“Researching the Reservation”: Finding East Baltimore’s Historic Lumbee Indian Community in the Archives

Typical Lumbee Youth in North Carolina (1958)

Following WWII, thousands of Lumbee Indians migrated from rural North Carolina to Baltimore City, in search of employment and a better quality of life. They settled on the east side of town, in an area that bridges the neighborhoods known as Upper Fells Point and Washington Hill.

Today, most Baltimoreans would be surprised to learn that this area was once so densely populated by Indians that it was referred to as “the reservation.” In fact, an anthropologist who did fieldwork in the community during its heyday wrote that this was “perhaps the single largest grouping of Indians from the same tribe in an American urban area.” However, the area had been slated for Urban Renewal before most Lumbees ever arrived, and it has been included in various redevelopment projects ever since.

There are but 2 active Lumbee community-owned sites remaining, where there were once more than 30, according to elders who were among the first to settle. Most of the sites have been repurposed or demolished in the years since. It is through archival research that the historic Lumbee community of East Baltimore can be mapped and reconstructed. Special Collections at University of Maryland College Park holds some of the most useful materials to this end. Featured photographs are from the Baltimore News American Photograph Collection.

The vast majority of existing literature on the Lumbee Indian community of Baltimore has been produced by University of Maryland affiliates Abraham Makofsky (Faculty, School of Social Work, 1967-1979), Anne Brigid Globensky (PhD, American Studies 1999), and Ashley Minner (Lumbee) (PhD, American Studies, anticipated 2020).

The 1956, ‘61, and ‘64 Polk Baltimore City directories have been invaluable in the process of researching the historic Lumbee Indian community. These amazing resources provide exact addresses for many significant sites that have since been redeveloped or razed. One can also utilize the directories to locate the homes of Lumbee people. Common Lumbee surnames are especially prevalent on the pages documenting E. Baltimore Street as it intersects with Ann Street, which was the heart of the Indian community. Ex. Locklear, Hammonds, Holmes, Revels, Sampson, Lowery.

Notable People

Baltimore American Indian Center

American Indian Study Center

Indian Education Program


In the wake of civil unrest following the landmark decision, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and racial integration of public schools, a resurgence of the hate group, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), was seen throughout the U.S. South. In January 1958, Robeson County North Carolina, home of the Lumbee Indians, became the site of one of the most significant acts of resistance to this hate group.

“The KKK’s actions in Robeson County in 1958 were orchestrated by James W. ‘Catfish’ Cole, the ‘grand wizard’ of a South Carolina branch of the Klan and a self-proclaimed advocate of segregation.”[1] Klan car “caravans” had been “cruising” Indian communities on Saturday evenings to intimidate and terrorize people. Two crosses had been burned on the front lawns of Indian homes. “Following the burnings, Cole announced that the KKK would hold a rally in Robeson County in order ‘to put the Indians in their place, to end race mixing.’”[2] The Robeson County Sheriff’s Department, having been informed that the rally was being planned, took action to dissuade Cole. When Cole would not be dissuaded, assistance was asked of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as bloodshed was expected.

Lumbee scholar Malinda Maynor-Lowery writes, “Along with Charlie Warriax, Simeon Oxendine- a [U.S. Airforce WWII] veteran, business owner, and the son of Pembroke’s mayor- gathered up the Klan’s banner [also left behind], carried it back to Pembroke, and burned Catfish Cole in effigy.”[6] “As [Simeon] later recounted, ‘I helped to pull the Klan’s flag down and this seemed to make them mad.

The Lumbee routing of the KKK in 1958 is not only a hallmark event in Lumbee tribal history, it is one of the most significant examples of successful grassroots resistance to racial hatred in contemporary U.S. history. As anthropologist Karen Blu noted, through their involvement in the civil rights movement- this act among others- Lumbees have had an “impact on Indian affairs and ultimately, perhaps, on the nation’s image of Indians.”[8]

Lumbee men stand in a group before the arrival of the KKK

On the evening of January 18, 1958, about 50 Klansmen, their families in tow, assembled at the field. To their great surprise and dismay, they were met by as many as 500 Indians who were armed with “rifles, shotguns, pitchforks, axes and hoes.”[3] “Klansmen circled their cars in the center of the field and set up a small generator with a PA system and a light bulb.”[4] According to Sanford Locklear, he held leaders of the rally at gunpoint and his brother-in-law, Neil Lowry, shot the light bulb.[5] With that, a great commotion commenced with Indians shooting and war whooping. The Klansmen, frightened, ran away leaving their wives and children behind. Indians later assisted Cole’s own wife, who drove her car into a ditch while attempting to flee the scene. Incredibly, no one was killed or seriously injured.

Charlie Warriax and Simeon Oxendine wrapped in KKK banner after shutting down a klan rally

Wrapped in the KKK’s banner [along with friend Charlie Warriax], Oxendine was [later] photographed by journalists. When the rally became international news, the picture was reproduced in magazines and newspapers around the world. Hailed as a hero, Oxendine received thousands of letters, telegrams, and cablegrams. As its most famous participant, he summed up the significance of the Lumbee’s fight against the KKK: ‘We killed the Klan once and for all. We did the right thing for all people.’”[7] The KKK have not held a public demonstration in Robeson County, North Carolina since.

[1] Dial, Adolph L. The Lumbee, ed. Porter, Frank W. (New York Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1993.) p. 97

[2] Ibid.

[3] Chavers, Dean, “Battle of Hayes Pond: The Day Lumbees Ran the Klan Out of North Carolina,” Indian Country Media Network Today, January 25, 2015, accessed February 17, 2015.

[4] Maynor-Lowery, Malinda. Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, & The Making of a Nation. North Carolina: Univeristy of North Carolina Press, 2010). p 252.
“Sanford Locklear talks about Lumbee uprising of KKK, Maxton 1958,” Youtube: Accessed February 21, 2015.

[6] Maynor-Lowery, Malinda. Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, & The Making of a Nation. North Carolina: Univeristy of North Carolina Press, 2010). p 252-253.

[7] Dial, Adolph L. The Lumbee, ed. Porter, Frank W. (New York Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1993.) p. 97.

This exhibit was created by Kimmi Ramnine, Graduate Assistant for Instruction and Outreach, in partnership with Ashley Minner.

Ashley is a community-based visual artist from Baltimore, Maryland. An enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, she has been active in the Baltimore Lumbee community for many years. Ashley is a lecturer and folklorist in the Department of American Studies at University of Maryland Baltimore County. She is a doctoral candidate in the Department of American Studies at University of Maryland College Park, where she is completing her dissertation on the Lumbee community of Baltimore, in relation to the particular shifting landscape where the community was first established.


New Exhibit for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This blog post and its accompanying exhibit in the main lobby of McKeldin Library chronicle the ongoing student activism at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) to create a culture that actively works to prevent power-based violence and support survivors of sexual assault.

Though sexual assault was not part of the public discourse at UMD prior to the 1970s, examples from the 1950s and 1960s highlight how sexual assault and rape culture impacted student life. This Associated Women Students Revised Dress Code from 1968 highlights the way that women were seen as responsible for the treatment they received based on their personal appearance, and how accepted standards of behavior based on gender roles often reinforced and obscured rape culture. Strict limitations on women’s conduct and dress connect to an ideal of purity and serve to prevent women from having sexual contact before marriage. Women were often blamed for any unwanted contact if they did not abide by these codes. Ideas like these often reinforce the idea that rape is result of the behavior or appearance of the victim, rather than the actions of the perpetrator. It is also important to note that these stark distinctions between men and women can often erase the fact that a person of any gender can be sexually assaulted.

Report from the Association of Women Students
Association of Women Students — Reports, 1954-1964. Division of Student Affairs records, 5.1.4. Special Collections and University Archives. University of Maryland Libraries.

During the 1970s, with the emergence of the women’s liberation movement, there was an upsurge in student organizing around sexual assault. Considered to be the third peak of sexual violence activism, the 1970s included the first anti-rape efforts on campus. This third peak built off of the first (late 1800s) and second (1940s-50s) peaks of activism led by black women, such as Lucy Smith and Ida B. Wells in the late 1800’s and Rosa Parks and Recy Taylor in the 1940s and 1950s. In the 1970s, UMD students worked to create a campus Rape Crisis Center, a Women’s Center, and a Women’s Information Center in collaboration with partners across campus. Student activists have been participating in rallies like Take Back the Night since the 1970s and the Clothesline Project since the 1990s

The “300 March Against Rape” article from the Diamondback reports on UMD’s first Take Back the Night march, which the campus Women’s Center organized in November, 1979. In 1980, the Student Government Association bought and began distributing rape whistles, along with “rape-prevention literature,” in response to the rapes of two women during the Fall 1979 semester. It was suggested that those taking the whistles make a 50 cent donation. Several campus advocates, including a member of the Women’s Center, criticized the effort and suggested that the money could have been spent more strategically to raise awareness about rape prevention, as opposed to risk reduction strategies, like rape whistles, which put responsibility on individuals to prevent sexual assault from happening to them, inadvertently supporting victim-blaming ideology. Since the 1980’s a conscious effort by activists has shifted sexual assault prevention away from putting responsibility on people to prevent assault from happening to them, and now focuses on consent and bystander intervention education.

Article 300 march against rape from the Diamondback
The Diamondback. (November 9, 1979). Special Collections and University Archives. University of Maryland Libraries.
Image of student Sharon Cohen with a box of rape whistles
Student Sharon Cohen shows box of rape whistles at McKeldin Library, 1980.

During the 1990s and 2000s, the dialog on campus turned toward addressing the multiplicity of survivors’ experiences. The Black Explosion article from 2000, reporting on their most recent Take Back the Night, highlights an understanding that the experiences of individuals who have been sexually assaulted and the activists involved are not monolithic.

Community Takes Back the Night headline in Black Explosion from 2000
Black Explosion. (April 27, 2000). Special Collections and University Archives. University of Maryland Libraries.

Due to the continued efforts of student activists, the university created several offices to address power-based violence. In 2002, UMD created The Office of the Victim Advocate, its first office on campus office dedicated to responding to power-based violence. Since then, evolutions in office structure, including the development of a peer program, the creation of a Victim Assistance Fund, a growing staff, and the merging of offices focused on Advocacy and Prevention, has culminated in the Campus Advocates Respond and Educate (CARE) to Stop Violence office. CARE provides free, confidential advocacy and therapy services to primary and secondary survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, and sexual harassment, while simultaneously empowering the campus community to prevent power-based violence through educational presentations, events, and outreach activities. Most recently in 2017, continued student advocacy and cultural and political attention resulted in the creation of the Sexual Assault Prevention Committee, a multi-disciplinary committee of students, faculty, and staff dedicated to coordinating sexual assault prevention efforts on campus.

CARE to Stop Violence service desk

There have been significant changes in how students and administration understand and respond to sexual assault over the past 40 years. When this dialog began, prevention often focused on risk-reduction strategies, like improved lighting and rape whistles. These initiatives place responsibility on individuals to protect themselves, rather than trying to prevent assault in the first place. Today, CARE focuses on providing support services for survivors and educating the campus community on consent and bystander intervention. Focus is also moving toward including the multiple identities and experiences of survivors, rather than framing sexual assault as a women’s issue, which has excluded and silenced many survivors over the years.

Currently, in what is considered the fourth peak of sexual violence activism, the cultural reckoning with the immensity of sexual violence has been overwhelming. As students continue to experience sexual assault at UMD, many survivors choose not to report because of the fears of reliving or extending their trauma. However, changing policy and increased education around sexual assault are bringing more people into the conversation and many members of our campus community continue to dedicate themselves to shifting the culture.

by Clare Kuntz Balcer and Charlotte Sheffield

If you would like to speak to an advocate or want to know more about CARE’s advocacy and therapy services, visit the CARE office in the Health Center Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm (no appointment necessary) or call or text the 24/7 CARE Crisis Cell at (301) 741-3442.

New Exhibit: Banned, Erased, and Dangerous Texts

From compiling lists of forbidden works to burning books, censorship has manifested in many forms over the years. Books have often been the target of censorship, usually by religious and political institutions threatened by ideas that challenge how we view the world.

Inspired by the recent School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures symposium, a new exhibit in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library highlights artists, authors, and texts that have been banned, erased, and branded dangerous throughout history.

In more recent history, repressive regimes like Franco’s Spain and Nazi Germany in the 1930s were notorious for censorship. Authors and artists who expressed ideas contrary to the government were banned and their books outright destroyed.  In Germany and Spain, this included works by Ernest Hemmingway, George Orwell, Franz Kafka, Bertolt Brecht, and others labeled degenerative or subversive.

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Celebrating Women’s History Month with Selections from Literature and Rare Books!

A new exhibit case featuring works by women writers is now on display outside the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library!

Taken from the literature and rare book collections in Special Collections and University Archives, these books represent a variety of genres and styles; from the popular girl detective adventure Nancy Drew #1: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene to the powerful poetry of Baltimore native and abolitionist Frances Ellen Watkins.

Included in the exhibit are the landmark works of mother and daughter Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelly. Wollstonecraft wrote the highly influential, early feminist work A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects (1792). 26 years later, her daughter Mary Shelly penned the horror classic Frankenstein (1818). An early 1796 edition of A Vindication of the Rights of Women is on display alongside a WWII armed services edition of Frankenstein.

Also included is Katherine Anne Porter’s collection of short novels, Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939). The eponymous story is an account of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, which Porter herself was stricken with while working as a reporter in Denver, Colorado. Special Collections and University Archives is home to the Katherine Anne Porter literary archive.

Two works by artist/author Djuna Barnes are also featured: Ryder (1928), and Nightwood (1936), one of the first works of lesbian literature. Special Collections and University Archives is also home to the Djuna Barnes literary archive.

Works by Anaïs Nin, Lucille Clifton, Emily Dickinson, Zora Neale Hurston, Kau Boyle, Virginia Wolf, Flannery O’Conner, Gertrude Stein, and Louisa May Alcott are also on display.

Stop by the Maryland Room to view this colorful and diverse selection of works by women authors. Interested in exploring more works by women? Check out literary special collections, housed in Hornbake Library, or contact us!

Celebrating Black Authors and Poets in Special Collections

To celebrate Black History Month, a new exhibit is on display in Hornbake Library highlighting black authors and poets from our literary collections in Special Collections and University Archives!

On display are landmark 20th century literary works by Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Alex Haley, W.E.B. DuBois, Chester Himes, John A. Williams , and Richard Wright. Also included in the exhibit is poetry by Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, and Ted Joans.

Ranging from signed first editions (Invisible Man, Ellison) to popular trade paperback editions (If He Hollers Let Him Go, Himes), these titles offer a glimpse into the wide variety of African American literature and poetry in our collections.

Also on display is a rare edition of Negro Anthology, edited by activist Nancy Cunard. Published in 1934, Negro Anthology is a collection of poetry, historical studies, music, and other writings documenting Black culture of the era. Artists represented in the book include Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.

Visit Hornbake Library to view these impressive works of literature in person, or visit us online to explore more titles in our literary collections.

Have any questions? Contact us!

Oh Deer, A New Exhibit!

A new exhibit highlighting reindeer illustrations from our Rare Books collections is now on display in Hornbake Library!

On display in the welcome desk area are several natural history books illustrating reindeer, including  Conrad Gessner’s 16th century Historiæ Animalium, Thomas Bewick’s A General History of Quadrupeds , John James Audubon’s The Quadrupeds of North America, and Lewis’s Catechisms of Animated Nature.

Visit Hornbake Library to see these wintertime favorite creatures in person. Be sure to check out our holiday Testudo booktree and pick up a free holiday card from the archives!


In Case You Missed It: A Recap from our Annual Open House

Photos from 2018 Open House Event - Year of Immigration

Last Monday, our lobby was transformed for Afternoon Tea at our Open House.

Our curators selected items from their collections that represent the rich and varied history of immigration in this country. Check them out in the slideshow below:


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Guests loved learning more about Special Collections and University Archives from our  ‘Did You Know’ Fact Cards:


We were grateful for the amazing turn out from our campus community. If you missed it, schedule a tour or an instruction session with us.