Maryland in Focus: Introduction


Maryland in Focus:

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Maryland Historical Society
Library of Maryland History
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Baltimore, MD 21201
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Exhibit curated and text written by Mary Markey
access jpg image
Water Street, c 1875

Photographer unknown

MHS Library, Special Collections Department

Who takes the photographs in your family? Who keeps them? Are they carefully arranged in albums or packed away in shoeboxes? Eventually each of us becomes the curator of a collection of photographs that document our life. The Maryland Historical Society has a photograph collection numbering around 400,000 images spanning the earliest years of photography to the present day. How do you choose forty photographs to display from among 400,000?

This was the task the Maryland Historical Society staff faced in creating this exhibit. We knew that we wanted these panels to display Maryland’s:

People—showing a range of time periods, ages, social status, and ethnic groups;
Places—showcasing the beauty and variety of “America in Miniature” over the years;
Events—documenting our state’s role in the events that shaped our nation, as well as the universal experiences of everyday life.

The wealth of material available posed the problem of what to leave out, not what to include. One image might be interesting historically, but not visually; another both beautiful and interesting—but how many photos of trains or children or bodies of water did we really need?

This exhibition is the end result. These are not necessarily the Maryland Historical Society’s forty best photographs, or forty most historically important, or forty most popular. This exhibition does include forty excellent photographs that we hope will interest, educate, and entertain you.

Photographs are the next best thing to a time machine. Look closely at them; there’s more than first meets the eye.  They bring Maryland in focus.

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Exhibit CONTENTS: Lists all the images in the Exhibit

From the Studio to the Great Outdoors
Photograph as Fine Art
Photograph as Historical Document

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