Digital Exhibit Celebrates Voting and 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

Thanks to the Society of American Archivists’ Women’s Collections Section for allowing us to share our exhibition!

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This post was written by Laura Cleary, Instruction and Outreach Librarian at the University of Maryland Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. Some of the text in this post was adapted from the Get Out the Vote exhibition.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of 15th amendment granting African American suffrage and the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment granting women suffrage, the University of Maryland Libraries created an exhibition to explore the history of voting rights in the United States of America. Debates over who had the right to vote, the mechanisms and timing of elections, and who is eligible to run for office have raged for hundreds of years. Barriers to voting have led many to advocate for a more representative electorate and to encourage greater participation in local, state, and national elections. At the heart of the fight for voting rights are these advocates and grassroot organizations who…

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History of Special Collections and University Archives

University Records and Library Collections, 1856-1940

For the first 100 years of the University’s history, the administrative records of the university were preserved, if at all, outside of the control of librarians or archivists. Beginning in 1856 with the founding of the Maryland Agricultural College (now the University of Maryland), the records of the college administrators were informally kept, mainly in the offices of the President and Treasurer, but also in various departments on campus. But their existence was significant enough to be noted in 1912, when many of the records were burned in the great fire that swept through the Barracks and Administration Building.1

Salvaging University records and other items from the 1912 fire of the Administration Building, University of Maryland Print Files (Series 5, Box 2, Folder 4), “Maryland Agricultural College fire.”
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Explore Rare Books at UMD: Eikon Basilike LibGuide

Special Collections is highlighting an interesting collection within our Rare Books collection. If you would like to learn about 17th century English politics, banned books, biography and representation, printing, and the power of a text over time, we have a subject guide for you! The Eikon Basilike guide gives an overview of the editions and resources on the Eikon Basilike that are available in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library.

The Pourtrature of His Sacred Majestie in His Solitudes and Sufferings, more commonly know as the Eikon Basilike, was an autobiography attributed to King Charles I of England. It was published several days after the King was beheaded by Parliament in the aftermath of the English Civil War and painted the former King as a martyr. The frontispiece depicts Charles I the night before his execution and is full of symbolic imagery. The commonwealth government tried to suppress this royalist propaganda, but were ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts to ban the Eikon Basilike.

To view the various editions of Eikon Basilike in Special Collections search our catalog or if you have any questions, please contact us!

Victoria Vera is a graduate student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program at UMD and a student assistant in the Literature and Rare Books Collections, Special Collections and University Archives.

New Resource: LibGuide on Fine Press Books in Special Collections

Special Collections is highlighting the selection of Fine Press books within the Literature and Rare Books collections with a new subject guide, Fine Press Books in Special Collections! If you would like to learn more about fine press books but aren’t sure where to start, we have a solution. The guide highlights material created by various Fine Presses that are available in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library.

Beginning in the late 19th century, artists, authors, and craftsmen of the Fine Press movement took care and consideration in the elements of a book. Attention was given to the typography, design, illustration, printing and binding of fine press books. The Fine Press movement produced beautifully crafted books, often in small print-runs of high quality, designed and crafted by individuals or small businesses.

For more resources on Fine Press Books search our catalog or if you have any questions, please contact us!

Victoria Vera is a graduate student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program at UMD and a student assistant in the Literature and Rare Books Collections, Special Collections and University Archives.

New Exhibit: The Revolution Will be Printed – Graphic Arts as Activism

The Revolution Will be Printed: Graphic Arts as Activism is a celebration of printed works that drive social change through celebration, critique, and creation. To kick off this exhibit, I am thinking about artwork created for two different printed newspapers in Hornbake’s holdings, El Malcriado and the AFL-CIO News that cover the Delano Grape Strike.

In protest against poor pay and working conditions, over 800 farmworkers agreed to strike and walked off their jobs in the grape fields of Delano, California in September 1965. The strike leaders were Filipino members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). They reached out to the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) for support. The NFWA membership, whose leaders included César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, voted in overwhelming favor of striking. The AWOC and the NFWA then became the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) union.

El Malcriado was established by César Chávez as the unofficial newspaper of the UFW (United Farmworkers of America) in 1964. It was titled after a rallying cry from the Mexican Revolution and was printed first in Spanish and then in English as well (1910-1920). The woodcuts, engravings, and pen-and-ink drawings for El Malcriado continue a Mexican-American (Chicano/a/x) graphic arts tradition.

This cover by Frank Cieciorka brings together cultivation and cultural heritage. Agricultural labor is brought back to ancient practice through the prominence of maize and the integration of Mesoamerican sculpture and architecture. Cieciorka is also known for the woodcut print of the fist that graced countless posters and buttons at demonstrations throughout the 1960s. 

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A Life in Letters: Katherine Anne Porter Digitization Continues!

We are excited to be back in action, kicking off phase 4 of the Katherine Anne Porter correspondence digitization project! Porter was an award winning author best known for her short stories, including Pale Horse, Pale Rider and her full length novel Ship of Fools. In 1966 Porter donated her literary archive to Special Collections at the University of Maryland, where a room was created in her honor. Now housed on the first floor of Hornbake Library, the Katherine Anne Porter room showcases book, photos, furniture, and memorabilia collected during her life.

Katherine Anne Porter talking with R. Lee Hornbake at the dedication of the original Katherine Anne Porter room in McKeldin library, May 15, 1968
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The Visual Culture of Labor in the 1930s: A Visit to the George Meany Labor Archive

On February 8 and 10, 2022, the twelve students in ARTH488D: Mining the Visual Culture of the Great Depression visited the University of Maryland’s Special Collections to explore 1930s materials from the George Meany Labor Archive. Students leafed through folders of original documents and photographs, and worked together to select and analyze a key primary source of their choosing. Our goal was to ask what we could learn from these materials– especially their visual form–about how people experienced the economic crisis and labor struggles of the Depression era. Please enjoy our explorations below!

“No Help Wanted”

This cartoon from a periodical clipping from 1931 in the midst of the Great Depression, shows a man looking at a sign that reads “NO HELP WANTED”. He appears to be sad and dejected. A connection between the viewer and the figure in the image can be made by the way they are both reading the sign at the same time. The figure’s back is turned, directing the viewer’s eyes to the message, while also noticing his posture which shows emotions of dejection, tiredness, and worry. This item creates feelings of sympathy and sadness for the figure and feelings of wanting to help and support him. This image appears to be reproduced in a magazine or pamphlet of sorts to encourage workers to take action in protest for better working conditions, job opportunities, wages, and so much more. We believe this image was intended to resonate with people affected by the crash of the Great Depression. Having the opportunity to look at this primary source allows us to further understand the struggles that working and lower-class citizens endured during a time period of limited jobs and low pay. #GreatDeressionVisualCulture #NoHelpWanted #RouseHimToAction

–Jessica and John

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This is a Woman’s World!

Content Warning: This post discusses issues related to sexual assault, abortion, and homophobia.

I just feel like women, they have minds and they have souls, as well as just hearts, and they’ve got ambition and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty.

Jo March, Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig, 2019)

Mother nature. Lady Liberty. The Divine Feminine. Womanhood and femininity are intertwined with our vocabulary, inherently linked with our everyday interactions, with the way we speak, the way we think, and the way we see the world around us. Maryland and Historical Collections (MDHC) here at SCUA wants to emphasize that intertwining and uplift women and femme-identifying individuals by highlighting one of our collections that centers their voices.

Specifically, this post will highlight MDHC’s off our backs records. off our backs, or oob for short, was a non-profit feminist journal by, for, and about women, published from 1970 until 2008 in Washington, D.C. The journal covered a wide range of radical and difficult topics, moving seamlessly from local to national to international women’s rights issues, extending its broad reach to ensure everyone who opened the journal’s pages felt seen and included. 

Description of the "Thumb Poke," a self-defense tactic that involves poking an attacker in the eye. A black-and-white illustration depicts one person's thumb overlaying another person's eye.

The journal gave readers a uniquely diverse knowledge of where women stood in the midst of worldwide issues, such as highlighting the plight and fight of Vietnamese women during the Vietnam War (Vol. 3, No. 7), while also providing local information to women in the DMV area, such as a full-page spread listing out the pros and cons of different abortion clinics and gynecological offices in the D.C. Metro area, published directly after Roe v. Wade (Vol. 3, No. 10). In addition, the journal included general survival tips that were useful for women everywhere, with one issue laying out different tactics for physically fighting off would-be rapists (a finger in the eye socket seems to do the trick).

off our backs balanced these necessary but sometimes upsetting facts and stories with the inclusion of beautiful art, prose, and poetry, all created by a diverse group of women. Issues of off our backs are easily recognizable, thanks in part to their bold cover art and unique illustrations.

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New Exhibit – Watershed Moment: Celebrating and Protecting the Chesapeake Bay

Spring is finally here, bringing longer days, warmer weather, and flourishing wildlife. Maryland neighbors the Chesapeake Bay, a brackish estuary into which all rivers of the adjacent watershed empty. Did you know the land-to-water ratio of the Chesapeake Bay’s watershed is 14 to 1, greater than any other coastal body of water in the world? This means our actions on land have a big impact on the Bay’s health. While some human activity can pollute or harm the Bay, other human interventions are crucial to promoting and protecting the region’s unique biodiversity and cultural significance.

Introductory panel for the latest Maryland Room exhibit, "Watershed Moment: Celebrating and Protecting the Chesapeake Bay." The panel is blue with an outline of an unidentified bird in flight. A black and white photograph from the Baltimore News American collection depicts a crowd of people along the Bay's shore, watching several ships in the water.

The latest exhibition in the Maryland Room at Hornbake Library, Watershed Moment: Celebrating and Protecting the Chesapeake Bay, showcases the Bay’s vast and varied landscape and efforts to preserve its unique resources. We hope this exhibit inspires a greater appreciation for this region we call home and an awareness of our own responsibility in protecting the environment.

On display are items from Maryland and Historical Collections, including representations of the Bay and advocacy materials from local environmental organizations. A spotlight on the records of the Coalition to Preserve Black Marsh demonstrates the importance of community involvement in conserving the Bay and surrounding watershed. The Black Marsh Natural Area (North Point State Park, Baltimore County) is a tidal freshwater-brackish wetland home to a variety of unique shrubs, flowers, and wildlife, including the bald eagle. In the 1990s, the Coalition to Preserve Black Marsh, a group of local residents and environmentalists, raised awareness of this area’s vulnerable wildlife and sought to preserve its undisturbed wetlands. The coalition’s records reveal a commitment to education and community-led decision-making. We encourage you to visit to learn more about how we can all advocate for the Chesapeake Bay environment.

Exhibition is open Monday–Friday, 10am–4pm in the Maryland Room at Hornbake Library and on display through May 6th.

To explore more, visit Special Collections and University Archives to view the Coalition to Preserve Black Marsh records and other materials related to the Chesapeake Bay.


Exhibit curated by Jacob Hopkins, an MLIS student and the Graduate Assistant for Reference, Outreach, and Engagement, Maryland and Historical Collections, Special Collections and University Archives.

Maryland Suffrage News Now Available in Chronicling America

Don’t let the end of Women’s History Month be the end of reading and research about women’s history! The Maryland Suffrage News is now available online at Chronicling America, and it is full of information about how women built up the suffrage movement in Maryland from 1912 to 1920. A weekly newspaper that was published out of Baltimore, the Maryland Suffrage News was edited by its founder, Edith Houghton Hooker, and managed by Dora G. Ogle. 

A group of about twenty people, mostly women, in front of a sign reading VOTES FOR WOMEN. Subtitled "Woman Suffrage Party Members in Annapolis."

Maryland suffrage news. (Baltimore, Md.), 15 Jan. 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89060379/1916-01-15/ed-1/seq-1/>

As an activist newspaper, the Maryland Suffrage News focused on grassroots organizing, announcing and reporting on such actions as meetings, petitions, and parades. One distinctive strategy was suffrage pilgrimages across the state. The newspaper informed readers of upcoming events and related what had happened at previous events. You can search the name of your county to see what activities were taking place there: where the meetings were held, who were the speakers, how many attended. Activists would have been able to read remarks made in meetings on the other side of the state, or even in other states, as they strategized to win Maryland over to their cause county by county.

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