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Mysteries from the underbelly

This category contains 6 posts

Baltimore bands in the ’90s: more Joe Kohl photo mysteries

MdHS needs your help identifying bands, people, dates, and places from the Baltimore music scene of the late 1980s and ’90s in the photos below. Please help if you can.   I’ve been preparing to process the Joseph Kohl photograph collection for a while now. Because the collection is so modern—our third most modern by [...]

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 [...]

Leaving no Stones Unturned: Charles Carroll of Carrollton’s Declarations of Independence

Yes, declarations is plural in the title of this week’s post. The story that follows is another fun example of how we learn more about our collections, the expected and the unexpected. The subject of this puzzle first hit our “to do” list several months ago when identifying library treasures to rotate into MdHS’s “Inventing [...]

A Mystery Admirer

In this Valentine’s Day poem, Cupid  promises the holiday’s namesake patron, St. Valentine, that he will search high and low for a most worthy maid to strike with his arrows of love. He comes upon Baltimore City, “Which though for a City ‘tis somewhat slow…Is renowned for its maidens fair,” where he discovers the incomparable Nannie [...]

The Dreams of Benjamin Banneker

Over the 200 years since the death of Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806), his story has become a muddled combination of fact, inference, misinformation, hyperbole, and legend. Like many other figures throughout history, the small amount of surviving source material has nurtured the development of a degree of mythology surrounding his story. While myths make for great [...]

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 [...]

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