Making the case with Case Maker

Studying primary sources allows us to discover information about the past. A primary source might be anything from correspondence to photographs to newspapers and diaries. Primary sources are extremely useful not just for projects, but provide us a way to understand the history more deeply and personally from those that came before us.

Casemaker website homepageWhen visitors come into the Maryland Room, they use primary sources to help with their research projects.  Researchers pour over material, thinking critically about what the material is and what answers it can provide. Critical thinking and inquiry are crucial tools when conducting a research project that involves archival material and primary sources.

These sophisticated research skills are being introduced to children earlier than ever. Case Maker is one of the tools educators can use to help middle school students begin to develop their critical thinking skills. Continue reading

Student Art History Projects

Have you ever wondered what life was like on UMD’s campus during the Vietnam War?  Or how our university handled sexual assault cases throughout the decades?  How did the Civil Rights Movement impact our campus?

Well, look no further because these five fabulous art history projects have all that information and more!

In the fall of 2018, the students in ARTH260 produced a variety of projects about activism, sexual assault gender inequalities and other important topics using research found in Special Collections.  Among these creations were four websites and a video.

Each group project was accompanied by a mixture of art, whether it was paintings, photographs or decorative flyers plucked from our very own archives, and extensive information each group researched for their topics.

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The homepage of “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.”

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” discusses the double-standards that women experience during their education and in the workforce.  Using yearbook photos from our archives and speaking with students, the website highlights sexist standards women are given — particularly in the mathematics and scientific fields — while men are provided with different guidelines to follow. Continue reading

Why does it take so long to digitize everything?

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to, oh, let’s say, seven months ago.

On the night of Sept. 2, 2018, the National Museum of Brazil was engulfed in flames.  Several historical an irreplaceable artifacts that called the museum home were lost forever.  The world mourned such a massive loss of our civilization’s rich history.  The tragedy sparked concern for other historical artifacts and ways to make sure that something like this never happened again.

Right after the devastation, the idea of preserving historical artifacts through digitization was brought up.  It certainly didn’t go unnoticed by our students here at UMD especially with all of the artifacts and collections stored in our very own Special Collections at Hornbake.

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Our Digitization Services room located in Hornbake. (Photo courtesy of http://www.lib.umd.edu/dss/services/digitization.)

Here’s the thing: the university has been very active in trying to preserve the histories of both the school and the state of Maryland for many years.  After all, the university suffered a similar fate 107 years ago.

So why aren’t we trying to digitize our archival materials faster?  We don’t know what will happen at any given time.  So… what’s the hold-up?  

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May Day in the Meany Labor Archives!

Today is May Day! Also known as International Workers’ Day. May Day is considered an international labor holiday. This post highlights some of the materials in our collections related to May Day. Much of our May Day material can be found in the May Day, 1885-1986 folder in the vertical file collection, and the Haymarket folders in the Morris B. Schnapper collection!

May Day was created by a resolution initiated by American Socialists at the International Socialist Congress in Paris, France, in July of 1889. The purpose of May Day was to gain support for an eight-hour work day. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada, precursor to the American Federation of Labor, and the Knights of Labor cooperated in preparing for a general strike in U.S. cities on May 1, 1886. And on that day, approximately 350,000 American workers went on strike, impacting over 11,000 businesses. Although workers in New York, Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, and other cities participated, Chicago was widely considered the center of May Day agitation, largely due to Chicago being one of the few cities with broad union and radical solidarity in support of the eight-hour day.

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“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.

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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.
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