“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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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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The Story Behind a Surprise Find

Measuring less than two inches by one inch, this Baltimore City streetcar ticket was left in a book, presumably as a bookmark. Using convenient items as bookmarks isn’t all that uncommon, right? We use store receipts, gum wrappers, or trusty Post- It Notes to mark our pages all the time, but usually they are discarded once the reader is finished with the book. So, why is this ticket so fascinating? Because it was left as a bookmark for almost 125 years, its survival opens a window into the past.

Photo of a streetcar ticket from the Baltimore and Curtis Bay Railway Company
The Baltimore and Curtis Bay Railway Company ticket
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New Acquisitions in the National Trust for Historic Preservation Library: Adding to the Papers of William J. Murtagh

This past October, the historic preservation community lost one of its champions in Dr. William J. Murtagh. Dr. Murtagh, who served from 1967 through 1979 as the first “Keeper” of the National Register of Historic Places, led the movement and fostered the organization which recorded, approved, and promoted the preservation of historically significant locales throughout the United States. The Special Collections at the University of Maryland libraries is especially proud to house the William J. Murtagh papers, a portion of which has been available since 2004 within the National Trust Library in Hornbake Library.

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