The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project (HMNP) here at UMD Libraries teamed up with the Maryland State Archives (MSA) and other cultural heritage institutions across the state to carry out a social media campaign on the Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook platforms to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. We at HMNP wanted our posts to showcase elements of women’s suffrage in Maryland and/or aspects from the broader suffrage movement that were featured in the Chronicling America Maryland newspaper titles. MSA wanted their posts to examine specific stories from the movement in Maryland. By utilizing the same hashtags, our content would trend together on each platform, and we invited others to use the same hashtags during a week long campaign to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment in Maryland earlier this month.
We gathered hashtag ideas from Twitter, choosing hashtags that have been previously used to celebrate the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, as well as ones that did not return any results. Selecting hashtags that have been used in the past ensured that our content would appear alongside relevant posts seen by greater audiences. However, by creating original hashtags, we ensured that our posts would exist together as a separate campaign, without the congestion of other Twitter content. We decided on the following hashtags: #MarylandWomenVote and #MDSuffrage as our unique hashtags to be used along with our ongoing use of #ChroniclingAmerica, #ChronAm, and #HistoricMDNews. If there were enough characters left for including other hashtags appropriate for women’s suffrage and the 19th centennial, we could use those, as well. With those instructions, we got to work.
One newspaper in Chronicling America that we featured was the Maryland Suffrage News. Published prior to the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, the Maryland Suffrage News featured articles, images, and advertisements relating to the Suffrage Movement in Maryland and across the United States. While we knew of the general content that the Maryland Suffrage News published, we did not really know what kinds of articles were available in Chronicling America until we took a deeper dive. To accomplish this, we started broadly searching these issues. One of our favorite images was of the Suffrage Army, which we utilized in our first post during the week long campaign (above). During the summer of 1914, there appeared to be a state-wide pilgrimage with marches taking place across the state of Maryland, including Garrett County, Howard County, and Anne Arundel County. With images of marchers and a travel itinerary published, the Maryland Suffrage News depicted the dedication of the suffrage movement while also highlighting newsworthy events.
Since the Maryland Suffrage News has a smaller presence on Chronicling America with 14 issues right now (but more to come this Fall!), we did not need to conduct too many keyword or date searches with this newspaper. Rather, this strategy came into play when searching for articles in other newspapers. For example, with the centennial of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment falling on August 18, 2020, we used the Advanced Search banner to narrow the search dates to August 1920. For keywords, “suffrage,” “Nineteenth Amendment,” “suffragists,” and “women vote” were helpful in finding articles and images.
Special thanks to our HMNP advisory board members participating with their organizations in the campaign including the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University; Western Maryland’s Historical Library; our own UMD Libraries Special Collections and University Archives; and of course, the Maryland State Archives who co-led the campaign. We appreciate all of the Maryland cultural heritage institutions who joined us in this endeavor and you can search #MarylandWomenVote and #MDSuffrage to see all of the participating organization’s posts from this campaign celebrating women’s suffrage in Maryland!
Interested in learning more about HMNP and the Maryland newspapers available for research? Take a look at Chronicling America and be sure to follow us on social media @HistoricMDNews on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!
Bryanna Bauer and Sarah McKenna are starting their second year as MLIS students in the UMD College of Information Science this Fall. Bryanna and Sarah are student assistants for the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project in the Digital Conversion and Media Reformatting Department of UMD Libraries.