New Exhibit: Bookends of the Civil War

When we think about the Civil War, the Battle of Fort Sumter and Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House are usually the events that we often use to mark the beginning and end of the nation’s bloodiest war. But for many soldiers and civilians alike, the Civil War started and finished in Maryland.

The University of Maryland Special Collections and University Archives, with generous funding and support from the estate of Gordon S. McKenzie, has recently acquired documents from Baltimore’s Pratt Street Riot- the site of the Civil War’s first causalities- and Point Lookout prison camp- where many soldiers spent the last years of the war. Highlights of these new collections are currently on display in the Maryland Room in an exhibit called Bookends of the Civil War.

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The Pratt Street Riot

Once the Civil War began on April 12th, 1861, federal troops began marching south from the Northern states to Washington, D.C., where they would begin the campaign to bring the rebellious South back into the Union. Just a few days later on April 19th, violence broke out as members of the Massachusetts militia made their way through Baltimore, a city known for its support for slavery and secession. By the end of the day, four Union troops and twelve Baltimore civilians lay dead- the first causalities of the war.

The “Pratt Street Riot” had immediate impacts on Maryland citizens that they recorded in letters to family members and friends, many of which can be found in the new Pratt Street Riot Collection. Shortly after the riot, news spread of a terrifying new weapon, the Winans Steam Gun, which had been built by Ross Winans in order to oppose further Union troop movements in Maryland. Although it was later revealed that this gun was not nearly as effective as conventional canons, it was still featured in newspapers across the country. The Steam Gun was captured by Union troops near Ellicott Mills (today Ellicott City), as it was being taken by some Baltimoreans to sell to Confederate forces.

Marylanders with Southern sympathies and Confederates alike reacted strongly to the Pratt Street Riot. According to the Baltimore mayor George William Brown, the riot was the event that pushed the North and South into full-scale war. Maryland native James Ryder Randal was inspired by the death of a friend in the riot to write the song “Maryland, My Maryland,” which soon became a favorite battle hymn of Confederate soldiers and later became the official Maryland state song.

In the wake of the riot, fear of further violence in the Baltimore area prompted Union General Benjamin Butler to declare martial law in the city the next month. Butler’s men constructed a fort at Federal Hill, keeping cannons constantly trained on Baltimore to discourage further secessionist activity. Federal troops remained in the city for the duration of the war.

The Pratt Street Riot Collection contains letters written by Baltimore citizens and observers who discuss the riot and life in Maryland in its aftermath. The collection also contains a handwritten copy of “A Southern Song,” that was written by a Confederate supporter and describes how many pro-Southern Marylanders felt about the Civil War in its first year.


Point Lookout

At “a point of land where the Potomac empties into the Chesapeake Bay,” the U.S. government established a military base at Point Lookout, “where it seemed nature formed it especially for a prison camp” according to Confederate prisoner C.W. Jones. Originally constructed in 1862 as a base and military hospital, Point Lookout grew to become one of the largest Union prison camps of the war.


Point Lookout’s prison camp was built shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. Originally intended to house 10,000 men, the prison camp’s population expanded after thousands of captured Confederate soldiers and sailors were transported to Point Lookout and housed in small tents. Poet and author Sidney Lanier was one such prisoner who recounted his Point Lookout experience in an 1867 novel:

Passing a row of small A tents presently, the corporal looked at his book. “Tent fifteen; think there’s four men in it. Let’s see.” He thrust his head into the low opening. “How many in here?” “‘Bout a million, countin’ lice and all!” responded a voice, whose tone blent in itself sorrow, anger, hunger, and the sardonic fearlessness of desperation.

The Point Lookout Collection contains letters, photographs, and official camp records documenting the experiences of Confederate prisoners, camp surgeons, and Union soldiers stationed at the camp. Prisoners often discussed the details of daily life in the prison camp including the food they ate, illnesses and diseases that spread amongst prisoners, and interactions with guards. Union soldiers and officers commonly wrote about official camp matters, details of nearby battles, and life in and around Point Lookout. Aside from the prison camp, Point Lookout also had a busy military hospital (that even had its own weekly newspaper), a “Contraband Camp” that housed escaped slaves, and a bustling dock that supplied Union gunboats and ships in the area.


For many of the approximately 52,000 prisoners, Point Lookout became the place where the Civil War finally ended. Although death rates in camp were actually lower than in the field, about 4,000 prisoners died due to injury, disease, or poor living conditions in the crowded and inadequately supplied prison. When the Civil War ended in 1865, surviving prisoners were released after they signed an official oath of loyalty to the United States (one can be seen in the exhibit). The last prisoner was released in July of 1865.


The Point Lookout Collection consists of dozens of letters from Union and Confederate soldiers and sailors, diaries and scrapbooks, official camp records, photographs, and over twenty issues of the “Hammond Gazette,” the newspaper published by Point Lookout’s hospital each week.

Written by Tyler Stump, former Student Assistant in Special Collections and University Archives.

Special Collection Civil War Subject Guides:

American Civil War: Resources in Special Collections

Women and the American Civil War 

Civil War in Maryland: Stars, Stripes and Glory

To find out more information about how our collections can help you explore the Civil War, email us at

Maryland Day at Hornbake: Five Floors of Hands-On History

Saturday, April 25 10 am – 4 pm

From the Ground Floor to the 4th Floor, Hornbake has more than 15 different activities and events for all ages going on throughout Maryland Day. We’re just a few steps away from STAMP, and we’ve got a lot to offer.

Hornbake library is a special collections library and archive.  That means we’ve got books, maps, letters, memorabilia, trophies, and all kinds of unique and irreplaceable records that you just can’t find anywhere else. Hornbake’s collections include key records that document the political, social, and economic history of our state and our university. You’ll find everything from the papers of Maryland’s own famous ex-governor Spiro T. Agnew, correspondenceMDDAYfinale and rare books related to well-known local poets such as H.L. Mencken, to the collection of all surviving issues of UMD’s own student newspaper, The Diamondback. (Check out the LaunchUMD project) We work hard to collect these records so that other people can learn from them, and we’re proud of our library!

So on Maryland Day, we’re throwing open our doors and maybe showing off a little bit. But why not? This Saturday, we have activities and events throughout the building. Connect with our staff and learn more about our library while doing something fun, like painting a (paper) turtle in the lobby, touring the preservation lab, exploring TV board games of the past, or making origami. Be sure to take a look at our new exhibit on the history of the UMD Marching Band, the Mighty Sound of Maryland”.

So check out the complete list of events here at Hornbake, and come see us this Saturday!

Labor History Wikipedia Edit-a-thon


Hornbake Library

Friday, May 1, 1:30 – 4:30 pm

Join a community interested in promoting labor history by editing the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Part celebration and part workshop, Edit-a-Thons are organized around a single topic as a means to build awareness and community.  We’ll draw content from labor-related collections at the University of Maryland, including the recently acquired AFL-CIO Archives. No editing or technical experience necessary. All participants will receive complimentary issues of Labor’s Heritage journal. As part of a nationwide effort, other libraries with significant labor collections will also participate.

Event details:

This event is followed by:

AFL-CIO Archive Reception & Tour, 4:30 – 6:00 pm

George Meany

George Meany

Join us for a unique opportunity to view the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive, a prestigious archive originally at the National Labor College. These rich archives provide a unique history of the labor struggle in the United States and internationally. See behind the scenes in the archives stacks: labor cartoons, buttons, pins, and memorabilia.  Civil Rights and Labor items will be on display in the Maryland Room. In addition, view labor-related materials, including photographs, censored newspaper articles, posters,  and magazines, from the Gordon W. Prange Collection, the largest archive in the world of Japanese print publications from the early years of the Allied Occupation of Japan, 1945-1949.

New Exhibit: Civil Rights and Labor: in the United States, in Poland, and in South Africa

New Exhibit: Civil Rights and Labor…in the United States, in Poland, and in South Africa


Labor unions have long been advocates for equality in the workplace, civil rights and worker’s rights, however this wasn’t always the case before the AFL and CIO merged in 1955.  Understanding civil rights is still evolving today, as we see in current events in the United States and around the world.  The records of the AFL-CIO are a treasure trove, rich with a variety of materials available for research on this.  The University of Maryland is the official repository of the AFL-CIO records.  Find out more about all of our labor collections here.


The Civil Rights Movement in the United States

The exhibit highlights the overlapping interests in equal rights, between the AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department and leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.  In 1961, Martin Luther King, Jr, spoke at the AFL-CIO Convention, and in the same year George Meany sent a telegram to King lauding King’s contributions to advance the cause of equality for all citizens, a goal AFL-CIO fully supported, and went on to say:

It is not mere coincidence that where civil rights are most strongly suppressed, unions are most vigorously opposed.  Nor is it coincidence that where negroes exist under miserable social and economic conditions, wages are lowest for all workers, social legislation least advanced and anti-labor legislation most severe.”

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was strongly supported by Martin Luther King, Jr., George Meany, and President Lyndon Johnson.  And, when King was assassinated, many national and international labor unions poured out telegrams to the AFL-CIO, and a number of press releases were written by AFL-CIO in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  On the night of King’s death April 4, 1968, Meany sent out a press release stating that the “murder of Dr. Martin Luther King is an American tragedy.”

Our collections also include some information about The March on Washington led by Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963. The March was not fully sponsored by the AFL-CIO because of internal conflicts about civil rights.

IMG_3781Apartheid in South Africa

The AFL-CIO’s allied African American Labor Center was involved with the anti-apartheid movement responding to multiple civil and worker’s rights violations in South Africa, however the AFL-CIO did not fully engage until later because of the communist leadership in the anti-apartheid movement.  In 1986, the AFL-CIO participated in a global boycott of Shell Oil Company.


Solidarnosc in Poland

The Polish Solidarnosc movement was strongly supported by AFL-CIO President, Lane Kirkland in the 1980s.  The AFL-CIO International Affairs Department sent monthly contributions of $500 to support the underground union organizers in Poland.  The AFL even sent CARE packages to Poland in 1949 and received handwritten letters of thanks from Polish citizens.

Our labor collections are comprised of AFL-CIO Department records, trade department records, international union records, union programs, union organizations with allied or affiliate relationships with the AFL-CIO, and personal papers of union leaders. We also have extensive photo documentation of labor union activities from the 1940s to the present in the photographic negative and digital collections. Additionally, collections of graphic images, over 10,000 audio tapes, several hundred films and videotapes, and over 2,000 artifacts are available for research and study.

Find out more about all of our labor collections here, or contact a curator for more information!

Media Studies Spring Talks in Hornbake Library

We are pleased to announce an upcoming Spring Media Studies Talk, hosted by UMD Libraries, Special Collections in Mass Media and Culture, in Partnership with Media Studies at Catholic University of America.

Join us on Wednesday, April 22nd at 4:30pm, 4th Floor, Hornbake Library North for a talk by Victor Pickard, Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania titled “America’s Battle for Media Democracy: Past and Present”.


More information about Professor Pickard can be found online. Contact us at with any questions.

Women’s History Month: Navigating Women’s History at Hornbake

March is Women’s History Month, and for researchers and scholars looking for primary source material on Women’s History, Hornbake Library contains a wealth of information. Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has a particularly strong focus on nineteenth-century women, women in the 1970s, women in Maryland politics, women in athletics (university and nationwide), and women in broadcasting.

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Liz Novara, Curator for Historical Manuscripts at SCUA, has recently made available a new LibGuide on Women’s Studies. The LibGuide is a valuable resource to navigate the wide variety of primary and secondary source material available at Hornbake and allows researchers to navigate collections by distinguishing between primary and secondary sources, digitized material, subject areas, and relevant social media posts. Recently, SCUA also acquired a collection of political buttons illustrating key organizations and issues involved in women’s civil rights movements, such as Education, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the American Association for University Women.

Women buttons

This resource is in addition to two additional guides to women’s resources in SCUA: Women in Maryland and Women and the American Civil War. These LibGuides emphasize material available in the University of Maryland Libraries’ collection, but general Internet sources are also included. Hornbake library houses collections from the American Association of University Women, the League of Women Voters, and individual papers collections of Maryland women politicians. These collections are especially useful for researchers looking to focus on women’s political and civic activism in Maryland.

Links to LibGuides:

Women’s Studies 

Women in Maryland

Women and the American Civil War 

To find out more information about how SCUA’s collections can help you find out more about Women’s History, email us at


Labor Studies Symposium and Labor-related materials in the Prange Collection

Originally posted on Gordon W. Prange Collection:

Organizing_for_Power_and_Worker's_Rights_March2015 click to enlarge

On March 5, the Center for the History of the New America at the University of Maryland will host a symposium entitled, “Organizing for Power and Workers’ Rights in the 21st Century.”  Symposium participants will be invited to visit Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) at the University of Maryland to tour the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive and view a display of labor-related materials from the Prange Collection.  Acquired by SCUA in 2013, the AFL-CIO Archive includes over 40 million documents and is the largest single donation to the UMD Libraries.  The Archive complements the many labor-related holdings in SCUA.

The symposium will provide an opportunity to showcase a selection of labor materials in the Prange Collection, including materials on labor laws, labor practices, trade unionism, and labor education during the Occupation of Japan.  Below are examples of the types of materials that will be on…

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New Exhibit: Recent Acquisitions to the Association for Childhood Education International Archives

Stop by the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library and take a look at some of the new items on display!



The Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) exhibit is sure to recall fond childhood memories, from books like The Tale of Peter Rabbit, dolls from around the world, and all kinds of puzzles and toys. The highlight is every young girl’s dream – a 19th century doll’s trunk, complete with a collection of handmade clothes and accessories. But be careful what you say in front of the wax doll from 1885 – she’s enduring, and maybe a little frightening in the dark!


But the ACEI archives has even more to offer than cursed dolls and lost childhood dreams. The Association for Childhood Education International was founded in 1892 to promote early childhood education and its collection includes a variety of potential resources for research. Whether you’re looking at the history of common issues in education such as classroom diversity, multicultural education, social development, or the role of technology in education, you will find a varied collection of books, archival material, journals and publications, audiovisual tapes, recordings and cassettes, as well as a wide array of memorabilia like the ones on display.


On your quest to demystify the virtues and struggles of childhood, you might listen to recorded speeches by the well-known critic Neil Postman, read out-of-print children’s books, research articles and publications on popular issues in education, admire dolls and toys from all over the world, or tune in to Macaroni at Midnight. You’ll find it all available for research in the Maryland Room.

Take a look at the ACEI archives finding aid to explore the collection, or contact a curator to find out more!


National Comic Book Day!


Thursday, September 25th is National Comic Book Day. Read more about the great comic book collections in Hornbake Library.

Originally posted on Gordon W. Prange Collection:

BLOG_ComicsSeptember 25th is National Comic Book Day!  It’s a great opportunity for us to bring the 2,000 comic books in the Prange Collection to your attention.  They have all been digitized and are available in the Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection (please note that due to copyright restrictions, full-text access is limited to the University of Maryland, College Park campus or onsite at the National Diet Library of Japan).

In the Collection, you will find familiar titles, such as:

  • Metoro porisu ” by Tezuka Osamu (Prange Call Number: 466-064)
  • Norakuro sannintabi”  by Tagawa Suiho (Prange Call Number: 475-071)
  • Sazaesan” by Hasegawa Machiko  (Prange Call Number: 461-002)

See this blog post for the recent discovery of a comic book written by Komatsu Sakyo, a well-known science fiction writer, in the Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection.   The discovery made national news in Japan.

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The Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection

Originally posted on Gordon W. Prange Collection:

BLOG_Children'sBookCollectionThe Prange Collection contains nearly 8,000 children’s book titles — including picture books (ehon), comic books (manga), and story books (yomimono) — that were published in Japan between 1945 and 1949.  Most of the picture books and comic books are available in the UMD Libraries’ Digital Collections.  The story books and other resources for children have been scanned and are being added to Digital Collections systematically.  Please check the site frequently for newly added books!

Due to copyright restrictions, full-text access to the children’s books is limited to the University of Maryland, College Park campus.  When accessing the books offsite, a thumbnail of the front cover and the bibliographic information only are available.   

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