UMD Special Collections featured on Netflix series “The Keepers”

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One of the fun things about working at an archive is the great variety of people who send in reference requests. However, often times the reason for their requests remains a mystery. So, when the State of Maryland and Historical Collections Division got a reference request last December for pictures and newspaper articles from the Baltimore News American newspaper about a murdered nun, I didn’t think much of it. Another student worker pulled materials from our photograph collection, and using the dates found on the photos, I went through the microfilm to find related articles. We sent the photos and articles to the patron and I didn’t think much more about the request.

However, a few months later in early May, my supervisor told us that that patron had made a documentary about the murder and the show would be on Netflix! The show is titled “The Keepers” and it investigates the murder of a nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, in Baltimore in 1969. It is comprised of seven, one-hour long episodes. I was quite excited to hear this news and binged-watched the series as soon as I could. I’ll admit that I kept my eyes glued to screen, trying to spot if any of the articles that I had found would flash across the screen. Also, I watched the credits and paused them to take a photo when the Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries appeared on the screen. Continue reading

Phoney Papers, Racket Presses, and Fake News

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Cartoon by AFL-CIO News cartoonist, John Stampone, illustrates both the ILCA and ILPA’s efforts to enforce their ethical standards and stop so-called racket papers from taking advantage of local businesses and unions.

National dialogue has radically changed over the first half of 2017. Phrases like “alternative facts” and concern over “fake news” has been the subject of presidential tweets and investigative reporting. While issues over reputable and authoritative news and information are critical discussions, concerns over the media are not only a thread throughout American history.  It was an issue within the labor movement as well. Continue reading

Maryland Day 2017 in Special Collections & University Archives!

On Maryland Day 2017, Special Collections and University Archives welcomed hundreds of visitors to Hornbake Library for a day of coloring, crafts, exhibits, protests, and most importantly…fun!

Visitors enjoyed Maryland Day favorites like designing their own terrapin, coloring their favorite Sesame Street character, recording a radio commercial with our Mass Media and Culture staff, and snagging with very own crochet turtle bookmark as they heard the story of the real Testudo from our University Archives staff.

We also hosted tours of two exhibits, “The Washington Home of the Philippine Suffrage Movement” and “Frederick Douglass and the Wye House: Archaeology and African-American Culture in Maryland”. Visitors also enjoyed tours of the Katherine Anne Porter Room, which houses the personal library and items belonging to American writer Katherine Anne Porter.

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Special Collections Students at Work: The Baltimore News American Photo Archives

The University of Maryland’s Special Collections & University Archives houses a particularly interesting and highly utilized acquisition in the Baltimore News American collection. Acquired 30 years ago when the News American stopped its presses for the last time, the collection contains subject and biographical photos used in the Baltimore News American family of newspapers from 1904 through 1986. The fully processed section of the collection spans close to 1600 boxes and over 660 linear feet. And that doesn’t even consider the oversize materials and extensive unprocessed boxes which bring the total number of images to possibly over 1.5 million. The numbers are certainly impressive, but you cannot get a scope for how big the collection is until you see entire walls in our archive stacks solely dedicated to the photographs.

BNAboxes_brightMaking this collection more accessible is the work of many hands, including volunteers and student employees. The work often begins by pulling a number of photos, organized in folders, from one of our unprocessed boxes. We collect information from both the folders and the images including the subject, first and last name, number of photos, and relevant dates [when the photographs were taken, or when the images were published in the newspaper]. All the while, the photos are moved into better, safer acid-free folders and boxes and entered into a database of processed images. Also, given the number of people who have processed this gargantuan collection, we take the time to proofread each other’s data entry work.

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Preservation Maryland Open House: A Celebration of 86 Years of Historic Preservation Stewardship and Advocacy

On April 27, 2017, Special Collections and University Archives hosted a Preservation Maryland Open House. I organized the open house as part of my practicum for the Museum Scholarship and Material Culture graduate certificate program with guidance from Maryland and Historical Collections Curator Liz Novara. The Preservation Maryland archives are one of many Historic Preservation collections available for research here at SCUA. This particular collection is significant in that it documents the transition of the nation’s second oldest preservation organization from a model of stewarding historic structures to advocacy of historic preservation. The Preservation Maryland archives, dating back to 1931, document a preeminent force in the modern historic preservation movement.

Housed at Special Collections and University Archives, Preservation Maryland’s archives are an incredible resource for the university’s historic preservation students, the historic preservation community, and anyone interested in Maryland history. These documents are open to the public and you can find out more here.

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Left to right: Maryland and Historical Collections Curator Liz Novara, Jen Wachtel, Communications Director Meagan Baco, Development Director Douglas Harbit, Executive Director Nick Redding, and Engagement Director Elly Cowan posing with Testudo after Jen Wachtel’s welcoming remarks. Photo courtesy of Preservation Maryland.

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Turtles, Terrapins, and Tortoises…Oh My!

A new exhibit in the Maryland Room is all about turtles, terrapins, and tortoises! On display are several illustrated natural history books from the rare book collection held in Special Collections and University Archives at Hornbake Library. They include Nomenclator Aquatilium Animantium (1560), by 16th century Swiss naturalist Conrad Gessner,  along with a variety of 19th century works highlighting the artistry and science of herpetology.

Also on display is Historia Testvdinvm Iconibvs Illvstrata (1792) by Johann David Schöpf. Schöpf was chief surgeon for the Ansbach regiment of Hessian troops, who fought for the British in the American Revolutionary War. After the war, he returned to Europe and published several natural history works.

Nestled among the rare books are a small selection of turtle figures acquired over the years by University Archivist Anne Turkos. These turtle toys, figures, and accessories help decorate every inch of her office with that “Go Terps” spirit!

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3rd Annual Labor History Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon

2017 edit a thon flyerBring your laptop and join a community interested in promoting labor history by editing entries in the popular online encyclopedia. WikimediaDC will be on hand to give a short presentation on how to edit in Wikipedia, and be available with expert help during the editing time. We’ll focus on developing entries related to the Labor History Collections at the University of Maryland, including the AFL-CIO Archives. Participants will receive complimentary issues of Labor’s Heritage journal. No editing experience necessary – Basic computer skills needed – Virtual editors welcome!

Date: Friday, May 5th
Time: 12:00-3:00pm
Location: AFL-CIO Headquarters, Washington, DC
Can’t make it?  Consider editing any time during the month of May with these resources!