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Unearthing the Calverts: The Search for the State’s Seminal Documents

The story of how the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) acquired the papers of the state’s founding family is not well known. In fact it isn’t even a singular story. Simply preparing this piece about the collection unearthed a tale that highlights shaky provenance, the concept of authenticity in an archive, and the importance of institutional [...]

“The World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum:” Memorial Stadium, Part I

(This is the first part of a two part series. The second part will be posted in January, 2015.) Baltimore has been lucky enough to host two storied professional football teams: the-team-that-must-not-be-named, ahem, the Colts and the two-time Super Bowl Champions Baltimore Ravens. Not to mention the fantastic local college and high school teams. Marylanders [...]

Halcyon Days: Lauraville in the 1930s

Recent Saturday morning trips with my mother to Lauraville once again prompted interest in our family’s deep roots in the neighborhood and the lure of the area today. Library staff receives frequent calls and research requests on the subject and claim it is one of the city’s most popular communities. We grew up listening to [...]

The Burning of the Peggy Stewart

This Sunday, October 19, marks the 240th anniversary of the burning of the brig Peggy Stewart, or as the event came to be known, the Annapolis Tea Party.  It was a relatively minor event during the American Revolution. But, it was one that demonstrated the incendiary climate of Maryland and divided loyalties of the colonists [...]

“Are We Satisfied?”: The Baltimore Plan for School Desegregation

(This is the second part of a two part series – The first part of the story was posted on May 15, 2014 and can be read here.) Baltimoreans, perhaps more than the residents of any other major American city, were poised to meet the challenge of school desegregation. The city’s public school system had already grappled [...]

Beatlemania in Baltimore

As Baltimore celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner and the successful defense of Fort McHenry from invading British forces, there’s another British invasion worth remembering. It occurred fifty years ago and was of an entirely different sort. On September 13, 1964, The Beatles invaded Baltimore for a one-day stop during their first American tour. John, Paul, George, [...]

Head Cases: The Baltimore Phrenological Society

On February 17, 1827 an assemblage of distinguished minds from Baltimore’s medical community gathered at the home of Dr. Richard Sprigg Steuart for the inaugural meeting of a new scientific and medical organization. Among those present were Dr. William Donaldson, Sprigg’s medical partner; Dr. H.H. Hayden, dentist and future founder of Baltimore College of Dental Surgery; [...]

Baltimore and the Age of the Bicycle

The city of Baltimore grew up in the Age of the Bicycle. The introduction of the first precursor to the bicycle, the Draisine or hobby-horse of 1818, corresponds with Baltimore’s triumphant entry onto the national stage in the War of 1812. Baltimore, a mere village during the Revolutionary War, blossomed into America’s third greatest economic [...]

Up, up and away: Maryland’s First Birdmen

When the news broke of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s monumental flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903, it sparked the imaginations of inventors and daredevils across the country and kicked off one of the most important technological revolutions in recent history. Man had reached the skies before in hot air balloons, gliders, and dirigibles, [...]

Judge Simon Sobeloff – Moderate to the Extreme

In his home town of Baltimore Judge Simon Sobeloff (1894-1973) was known as a man of principle and conscience. Though a Republican himself, he had strong relationships with party members on each side of the aisle, including mayors Theodore McKeldin(R) and Thomas D’Alesandro Jr(D). As his grandson Michael S. Mayer put it, “[he believed that] [...]

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