mdhslibrary

mdhslibrary has written 38 posts for underbelly

The Quasi-War (1798-1801): Diplomatic Treasures from a Long Forgotten Dispute

MdHS cataloger Kristi Thomas recently pulled together all of the institution’s holdings on the French Spoliation Claims, a little-known group of pamphlets and documents on a long-forgotten episode during which thousands of citizens sought compensation from the federal government for ships and cargoes captured and destroyed during the Quasi-War with France, 1797–1801. This international drama offers [...]

Your Baltimore Canaries: a very brief history of Baltimore’s second professional base ball team

Look up, Baltimore baseball fans! You’ve come a long way. The origin of baseball in Baltimore is a ridiculously complicated affair. Scant photographic evidence remains and accounts in newspapers, which used nicknames for teams and players as often as they did proper names, leave behind a murky, hard-to-follow record. By the 1870s there were already a [...]

A Whale of a Tale: the Mysterious Case of the Tolchester Whale*

  It’s hard to work at the Maryland Historical Society and not be familiar with the R.H. Eichner & Company color lithograph entitled “Go See the Whale at Tolchester, 1889.” An original of this iconic print lives in our library, and posters depicting it grace the halls of the Education Department and the offices on the [...]

Lost City: The Sulzebacher House

West Baltimore was once a densely packed, vibrant neighborhood full of theaters, local businesses, and industry. Drive down many of the streets today and you’re likely to see a vacant lot or a boarded up row house on nearly every other block. But even an empty field has a history. The tiny, off-kilter house pictured [...]

Antoinette in the Air: Hubert Latham and His Historic Flight Over Baltimore, 1910

Hubert Latham was almost the first person to fly an airplane over the British Channel. If the French aviator and adventurer was discouraged when his first attempt came up short, he never showed it. As he bobbed in the waves waiting to be retrieved by a passing vessel, Latham casually smoked a cigarette in the cockpit [...]

Paul Henderson Collection: Who or Where?

The Paul Henderson Photograph Collection contains over 6,000 photographs of mostly unidentified African Americans from ca. 1935-1965. When the Paul Henderson: Baltimore’s Civil Rights Era in Photographs, ca. 1940-1960 exhibition opened in 2012, several people from the media asked why it was important for MdHS to identify the people Henderson photographed in and around Baltimore. If you’ve ever [...]

A Short History of Hoes Heights

Ever wonder about Hoes Heights? The hidden and oft-overlooked north Baltimore neighborhood of Hoes Heights bears the name of Grandison Hoe, a freed slave in Antebellum Baltimore who once owned and operated a farm on the location. Nestled between its more renowned neighbors—Hampden to the south and Roland Park to the north— this neighborhood remained [...]

“Facing the Masks”: Masked Mystery Solved

Last week we reached out for help understanding a photograph, and wow, did we get it. Our photo from the Hughes Company collection traveled far and wide. The image, known then as “Detective room, Police Department,” was not only a headscratcher, but also a Rorschach Test of sorts. Different eyes saw different things happening. Speculations, observations, [...]

Down with Love: A Brief History of the Vinegar Valentine

While rummaging through our Valentine’s Day card collection in a search for long forgotten declarations of love and fidelity, an interesting style of valentine came to light. Among the lacy, pastel-toned confections, we discovered a group of amusing but mean-spirited notes, known as vinegar valentines. Jokesters during the Victorian era sent these less-than-loving valentines to [...]

Valentine’s is coming…

… to underbelly this Thursday. Guest-blogger Lara Westwood gets down with love in a look at the history of the Vinegar Valentine: