31-day celebration that is National Pork Month. But few outside the archival profession (and probably few within it as well) know that October is also American Archives Month. In commemoration of Archives Month, first celebrated in 1969, here are a few “then and now” images of the archives and library of the Maryland Historical Society.

This is the first post of a series that will show images of buildings, street scenes, and other locales from the Maryland Historical Society’s collection of more than 1,000,000 photographs, alongside photographs of how they appear today.

The following two photographs show the main reading room of the library as it looked in 1920, two years after MdHS moved from its former location in the Athenaeum building (no longer in existence) on St. Paul Street, and in 2012.

Maryland Historical Society, Library Reading Room looking East, June 1920, vertical file, Maryland Historical Society.

Maryland Historical Society, library reading room looking east, October 2012, Photograph by Damon Talbot.

The basement storage area located underneath the main reading room is where many of the library’s collections are housed. What staff members today refer to as “the belly,” has seen its share of interns scream in fear, as staff, having forgotten about the intern supposedly hard at work down below, locked the gates and shut the lights off. The photograph below shows the room as it appeared in 1920.

Maryland Historical Society, Keyser Memorial Building, (East section of large vault under the reading room), June 1920, vertical file, Maryland Historical Society.

The last three images are of the library’s east room, which today houses the microfilm collection, genealogical volumes, and other resources. It has also been used as a museum gallery and a rare book room. (Damon Talbot)

Maryland Historical Society, Gallery, ca 1920, vertical file, Maryland Historical Society.

Maryland Historical Society, Rare Book Room, 1969, vertical file, Maryland Historical Society.

Maryland Historical Society, East room, October 2012, photograph by Damon Talbot.


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