Dipping into Maryland Public Television

The coronavirus pandemic has many of us from Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) working from home, which provides the opportunity for me, student assistant Emily Moore, to get to know our collections in a new way. My current project at Hornbake involves working closely on our collection of Maryland Public Television (MPT), which celebrated its milestone 50th anniversary in 2019 (check out the online version of our gallery exhibit.  As a recent transplant from the West Coast, I have discovered that working with MPT content provides me a unique lens into Maryland culture and history. A wide range of television content that dates from the 1970s is available from SCUA in our Digital Collections database. Through watching four episodes of MPT programs, I got an intimate, first-hand introduction to Maryland. Today’s post focuses on  Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields, but be sure to check back for subsequent posts about MPT classic programming including Crabs, Our Street and Basically Baseball.

Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields is hosted by Baltimore native John Shields, who balances interludes of cooking with explorations of the Mid-Atlantic landscape, combining his love of animals, plants, learning and food. Each episode features a different region, offering viewers an armchair trip that is especially welcome as we socially distance and remain in our homes. In his April 7, 1998 episode on Bishop’s Head, we learn how to make Maryland fried chicken and bread in the shape of a crab. As a woman born and raised in Colorado, I had to Google what a blue crab looked like in order to make sure I structured mine correctly. Turns out they’re beautiful. Here’s a picture of one featured on a postcard from the National Trust Library Postcard Collection:

Love from Maryland, circa 1981-2000. Postcard features word "LOVE" created from photographs of Maryland.
Love from Maryland, circa 1981-2000. National Trust for Historic Preservation Library Collection, https://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/20592.

Fried chicken

I love fried chicken, but I have always been reluctant to try making a batch without a fryer. John Shields, however, demonstrates an easy way to use a pan frying technique. Thankfully, I already had most of the ingredients, but because of the pandemic I had to create my own homemade buttermilk and Chesapeake Bay seasoning substitutes. (Was Shields referring to Old Bay? Keep in mind I only learned about Old Bay six months ago, and I definitely don’t have any in my kitchen (yet!). I approximate my own and hope for the best; I won’t be able to tell if it’s wrong anyway.

I put the chicken in one morning to soak up all the goodness overnight. Shields really sells this recipe by promising lots of secrets, and boy does he deliver. Here they are: hot oil (400 degrees), a BIG skillet with a cover and cooking for 20 minutes. It turned out as juicy as Lizzo’s big hit last year. 

Crusty Crustacean Bread

In the second cooking segment of the episode, Shields is joined by Whitey Schmidt, a man whose amazing name is matched only by his amazing beard. Whitey describes his recipe like the technical challenge round on The Great British Baking Show – we get virtually no information on ingredient volume or measurements. I decided to pretend like it really was 1998 and I had to make do with the information from the show. 

picture of Whitey Schmidt holding leeks from his garden
Blue Crab Guru Whitey Schmidt holding leeks from his garden. Schmidt’s cooking was featured on MPT. Image source: https://travelhag.com/whitey-schmidt/.

As with the buttermilk for the fried chicken, a substitute was necessary, but in this case, it was a full omission – I had no raisins to make the crab eyes. My crab was destined to know the world only through his pinchers and little lemon antennae. After a bunch of kneading (I’ve got the need to knead), two rounds of rising and 15 minutes in the oven, my bread came out tasty, if a little… too puffy? If anyone knows why, leave a comment with the answer!

So, thanks to John Shields and his old pal Whitey Schmidt, plus featured children helpers Erica and Brian, my husband and I are breaking up our pandemic menu of bananas and canned tomatoes. With two more episodes of Chesapeake Bay Cooking currently digitized, I’m looking forward to making shortcake (Reedville, Virginia episode) and learning what on earth slippery dumplings are (Kent County, Maryland episode). 

Before the pandemic, my projects at Hornbake Library included creating an inventory and associated metadata of the entire MPT audiovisual collection. While that can be repetitive and difficult to translate into a compelling blog post, the content of MPT programming is a whole different story! Check back soon for the next installment of our MPT content series, where we learn hot baseball tips from the 1973 Baltimore Orioles! 

All images in this post are courtesy of Emily Moore unless otherwise noted.

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Emily Moore is a second year MLIS student with a background in art and theory. In addition to her role as a student assistant at Special Collections and University Archives, she works as the Archival Assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Digital Resource: The Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven Papers

Happy National Poetry Month!  As we celebrate some of our favorite poets, it’s also an opportunity to discover someone whose poetry you may not have read before.

One poet worth examining is the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-1927), the avant garde German poet.  Von Freytag-Loringhoven was a woman of many talents. In addition to her work as a poet, von Freytag-Loringhoven was an artist who was active in the Dada movement, which rejected logic and reason in favor of absurdity. 

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New Acquisition: The Little Prince

While we’re self-quarantining, one thing many of us have been looking for to pass the time is a good book!  If you’re looking for something to keep you company while social distancing, or to read to the family, you may want to find a copy of The Little Prince, the classic novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  First published 77 years ago (April, 1943) in France, it is a beautiful and heartwarming story that continues to be a favorite for the young, old, and everyone in between. If you don’t own a copy of the book, you can also find a film adaptation streaming on Netflix.  Although The Little Prince was originally written as a children’s book, its themes of love, loneliness, and friendship have made it popular with readers of all ages.

Before Special Collections and University Archives closed to the public, our Literature and Rare Books staff received a generous donation of over 50 editions of The Little Prince published all over the world, translated in 38 languages! It’s a wonderful addition to our collections, covering topics ranging from book history to modernist literature.

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“Get Out the Vote”: New Gallery Exhibition Coming in August

As millions of voters visit the polls to cast their vote this Super Tuesday, we want to share some exciting news about the work that goes on behind the scenes in Special Collections and University Archives. Librarians are busy preparing the next gallery exhibition, to be installed in August 2020, which will explore the history of voting rights in the United States.

The people who have organized at the local level have been incredibly important to voters’ rights and their local stories make up the larger national story of changes to American voting rights throughout this nation’s history. “Get Out the Vote”, the upcoming exhibition will feature material from our collections that illustrate the history and stories of those who have organized to “get out the vote.”

New Exhibit on Intersectional Feminism Now on Display

A new exhibit in the Maryland Room celebrates Black and Women’s History Months. Two cases showcase works by and about black women, including essays, poetry, and black student newspapers. They feature civil rights icons like Angela Davis, Pauli Murray, Maya Angelou, and Shirley Chisholm. 

Another case explores intersectional feminism as a whole. It includes documents by and about lesbian and trans women, disabled women, Native American and Chicana women, working class women, older women, and women from developing countries. 

What is intersectional feminism? Put simply, intersectional feminism emphasizes the fact that all women have different experiences and identities. People are often disadvantaged by more than one source of oppression: their race, class, sexual orientation, religion, or nationality may affect their experience as a woman. Intersectionality explores how multiple identities interact with each other, especially within the frameworks of oppression and marginalization. 

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In Time for Valentine’s Day, Long Lost Companions are Reunited

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, librarians have reunited two important local history collections. This week, the acetate film and glass plate negatives, previously cared for by the librarians at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, were transferred to Hornbake Library. Beginning this week, these resources will reside alongside their long lost companion, and one of our most popular collections, the Baltimore News American photo morgue, a collection of over 1 million photographs used during the publication run of the Baltimore’s now defunct News American.

This massive task was undertaken by librarians from Special Collections and our Preservation Department. Thank you to all who helped!

New Exhibit: Rare Books Big and Small

A new exhibit in the Maryland Room celebrates rare books that share a common physical attribute – their unique format. Specifically their shape and size! Thin and thick. Big and small. Folio. Miniature. Quadragesimo-Octavo. From the tiniest book in our collections that can be held in the palm of a hand to larger works that require two people to move, these books showcase the variety of shapes and sizes utilized by bookmakers over the centuries.

Physical attributes such as book dimensions raise compelling questions for those interested in book history. For example: Why did the printer choose such a small format? Who is the intended audience for a massive book? How does size affect the experience of reading a book? Format and size has an impact on price, accessibility, and construction of a book. Along with other physical attributes, it is an important element to examine when investigating the history and usage of a rare book.

Three exhibit cases in the Maryland Room contain oversize and miniature books dated from the 1400s to the 1900s, all part of the Rare Books collection in Special Collections and University Archives. The oldest item, featuring an impossibly small font meticulously lettered by hand, is a vellum manuscript leaf from Italy, dated 15th century. It measures roughly 4 inches high (including large page margins). On display alongside the illuminated manuscript leaf is a miniature edition of the Reliquiae sacrae Carolinae. Or, the works of that great monarch and glorious martyr King Charles the I , printed in Hague in 1657.

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