Oral History

This category contains 9 posts

“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 [...]

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] [...]

A Thorny Path: School Desegregation in Baltimore

May 17, 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education. Activism in Baltimore and throughout the state of Maryland had been building toward a case for integrated public education for many years prior to the decision. Maryland has almost always occupied an ambivalent position on racial matters. [...]

“Is He White or Colored?”: Chinese in Baltimore City Public Schools

The story of race in Baltimore has traditionally been presented as a black and white issue. Particularly in discussions about the Civil Rights Era, the focus has been on the interaction between these two racial groups, with Jewish residents representing an ethnic middle ground between them. In researching this pivotal time period in the city’s [...]

The Gypsy Queen of Baltimore*

  In 1904, Baltimore was buzzing with scandal – Jessie Key Habersham had disappeared again. This was not the first time that Habersham, the daughter of a Baltimore canned goods broker, had gone missing. The young debutante had once escaped to Europe for several months with family friends, before her father convinced her to return [...]

Sitting on Top of the World

When one thinks of arctic exploration, the state of Maryland does not immediately come to mind. But Maryland’s connection to the history of polar exploration is more than tenuous, as two of its native sons occupy prominent places on the list of travelers to the northernmost point of the earth. When Baltimorean Herbert Frisby flew [...]

An American Tragedy

Many who devote their lives to bringing about social change can recall a single incident or episode that altered their perceptions and determined their path in life. Civil rights activist Rosa Parks recalls that one of the first ways she realized the difference between “a black world and a white world” was when, as a [...]

Maryland Ahead by (Clarence) Miles

After Clarence Miles died on October 8, 1977, the Baltimore Sun described him as “an urbane man who never forgot the value of good common sense. And he applied both traits with rich results for the city and the state.”[1]Miles has long been an overlooked figure in Maryland history, primarily overshadowed by the passage of [...]

Collision – People and Events that Shaped the Vietnam era in Maryland

Welcome to the inaugural post of what will be a monthly series highlighting interviews and other recorded materials from the Maryland Historical Society’s collection of over 1200 oral histories. The collection ranges from interviews with Maryland politicians such as Theodore R. McKeldin, mayor of Baltimore (1943-1947, 1963-1967) and governor of Maryland (1951-1959), to interviews with [...]