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Damon Talbot

This tag is associated with 27 posts

The Oldest Known Photographs of Ellicott City

Institutional memory is a vital component of any organization. Today, with increasing turnover rates and the decreasing probability of employees remaining with one employer for the duration of their working career, that memory is a dwindling resource. In an archive, where an in depth knowledge of objects that may number into the millions can only [...]

The Chocolate Dandies: Blake and Sissle’s other Musical

On April 28 of this year, Baltimore born ragtime and jazz pianist and composer Eubie Blake and his partner Noble Sissles’ most famous work, Shuffle Along, will open on Broadway, nearly 100 years after its initial run. In 1921, Shuffle Along transformed Broadway and left a far reaching cultural and social legacy. But the pair also produced [...]

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 [...]

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; [...]

Propaganda in the Free State: MdHS’s Collection of Poster Art

Before the advent of the internet, one of the simplest and most effective ways of getting the word out to people about a local festival, a concert, or a political message was by slapping a poster on a wall, storefront window, or telephone pole. Just recently, library staff completed an inventory of the over 1,300 [...]

The Great Fight

Although it’s rare, a sporting event can sometimes transcend its role as pure competition and entertainment. Boxing in particular seems especially suited to seeing its participants elevated to more than mere sportsmen. Rather than just two men trying to knock each other unconscious, the combatants become symbolic representatives of larger social, cultural, or political forces. [...]

“The Most Spectacular Print of Baltimore Ever Made”

Working at the Maryland Historical Society, you get to see some pretty amazing things on a daily basis. From Francis Scott Key’s original draft of the Star Spangled Banner, early copies of the Declaration of Independence, and some of the first daguerreotypes of Baltimore harbor, to more recent gems like Eubie Blake’s collection of sheet [...]

“Home-made wines made of dandelions”: Prohibition in Maryland

This Saturday night, the Young Defenders of the Maryland Historical Society will be hosting its second annual Bootlegger’s Bash party at the 1840s Plaza at 29 S. Front Street, the site of the old Peale Museum. In anticipation of this popular fundraiser we have decided to share a selection of photographs, documents, and ephemera of [...]

Scenes from the ’70s: The East Baltimore Documentary Photography Project

In 1976, Maryland Institute College of Art photography professor Linda G. Rich, and two of her students, Joan Clark Netherwood and Elinor B. Cahn, began work on a project documenting the large swath of neighborhoods collectively known as East Baltimore. What was intended to be merely a project for Rich’s class on social documentary photography, [...]

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