Partners In Maryland History

Partners in Maryland History

From the desk of
Burt Kummerow

Volume 2 Issue 4 
April 3, 2013

During the recent downturn in the U.S. economy, museums have been engaging in a sea change. As never before, they have been looking to each other for economies, other ideas to weather the non-profit and public sector storm and future sustainability. It has been a breath of fresh air as our ranks have discovered that working together gives each of us new life, new ideas and new strength. Dipping into American history, we are all reminded of Benjamin Franklin's comment to 13 quarreling colonies on the eve of revolution; "Join or die."

Washington, Lafayette, and Tilghman at Yorktown, Charles Wilson Peale, 1784, MSA SC, 1545-1120
Our partnerships are thriving in this new environment. The Maryland Historical Society has been reaching out to old and new friends among our Baltimore neighbors and beyond to the far sectors of the Old Line State. One of the best examples is our long and close relationship with the Maryland State Archives. The Archives, keeper of the priceless art collection in the Maryland Statehouse, has loaned us the "Washington at Yorktown" masterpiece that has been in the state capitol since 1784.

Now that the new restoration of the historic statehouse is moving ahead, the portrait will be going back to Annapolis this Spring. This is your last chance to see General Washington with General Lafayette and his aide-de camp, Lt. Col. Tench Tilghman, close up in our "Inventing a Nation" Gallery.

Other partnerships are moving in all directions. We are working with the Greater Baltimore History Alliance and local art museums to welcome 6,000 museum professionals and the American Alliance of Museums to the Monumental City in May. Joining the Maryland State Department of Education at the 2013 General Assembly budget hearings, we are increasing our funding to reach out to the Baltimore School for the Arts, all 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City with our popular education programs.

The War of 1812 Bicentennial has brought alliances with the Maryland Commission, the Baltimore National Heritage Area, Ft. McHenry and the Flag House to commemorate events so important to the history of the city and state. These alliances have led to a series of programs including planned visits of the Star Spangled Banner manuscript to Frederick and the National Museum of American History this year and next, respectively, an accurate reconstruction of the Star Spangled Banner Flag this summer (come add a stitch!) and a computer generated recreation of 1814 Baltimore with the groundbreaking Imaging Research Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. One of the most fascinating stories from the 1812 era will be told in the Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte exhibit opening with a lavish Bonaparte Ball on June 8.

As we plan our future after the anniversaries in 2015, we are looking to other new relationships that will spread our passion for Maryland history. In Baltimore, we are helping our neighbors energize the Mount Vernon Cultural District, one of the arts, history and cultural jewels among all American cities. We also have reached out to Historic St. Mary's City, Maryland's first capital and one of America's premier archaeological sites, to revive Maryland Day, an almost century old state holiday devoted to the arrival of Spring and the first settlers in 1634.

"Oh say can you see," there is never a dull moment in Maryland history or at its most important source, the 169-year-old Maryland Historical Society. We want to partner with you as we take our dramatic past into a rewarding future for all of our partners statewide.

A Special Invitation:
Help Us Identify Paul Henderson's Photographs of the African-American Community in Maryland, ca. 1935-1965

Unidentified and Untitled
"Unidentified and untitled," Paul Henderson, Maryland Historical Society, HEN.01.09-23.

On Sunday, April 7 at 2 pm, you're invited to take part in "Revisiting Our Past: Identifying Paul Henderson's Photographs of the African-American Community in Maryland, ca. 1935-1965."

There are over 6,000 photographs in the Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, many of which are still unidentified. So we need your help to collect names of individuals and memories from this era.

We encourage you to invite your friends, neighbors, and relatives to this afternoon of reminiscence. You never know, you could see your friends from high school, your parents when they were young, and famous Marylanders (we recently identified Thurgood Marshall in one photo!)

For our April 7 event, Paul Henderson's entire collection has been printed as reference photos and placed in three-ring notebooks that will be presented along with identification forms. Those in attendance will be attempting to identify thousands of unidentified faces and places in Henderson's photos. Light refreshments will be served.

This event is sponsored in part by the Pierians Incorporated, Baltimore Chapter, who approached MdHS's Special Collections department with the idea for the event. Student facilitators from the history departments of University of Maryland Baltimore County, Johns Hopkins University, Towson University, Morgan State University, and Sojourner-Douglass College will be on hand to facilitate this history-recording event.

Paul Henderson (1899-1988) was an African-American photographer who worked in Baltimore from the 1930s to 1960s. Most of his career was spent at the Afro-American newspaper where he documented significant events and everyday life in Baltimore's African-American communities, leaving behind a collection of over 6,000 photographs.

The exhibit, Paul Henderson: Baltimore's Civil Rights Era in Photographs, ca. 1940-1960 has been on display in the Hackerman gallery since February 2012. A selection of Henderson photos will be installed in Baltimore's City Hall this May.

Space is limited; please RSVP as soon as possible to or call: 410-685-3750 x377. See you there!

"Behind the Scenes of the 'Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte and Her Quest for an Imperial Legacy' Exhibit"

By Alexandra Deutsch, Chief Curator
Exhibition Designer Chuck Mack
Exhibition Designer, Chuck Mack, looks at paint samples and compares them to interiors from the Napoleonic-era.
Now that spring is here, preparations for the opening of  'Woman of Two Worlds:' Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte and Her Quest for an Imperial Legacy are moving at a rapid pace!

The exhibition opening is less than three months away and we are all running in high gear. Everyday "behind the scenes" is filled with research and planning for the installation. Here is a glimpse of what is in the works to make Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte's amazing story come to life.

We all know how difficult it is to find the perfect colors for our homes, but selecting the "right" color for an exhibition requires even greater thought. Exhibitions Designer, Chuck Mack, and I spent many hours looking at popular interior colors used during Elizabeth's lifetime and narrowed the color selections down to several greens, lavenders and blues.

Although we are not going to reveal the final selection, suffice it to say we were all surprised by the color that looked best in the gallery and complimented with the objects in the exhibition the most. Elizabeth's account books note that she favored yellow and believed it flattered her coloring. As a nod to this, hints of yellow will dot the graphics throughout the gallery.

Transcribing Elizabeth's Letters
In the image to the left, Curatorial Volunteers Barbara Meger and Julie Madden study and transcribe Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte's letters, ephemera and account books in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library.

Both Meger and Madden possess expertise in textiles and costume history, making them ideal researchers for this project.

Although Elizabeth maintained a frugal household, she was not above buying many shoes.

Elizabeth's Account Book
Account Book and Diary of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society, MS 142, Box 13A.
Meger discovered this fact while combing through Elizabeth's diaries and account books.

Working with the Bonaparte Papers in the library yields a seemingly unending font of information about Elizabeth's life.

To the right, Elizabeth records information about some of her jewelry, in particular a pair of amethyst and pearl earrings "sett in England in year 1805..."

Click on the link to see as Colleen Callahan of Costume and Textile Specialists fits a reproduction of Elizabeth's mother, Dorcas Spear Patterson's gown on a form. This reproduction was then sent overnight mail to StudioEis in Brooklyn, New York where they carved the body for Dorcas's mannequin.

We measured Dorcas' original gown to determine just how small the mannequin's torso needs to be.

Dorcas' Shoulders
Dorcas was remarkably petite. Measuring from shoulder to shoulder, she was only
9 ¼" wide!

Colleen and I checked the waist measurement, too, and determined that Dorcas had an admirable 21" to 22" waistline during her early life.

Sculptor David Hayes
Sculptor David Hayes
At right, Sculptor David Hayes of StudioEis, used the muslin and mock-up dress form to carve Dorcas's torso to its minute proportions.

David is making final adjustments before the mannequin goes to casting.

A sculpture of Dorcas Spear Patterson's face is seen below before its final revisions.

After comparing it to the portrait of Dorcas by Robert Edge Pine, the chin was narrowed and the nose was lengthened slightly. The sculpture is now going into its final casting.


Exhibition Designer Chuck Mack works closely with me and Heather Haggstrom, Exhibitions Manager, to plan out the layout of the exhibition cases. Here he is seen with some of the silver that will be on view in the exhibition.

The silver is laid out on a paper template that represents the dimensions of the case. Careful consideration is given to the history of each object before it is positioned in the case. This process is repeated for every case in the installation.

The resulting template will be used to design the exhibition case and the mounts for the paintings. This collection of miniatures, all portraits of the Bonaparte family, includes Napoleon and Prince Jerome (Elizabeth's husband).

Below is a group of accessories being considered for one of the textile cases.

This grouping of textiles were laid out and considered for the installation. Textiles can only remain on view for brief periods because light exposure is detrimental to their condition. As a result, we must plan to rotate textiles throughout the life of the exhibition.

Thankfully, many of Elizabeth's accessories from lace gloves to shawls survive.

More behind the scenes activities are going on, but you'll have to read our next post to learn more about that! We'll be giving you a glimpse of the various conservators hard at work preparing paintings, silver, and other objects for the installation.


"Torn Asunder:" The Trauma of a Divided State during the Civil War and the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation - Come to Dramatic Life

Binary Map
Acting students Rachel Hilsen and Madeline Fishburne participating in an improv activity.
Freedom, slavery, divided families and divided loyalties amid the tragedy of a Civil War are dramatically brought into focus with the special theatrical presentation of "Torn Asunder: The Civil War Midstream."

The production showcases four scenes that illustrate the human side of the conflict. It's a collaborative effort between the Baltimore School for the Arts, Maryland Historical Society and National Park Service.

Students and faculty from Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA) worked together to develop scripts and produce the performances. The students also conducted research at the MdHS library.

"Students engaged in the historian's craft and were immersed in the world of the 1860s by closely analyzing personal letters, and other materials from MdHS's archives," says Director of Education, Kristin Schenning.

The production includes four original scenes that illustrate the complexity of race relations during the Civil War:

"Caught in Between:" When a young abolitionist girl visiting her sister (the overseer's wife) teaches an enslaved boy to read, severe punishment ensues and the reputations of all are at stake.

"Mothers:" Two African-American mothers fear that their sons may wind up on opposing ends of the conflict when one son is forced to become a servant to a Confederate officer and another contemplates joining the Union Army.

"Crossed Paths:" A fugitive slave and Confederate deserter make an uneasy alliance as they both seek their own version of freedom.

"World Undone:" Inspired by an actual occurrence on the Hampton estate, when an assertive former slave arrives on the estate to claim clothing given to her by her free husband, the white mistress, her daughter, and an enslaved domestic servant have something to say about it.

"This production takes the classroom outside of the classroom - the public is in for a real treat," says Chief of Interpretation Vincent Vaise.

The public performances will be held on April 27, 2pm at Hampton National Historic Site, a former slave plantation in Baltimore County, and on May 3, 6pm at the Maryland Historical Society. The performances last approximately one hour. This production is free of charge as part of National Parks Week and is supported by a grant from Wells Fargo.

To register for the performance at MdHS, click here or call 410-685-3750 ext. 377.

Coming Soon! A 3D Map of 1812 Baltimore

By David Belew, Development Coordinator
The Battle of Baltimore was a flurry of activity with mortars soaring through the air and people running through the streets. Our forebears did not have the cameras we take for granted today, so to get a feel for the action we must sort through the paintings, maps, writings, and artifacts left behind.

Our exhibition In Full Glory Reflected: Maryland during the War of 1812 weaves together these remnants to communicate the kinetic energy of the era, but recent advancements in the fields of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and 3D imaging are adding another tool to the history museum's toolbox.

Binary Map
Code overlayed on Plan of the City and Environs of Baltimore, 1801.
Using data culled from the maps, surveys, and blueprints of the time, specialists can render incredibly accurate digital models of past cityscapes and the conflicts that defined them. With the right storytelling and interpretation, these models make for an engaging and informative museum exhibition. They're also valuable research tools, as scholars can lay out definitive moments in history and illustrators can more accurately depict lost landscapes.

In collaboration with UMBC's Imaging Resource Center and historians Lance Humphries and Mary Ellen Hayward, MdHS is making just such a model of Baltimore circa 1812. The Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education at UMBC has already created the foundation. Researchers and designers led by faculty member Joshua Cole used topographical maps from the 1860s and 90s to craft the late 18th century terrain of the metro Baltimore area, approximately 100 square miles spanning from North Point to the Patapsco River. Creating a digital elevation model of pre-urbanized Baltimore was a meticulous process. Every hill, stream, and valley must be entered in by hand. Further sources were referenced to remove development's alterations to the landscape and account for the harbor's ever-shifting shoreline.

An ongoing dialogue between historians and designers was key to this process. The next phase requires even greater communication! Modern Sprawl-timore encompasses 100 square miles, but 1812 was a denser time. Most of city life was confined to a small area around Jonestown, Fells Point, and the Inner Harbor. Now MdHS is working with Dan Bailey and the rest of the IRC to render this area in greater detail. Sourcing everything from old fire insurance records to city ordinances on cobblestones, we're bringing 1812 Baltimore to life.

Even when not under siege, early 19th century Baltimore was a chaotic place to be. Ships constantly pulled in and out of port and the sights and sounds of construction dominated the streets as developers rushed to house, entertain, and profit from a booming population. The rising façade of the Basilica was a prominent landmark, though it would not be completed for nearly a decade. Our map will depict the city just before the outbreak of the Battle of Baltimore and link the landmarks with the people who made them famous. We hope that 'standing' a bit in Mary Pickersgill's shoes and looking at the brewery where she sewed her flag will give our visitors a feel for the era in all its depth, color, and dirty glory. Rest assured that we will not be recreating the smells of Baltimore circa 1812!

Other April 2013 Events:
"Richard Caton Woodville:
Baltimore's Genius of the 19th Century"

Thomas Edmondson Portait
"Thomas Edmondson," Richard Caton Woodville, 1845, Maryland Historical Society, 1984-6
On Thursday, April 4 at 6pm, join us for a special discussion presented by Joy Peterson Heyrman, Deputy Director for Development and exhibition curator of New Eyes on America: The Genius of Richard Caton Woodville, The Walters Art Museum.

Baltimore-born and European-trained Woodville (1825-55) depicted hot-button issues in 1840's American society, including war, the politics of Manifest Destiny and new technologies such as the telegraph.

"While part of a vibrant artistic community in Dusseldorf (Germany), Woodville observed the democratic rebellions of late 1840s Europe," said Heyrman. "Woodville reacted to this environment, creating some of his most iconic works, including Politics in an Oyster House (1848) and War News from Mexico (1848)."

This event is part of the Francis Scott Key Lecture Series. Tickets are $40 per lecture, or $175 for the complete Francis Scott Key Lecture series (couples series for $300). See our website for more information and to register. Call 410-685-3750 Ext. 399 for details.

Beyond Brick and Mortar:
Discovering Baltimore's Architectural Heritage

Furlong Library
H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society
On Saturday, April 20th at 9 am, celebrate American Library Week at MdHS! Do you live or work in Baltimore? Interested in the buildings of the city? Visit the Maryland Historical Society and learn how to fully utilize the library's resources.

Senior Reference Librarian, Francis O'Neill, will walk participants through search strategies and introduce the Passano file - the richest resource for Baltimore structures in the city! Then, Special Collections Librarian, Eben Dennis, will provide tips on how to find the needle in the haystack.

See if we can find an original photograph of your building or block from the 900,000+ photographs in our collection! Light refreshments will be provided.

This program is free for members; $10 for nonmembers. To register, visit our website or call 410-685-3750 Ext. 377.

Call For Submissions!
Your Best Museum-Going Experience:
In Six Words or Less

Thomas Edmondson Portait
As I mentioned in our January issue, The American Alliance for Museums is welcoming over 6,000 museum professionals to its annual conference at Baltimore's Convention Center in May.

And to get ready for this esteemed event, our friends at the American Alliance for Museums (AAM) are asking all of the area's history and arts destinations to participate in a special initiative called "The Six Word Project."

This special project is putting together a visual display of Baltimore's most unforgettable museum going experiences, told by you, the visitor - in 6 words or less.

Why just six words?

Legend has it that someone bet famed American writer Ernest Hemingway that he could not make up a whole new story using just six words. Hemingway shot back:

"For Sale: baby shoes, never worn." Some say Hemingway then proclaimed it his best work.

Check out some of the wonderful six-word story submissions AAM has received to date:

"The zoo through grandchildren's eyes - magical!" - Senator Ben Cardin

"Louvre Paris Mona Lisa really exists" - Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

"Tear Gas National Gallery Mayday 1971" - Roland Woodward, Baltimore Museum of Industry

"Zoo glass. Me/Gorilla. Touching palms." - Athena Hoffberger

"disappearing into a stranger's visual creation" - Ted Frankel

The American Alliance for Museums will hang each of these stories on a glittering gold card at the entrance of the Convention Center to celebrate the start of the Conference. You will definitely want to check it out. So put on your thinking caps and send in your best 6-word story as soon as you can!

Like 'History Alive?' Share it With a Friend!

I hope you're enjoying our monthly History Alive! E-newsletter. If you have a friend or family member who might enjoy receiving up-to-the-minute news and information about our events and exhibitions (and, of course, our trivia questions), simply send them this link:

And they can sign up!

Speaking of Trivia...

Trivia Time!

Congratulations to everyone who correctly answered last month's question! Jonathan Hager decided to make a home for himself in Western Maryland when it was still wild frontier. Within three years of stepping on American soil, he was building a homestead on top of a cool Maryland spring.

The house soon led to a trading post and by the 1770's, what was once untamed frontier was a bustling town with more than a hundred dwellings. When he wasn't founding towns, Hager was serving the Colony of Maryland, earlier in life as scout-captain in the French-Indian War and later as a delegate to the General Assembly.

Ready for this month's question?

Situated on the Chesapeake Bay, this marshy land has seen its fair share of Maryland happenings. Archaeological findings indicate a human presence in the area dating back 9,000 years! In more recent centuries, Maryland colonists began farming there around 350 years ago. During the War of 1812, it was an important route for British invaders on their way to Baltimore. In the 20th century, the grounds held a popular amusement park built in the Edwardian style. Complete with a dancehall, bowling alley, pier, and assortment of rides, the park entertained thousands of visitors every summer! The amusement park is no more and the land has returned to nature, but the grounds still serve Marylanders looking for a jaunt in the woods on one of its many paths.

Question: What is this area known as today, and what was it known as in its amusement park heyday?

Email us your answer, and you, too, could win a prize! Best of luck.

Until next month,

Burton Kummerow
President, The Maryland Historical Society
From Enemies to Allies
Commemorates the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the resulting two-century special relationship between the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. This three-day conference will feature the most current and distinguished scholarship on the causes, conduct and consequences of the War of 1812.
learn more 
"Humanizing the War
of 1812:
Join the National Park Service Trail staff and partners in this day-long workshop at Harford Community College in Bel Air, MD.
learn more 
Maryland's Civil War Photographs - The Sesquicentennial Edition
Learn more about Ross Kelbaugh's acclaimed work, and pick up your own limited-edition hardcover or softcover copy today!
learn more 
Founded in 1844, The Maryland Historical Society Museum and Library occupies an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore. The society's mission is to "collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland's diverse cultural heritage." The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled "Maryland Historical Magazine." The Society is located at 201 W. Monument Street and open to the public Wednesday-Saturday from 10 am-5 pm, and Sunday (library only) 12 pm-5pm.