Joe Tropea

This tag is associated with 20 posts

The Death of Topsy: a book review

Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked-Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison. Atlantic Monthly Press, 369 pages, $27.                                       If there’s one thing you can say/About Mankind/There’s nothing kind about man — Tom Waits [...]

Then and Now: The Owl Bar

The Owl Bar has long been a favorite after-work drinking spot for MdHS staffers. A decent beer selection, cheap happy hour specials, and some of the best brick oven pizza in town are only part of the draw though. The bar, tucked in the back of the Belvedere Hotel, has a certain ambience to which [...]

Everyday People: Paul Henderson Collection Goes to City Hall

  It’s been a crazy couple of weeks here in the Imaging Services Department at MdHS. Through some wild confluence of ambition and scheduling, I agreed to curate and deliver a 48-piece photography exhibition the very week of the debut of my new documentary, HIT & STAY, at the Maryland Film Festival. I can’t really [...]

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 [...]

“Facing the Masks”: Masked Mystery Solved

  Last week we reached out for help toward 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 sets of eyes saw different [...]

Masked Mystery

Last month we solved a longstanding photograph mystery that we never expected to solve, that is until we rolled up our sleeves and actually tried. Modern digitization technology, more precisely the ability to zoom deep into a photo or negative to see details previously unavailable to the naked eye, coupled with searchable newspaper databases make solving [...]

The Death of Sport

Among the many mysterious photographs in MdHS’s collections, two of an elephant stand out as particularly unsettling. Buried in the Subject Vertical File, an artificial collection that was compiled throughout the years, in the Photographs and Prints room is a folder labeled “Animals–Elephant–1898–Hanging.” In this folder rests two tattered and faded turn-of-the-century prints of an [...]

Election Recollection: All Politics is Weird

This week, with the final Obama-Romney debate bearing down on us, we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the more bizarre political and election-related items in our holdings. In doing so we set our sights on Maryland’s own Spiro Agnew, the Nixon administration, and the many products Agnew’s likeness [...]

Election Recollection: Albert C. Ritchie, 1932

Gov. Ritchie runs for President, again, or the highs and lows of electoral politics. Eighty years before Governor Martin O’Malley was attending conventions, enjoying the national spotlight, and entertaining thoughts of a presidential run, another Democratic governor from Maryland was poised to make a run at the presidency. Albert Cabell Ritchie (1836-1936) ran the state for 15 [...]

Election Recollection: Albert C. Ritchie, 1928

Gov. Ritchie runs for President. “Election Recollection” is a series we’ll run from now through January’s Presidential inauguration (or so). Here we’ll feature political/election-related items from MdHS’s  photograph, manuscript, and ephemera holdings. This first installment takes us back to the Roaring Twenties, a time when Marylanders were, for the most part, as committed to state’s rights [...]

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