Preservation Maryland records in UMD’s Special Collections

Preservation Maryland Dispaly in the Maryland Room

Jen Wachtel with the Maryland Room Mini-Exhibit, Steward to Advocacy

Marylanders value the state’s history and often recognize Preservation Maryland as one of the state’s foremost historic preservation organizations. Preservation Maryland is nationally renowned for its advocacy, outreach, and funding efforts. Founded in 1931, Preservation Maryland made the University Libraries its official institutional repository in 2008. These records are an incredible resource for historic preservation students as well as anyone interested in Maryland history.  An abstract of the collection is available here, and you can check out a Preservation Maryland mini-exhibit in the Maryland Room for the month of April!

Novara, Redding, Wachtel

Jen Wachtel discussing documents with Preservation Maryland Executive Director Nicholas Redding and Maryland and Historic Collections Curator Liz Novara. Photo by Megan Baco, Preservation Maryland.

This semester, I designed a Museum Scholarship and Material Culture (MSMC) practicum to increase awareness of Preservation Maryland’s institutional records housed at the University of Maryland’s Special Collections. In addition, I will contextualize the records’ significance within the greater field of historic preservation. The practicum includes a mini-exhibit, an open house, a draft finding aid for the collection, and a future processing plan. I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with both Preservation Maryland and Maryland and Historical Collections to facilitate greater understanding of the importance of historic preservation here in Maryland. I would highly encourage other students to take advantage of the professional opportunities in Special Collections.

The mini-exhibit Stewardship to Advocacy: 86 Years of Preservation Maryland  just opened  in the Maryland Room and includes visually compelling documents from Preservation Maryland’s history, such architectural plans of Old St. Paul’s Rectory and Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. The documents showcase how this nationally-renowned preservation organization transitioned from stewarding and operating historic sites to a focus on advocacy, education, and fundraising. I also selected some documents from outside the Preservation Maryland records, like a postcard from the Institute of American Deltiology Postcard Collection and a photograph from the Baltimore News American Collection, to highlight the depth of the Maryland Historical Collections and the historic preservation holdings.

On Thursday, April 27, 2017 from 5-7pm, the Maryland and Historical Collections Unit of the University of Maryland Special Collections will host an open house promoting the wealth of Preservation Maryland documents available for research. My upcoming preliminary finding aid (a document describing the records available for research) and future processing plan will facilitate ongoing access to Preservation Maryland’s role within Maryland’s strong nonprofit historic preservation tradition.

Blueprints from Preservation Maryland Records

Jen Wachtel revealing blueprints from the Preservation Maryland records. Photo curtesy of Meagan Baco, Preservation Maryland.

I made some fascinating discoveries already within the Preservation Maryland records. At first, I spent the bulk of my time creating a preliminary inventory of the newest addition to the Preservation Maryland records. I found extensive documentation of Preservation Maryland’s statewide initiatives, including the Tobacco Barn Restoration Fund. I learned about the values of the organization by reviewing its efforts to preserve Old St. Paul’s Rectory, its former headquarters. In preparation for the mini-exhibit, I found evidence of Preservation Maryland’s long-term advocacy efforts such as correspondence with then-Mayor Martin O’Malley, Congressman Steny Hoyer, and former Governor Parris Glendening. Just recently, I uncovered the correspondence of Robert Garrett, who redefined the Society for the Preservation of Maryland Antiquities that would later become Preservation Maryland. I am looking forward to sharing exciting new discoveries in future blog posts!


Jen Wachtel is a graduate student in the History and Library Science (HiLS) dual master’s program and expects to graduate in December 2018. She is also a Graduate Assistant for the Labor Collections at SCUA and intends to work in museum archives upon graduation.

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