September History Alive

Our Star-Spangled Summer 

From the desk of
Burt Kummerow

Volume 2 Issue 9
September 6, 2013

Dear Reader,

We've been talking up "stars" and "spangles" all summer here at the Maryland Historical Society. As our new and enormous Star-Spangled Banner has taken shape, the campus has buzzed with activity, and a simple idea has captured attention worldwide.

Place a stitch! Stitch some history! On a steamy July 4th, Baltimore's Mayor brought her daughter to the Fort McHenry parade and placed the first stitch. An idea caught fire, and the ritual continued for over 6 weeks. As our 200-plus devoted volunteer stitchers, all experienced and on a mission, laid stitch after stitch in row after row, folks arrived from far and wide, from every state, from Hong Kong, Siberia, Peru, Sydney and other exotic places around the world.

During our two Public Sewing Days in August, over 1,000 participants added their stitches to our flag! Check out the photos from August 3 and August 11 on our Facebook page.

Our Star Spangled Banner Project has received a lot of media attention, including coverage in The Baltimore Sun, USA Today, and TV stations around the country - and word has even spread as far away as China. I want you to keep your eyes out in particular for a story that will air on CBS News Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood on Sunday, September 15 - you just might see yourself in it!

The amazing summer, not soon forgotten, was just the beginning of what will undoubtedly be one of the most important events in our 170 years of making history. Our new flag will fly in many places, our original manuscript of the National Anthem will travel to new audiences, and our prize-winning exhibits and programs will continue to evoke the memory of dramatic events. The Maryland Historical Society is proud to be an essential part of Maryland and Baltimore’s Bicentennial.

So where's the flag's next stop?

Join Us for Defenders' Day

Fort McHenry
A view of the Bombardment of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, by the British fleet, taken from the observatory, under the command of admirals Cochrane & Cockburn, on the morning of the 13th of Sepr. 1814, Bower, J. sc., ca. 1814, MdHS, H89

What Is Defenders' Day?

Defenders' Day is Baltimore's oldest holiday. It honors the successful defense of the city from British attack and the writing of the National Anthem in 1814.

This year we will celebrate Defenders' Day on the weekend of September 13-September 15. The completed flag will be flown at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine on September 14, 2013. The flag will also be used for school programs and other public events in the Bicentennial year of the writing of the national anthem and the defense of the city of Baltimore.
From Friday, September 13 - Sunday, September 15, during the Star-Spangled Banner Defenders' Day Weekend, we will be commemorating the completion of the sewing of the flag by taking part in a city-wide celebration.

We are partnering with Fort McHenry National Monument and Shrine, the United States Mint, and the U.S. Army to put together a truly unforgettable event.

There will be a host of activities throughout Baltimore, including a special ceremony here at The Maryland Historical Society on Friday, September 13 at 1:30 pm.

Local school students will sing the National Anthem as the U.S. Army Old Guard Color Guard will fold the flag for transport to Fort McHenry. Ranger Vince Vaise, Fort McHenry Chief of Interpretation, will speak about the Battle Monument, a stop at which the flag will briefly visit on its way to Fort McHenry.

The complete Public Event schedule on September 13 at
The Maryland Historical Society is as follows:
1:30 pm: Welcome by Burt Kummerow
1:35 pm Ceremonial transfer of flag for the Defenders' Day celebrations
1:45 pm: Keynote by Ranger Vince Vaise on history and importance of monument and flag
1:55 pm: Singing of Star-Spangled Banner by School and Presentation of the colors
4:00 pm Star-Spangled Banner Flag visits the Battle Monument. Featuring Fort McHenry Guard fife and drum music

Over at Fort McHenry, the celebration will commence at 10 am on Friday, September 13. The newest quarter in the United States Mint's America the Beautiful Quarters® Program for 2013 will be launched. It features Fort McHenry and the Star-Spangled Banner and will be available all weekend at the Fort!

Visitors can exchange cash for new Fort McHenry quarters in $10 increments (while supplies last), courtesy M&T Bank. There is a $10, one roll minimum and $100, 10 roll maximum.

On Saturday, September 14 beginning at 9 am at Fort McHenry, there will be a large living history encampment featuring military drills, cooking demonstrations, musket firing, dress parade, cannon firing and a children's program featuring authors and local historians.

Flag Flying
Image courtesy Office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Our Must-See Event!

And at 6 PM on Saturday, September 14 at Fort McHenry, the recreated Star-Spangled Banner flag will be transported by the U.S. Army Old Guard on a caisson drawn by seven beautiful horses.

This is the same horse-drawn caisson used at Arlington National Cemetery, and it's one of the rare times it has ever left the Cemetery grounds.

The U.S. Army Drill Team will showcase a precision drill followed by a cannon-firing "battle" demonstrating the tactics used to defend Baltimore back in 1814. There will also be a patriotic concert by the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus performing the "1812 Overture," complete with cannon fire.

And, as the sun sets, a symbolic ship-to-shore "bombardment" will commence, with pyrotechnic "bombs bursting in air" over the Fort and cannon thunder replies. The flag will be ceremoniously raised over the fort, to the singing of the National Anthem.

A 30-minute large fireworks display will provide the capstone to the evening. You won't want to miss it!

For complete details about Defenders' Day activities at The Maryland Historical Society, see our website: And for details about Defenders' Day activities at Fort McHenry, visit:

See you then!

Rare Special Appearance at The Maryland Historical Society
An Evening with James M. McPherson:
"Civil War on Land and by Sea:
Abraham Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief"

James M. McPherson
James M. McPherson
The Maryland Historical Society proudly welcomes Pulitzer-prize winner author and historian Professor James M. McPherson on Thursday, November 14 beginning at 4 PM!

Dr. McPherson will speak on the subject of The Civil War on Land and by Sea: Abraham Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief.

McPherson will discuss President Lincoln's role as a war leader and commander-in-chief, touching on Lincoln's role in naval war policy. With the film "Lincoln" on many minds, McPherson's analysis of the president's special, even unique, leadership skills during the crisis makes this one of the most eagerly anticipated Maryland Historical Society events of the year.

The evening begins at 4 pm with a personal tour with Dr. McPherson of our 'Divided Voices: Maryland In the Civil War" Gallery. McPherson's lecture and book signing will follow at 6 pm. Light refreshments will be served.

War on the Waters

The evening will culminate with a dinner at The Maryland Club at 8pm. Seating for the Dinner is limited to 30 people.

Dr. McPherson will be signing copies of his newest book, War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865 (2012). Copies of his book, as well as his other recent publication, Lincoln, Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James M. McPherson (Sep 29, 2009), will be available for purchase.

Dr. James M. McPherson is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. He has published numerous volumes on the Civil War, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom, Crossroads of Freedom (which was a New York Times bestseller), Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, and For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, which won the Lincoln Prize.

Ticket prices for the event are as follows:
Lecture and Book Signing Only: Tickets for the Lecture and Book Signing, beginning at 6 pm, are $20 per person for MdHS members and $25 per person for nonmembers. Tickets may be purchased by clicking here or calling 410-685-3750 ext. 377.
Dinner, Civil War Gallery Tour, Lecture and Book Signing: Tickets for the Civil War Gallery Tour, Lecture & Book Signing and Dinner at the Maryland Club are $125 per person and may be purchased by clicking here or calling 410-685-3750 ext. 377.

This event is part of the Maryland Historical Society's Maritime Lecture series. Space is extremely limited, so reserve your tickets early before it sells out!

Ocean City: The Great Hurricane of 1933

Ocean City Hurricane, 1933

Two weeks ago, Special Collections Librarians Eben Dennis, Damon Talbot and Digital Imaging Curator Joe Tropea made a serendipitous find. While working on an unrelated patron request, Eben, Damon and Joe stumbled across a film entitled Ocean City Hurricane, 1933 in our rich a/v collection. Not only does this film contain great before and after footage of the storm, it also captures the creation of the inlet which ended up defining modern day Ocean City, only hours after it tore from the bay across the island.

Eben, Damon and Joe initially suspected the footage was somehow affiliated with Stark Films, a bygone local production house. The addition of title cards to the homemade footage suggested a professional touch and, since MdHS holds a number of the company's reels, it seemed a reasonable guess. We have since learned from newly found provenance records that the film was shot by S. Watts Smyth of St. Louis, Missouri, who may have had editing experience or at least access to a production house.

According to Bunny Connell, daughter of S. Watts Smyth, the family "spent each summer in Ocean City from 1926-'33." Until 1933, the family made the more than 900-mile journey by train from St. Louis. However that August, they made the 15-hour drive in their new Cadillac LaSalle. This was the Smyth's last summer spent in Ocean City before moving to Wyoming. Connell entrusted the film to MdHS in 1987.

This clip has been edited down to two minutes from the 11-minute original. To view the complete film or for more information about using or licensing it, please contact If you'd like to read some background about the storm check out the references on the Library's Underbelly blog, or read the following article from the Baltimore Sun. Enjoy!

Other Fall Events at
The Maryland Historical Society

The Psychology of Elizabeth Patterson:
A Special Curator's Tour

Bonaparte Painting
Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, François Josephe Kinsoen, circa 1817, Maryland Historical Society, Gift of Mrs. Charles Joseph Bonaparte, xx.5.72
On Thursday, September, 19 Chief Curator, Alexandra Deutsch presents a special tour of our Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte and Her Quest for an Imperial Legacy exhibition - this time, through the lens of a psychologist.

This special tour will focus on Elizabeth's letters and marginalia, her personal struggles as a strong-willed woman during the 19th century, and her strained relationship with her father, William Patterson.

Tour times are at 6:00 and 7:00 PM. Tickets are FREE for members and $25 for nonmembers. Space is limited, so please call 410-685-3750 ext. 377, email, or register online by clicking here. Light refreshments will be served.


Food Truck Gathering
September 26 at MdHS!

The Gathering
Image courtesy The Gathering
Mark your calendar - we're hosting some great music and Baltimore’s fabulous food trucks at the Maryland Historical Society!

The Gathering will be pulling into our parking lot at 201 West Monument Street on Thursday, September 26 from 5:00-10:00 PM.

If you haven't heard of The Gathering, you may have seen food trucks before on the Food Network on TV. These mobile food vendors come fully equipped to whip up your favorite bar-b-que, Mediterranean, sushi and dessert treats. It's quite an amazing sight.

Click here to see a list of Baltimore's ever-growing fleet of food trucks.

The city has come to know The Gathering's Food Truck events as some of the best nights in town, so that's why we're super excited to be hosting them. Plus, it will be the first-ever Food Truck night for the Mount Vernon neighborhood.
So tell your friends!

Admission to the food truck gathering is free, and check out The Gathering's website for up-to-the-minute details and the complete Food Truck lineup. See you there!

'History Hits the Road in High Style'
Hop Aboard A Maryland Historical Society
Bus Tour!

Wye House Heritage Tour: Archaeology at the Orangery

Wye House

On Saturday, October 5 from 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM, join us as we visit Wye House, one of the most important and well documented plantations in Maryland. Joint Heritage at Wye House is a major interpretive exhibition shown at the Academy Art Museum, drawing on archaeological evidence from the slave quarters and the Orangery at Wye House. The archaeological exhibition contains archival sources, household objects, books, recipe collections, maps, and artwork related to the people who lived and worked at Wye House.

Enjoy a curator-led tour of this exciting exhibition at the Academy Art Museum, take an exclusive tour of Wye House and the Orangery, and indulge in a luncheon and wine reception on the stunning patio at Wye House.

Tickets are $150 per person and may be purchased by visiting this link or calling 410-685-3750 ext. 377.

Baltimore's IMTAL Star Spangled Museum Theatre Tour


From October 6 - October 10, museum professionals from around the world will be gathering at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington D.C. for the International Museum Theatre Alliance Global Conference (IMTAL).

But on October 6, a special Pre-Conference Star-Spangled Museum Theatre Tour will take place right here in Baltimore. This event is a collaborative effort between the Baltimore School for the Arts, The Maryland Historical Society and The National Park Service.

The bus will leave from the Holiday Inn - Rosslyn Key Bridge in Arlington, VA at 7:30 AM and travel to Baltimore with a second pick up in Baltimore at 8:45 AM at the Maryland Historical Society. From there, the group travels to Fort McHenry where they will be entertained by a talented group of Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA) students in the production of Torn Asunder. Participants will be able to see some of the original scenes that illustrate the complexity of race relations during the American Civil War.

Students and faculty from the Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA) worked together to develop scripts and produce the performances. Students developed the themes for the plays by conducting research at the Maryland Historical Society's (MdHS) library. There will be time to view this landmark and its exhibit before participants hop back on the bus and whisked off to another time and place; the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Space is limited and tickets can be purchased on the International Museum Theatre Alliance's website. The deadline for registration is September 10, 2013.

Cigar and Whiskey Night

Whiskey and Cigar

On Saturday, October 12 at 6 PM, sip on some whiskey, smoke a cigar, and enjoy a refined evening in our MdHS courtyard.

This event is organized by the Young Defenders of the Maryland Historical Society (the people who brought you the Bootleggers Bash!).

Small-batch boutique whiskey tastings, provided by the Country Vintner
Whiskey bar with all the fixings for your favorite classic cocktails
Cigars courtesy of Main Street Cigar & Pipe Company
Hors d'oeuvres
A specialty cocktail for the ladies, the Scarlett O'Hara!
Guided tours of Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War Galley

Plus, FREE parking is available at 201 West Monument Street, Baltimore.

Tickets are $35 for MdHS members an $45 for new friends. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 410-685-3750 x399 or visit this link.

A Sneak Peek at our Spring Events!
Sign Up for The Costumes of Downton Abbey and the Hotel du Pont

Downton Abbey Sisters
Image courtesy PBS Masterpiece

On Saturday, March 1 from 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM, travel with us to Winterthur as we get a first look at Costumes of Downton Abbey, an original exhibition of exquisite designs from the award-winning television series.

Approximately 40 historically inspired costumes from the television show will be displayed and supplemented by photographs and vignettes inspired by the fictional program and by real life at Winterthur. Visitors will have a chance to step into and experience the world of Downton Abbey® and the contrasting world of Winterthur founder Henry Francis du Pont and his contemporaries in the first half of the 20th century.

Experience this fabulous exhibition during the premier weekend with an exclusive tour of the gallery and enjoy a champagne luncheon at the historic Green Room at the Hotel du Pont.

Tickets are $175 per person, and space is limited. Please call 410-685-3750 ext. 399, email, or register online by clicking here.

Other Events

David Brewster
Image courtesy David Brewster
In the fall of 2015 the Maryland Historical Society will present a year-long retrospective exhibition by David Brewster, a native Marylander and award-winning painter. Along with many of Brewster's works already in private collections he will be creating new paintings inspired by events of Maryland history. This exhibition will enable visitors to look at Maryland history through a contemporary lens.

Experience a taste of this forthcoming collaboration by visiting C. Grimaldis Gallery at 523 N. Charles Street on September 12 for an opening reception featuring a solo exhibit of Brewster's new body of work, entitled "Dick Turpin: The Spurious Highwayman." The reception at Grimaldis Gallery on September 12th from 6:00 to 8:00 PM is open to the public. For more information, call 410-539-1080. For more information on David Brewster, see

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!

Take a Look at Our Annual Report 

This month, in lieu of a Trivia question, we invite you to take 2 minutes and fill out our Annual Survey. Your feedback is very important to us, as we have made changes to our operations based upon your responses. We want the absolute best experience for all of our visitors, and we appreciate your efforts in making that possible.

Just click here to take the survey:

After you complete this survey, your name will be entered in a raffle to receive a signed copy of Ross Kelbaugh's new book, Maryland's Civil War Photographs: The Sesquicentennial Collection!

We'd like to thank all of our MdHS Members who already filled out this survey early last month. As always, our sincerest thanks for your time and thoughts!

Until next month,

Burton Kummerow
President, The Maryland Historical Society
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 (museum only) 12 pm-5pm.