Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Maryland Libraries is home to political collections such as the Spiro T. Agnew papers, the Theodore R. McKeldin papers, the Daniel Brewster papers, and the Hervey Machen papers, which contain information and interesting perspectives on local, national, and international events. One such event documented in these four collections is the effort of Marylanders to assist in the relief of Italians flooded out of their homes fifty years ago this month. In early November 1966, much of north-central Italy was inundated by flood waters. As many as 300 people may have been killed, up to 50,000 farm animals were drowned, and countless shops and buildings destroyed (1). Refugees sought shelter in makeshift housing. The cities of Florence and Venice were especially hard hit. Devastatingly, the great concentration of art, architecture, and cultural heritage found in Florence was subjected to flood waters that reached 22 feet high in some places. The National Library of Florence was underwater. Astride the Arno River, the Ponte Vecchio, which dates back 2300 years to Roman times, had been badly damaged.
The Baltimore News American collection includes photographs of the Italian floods of 1966. Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
The response to the 1966 flood in Florence was decidedly international, as Americans Continue reading
Welcome to the Maryland Room!
Have you ever visited the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library? Are you intimidated by the glass walls and reading room rules? We’re here to help! The Maryland Room, located on the first floor of Hornbake Library is the reading room for Special Collections and University Archives at UMD. If you want to take a look at books or documents from our collections, all you have to do is visit the Maryland Room and our staff will help you find what you need. From 15th century rare books to modern records of the AFL-CIO, there’s so much to explore!
We welcome students, faculty, visiting researchers, and the general public to visit. The Maryland Room is generally open 10am-5pm Monday-Friday, with extended hours during the semester. You can view our current hours online.
Unlike McKeldin Library, where you can wander the open stacks and check out books, The materials in Special Collections and University Archives are located behind closed stacks and do not circulate.
When you visit the Maryland Room, a staff member will retrieve the materials for you. Why the difference? Items in our collections are rare, one-of-a-kind, and often in fragile condition. To ensure these materials are safeguarded and accessible for years to come, there are some rules you will need to follow when you visit us.
Visiting the Maryland Room
This year October 5th is “Ask An Archivist” Day! For us, Ask an Archivist Day usually means fielding questions from the public about what life in an archive is like.
However, this week a group of student archivists working at the University of Maryland’s Special Collections and University Archives are taking this time to start a conversation about the nature of archives more broadly. This “Ask An Archivist” Day, they are asking: “Can I break the archive?”
In the 2009 article published in Archival Science, Jeannette Bastian concludes that, “a cultural expression has no end; it is always becoming something else.” In one sense, this is intuitive: there is “culture” all around us and it is constantly evolving. This ceaseless evolution is exactly what can make the dinner table at Thanksgiving so uncomfortable. After all, having so many generations in one place is bound to cause friction. But, it’s not just “culture” that’s evolving. It is all the things that culture entails. The objects, documents, and evidence of culture–typically the stuff of archives–is itself bound to the constant flux of relationships and activities that frame and contextualize their existence. We tend to think of archives as evidence of a distant past that are static. Safe in their archival boxes, nothing can harm or change the objects that have been chosen to represent the past.
Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library is home to a wide array rare and unique literary collections. From personal papers of authors and poets to early printed works, our collections cross a variety of subjects and time periods in the literary world.
Below are some highlights from our archival literary collections in Hornbake Library:
- Katherine Anne Porter papers
- Personal papers of American author Katheriane Anne Porter (1890-1980), best known for her short stories and novel Ship of Fools (1962).
- Djuna Barnes papers
- Personal papers of avant-garde American writer and artist Djuna Barnes (1892-1982), best known for her novel Nightwood (1936).
- Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven papers
- Personal papers of avant-garde artist and poet Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-1927). She is associated with Djuna Barnes and the Dada movement.
- Ernest Hemingway collection
- A large portion of the collection consists of serials that include stories and nonfiction written by and about Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961). It also includes some original correspondence to and from Hemingway. In addition, there are manuscripts and proofs of Hemingway’s work and biographies of Hemingway.
- Literary First Appearances
- Periodicals containing the “first appearance,” or first public dissemination, of many noteworthy 20th century literary works.
- French Pamphlet Collection
- Approximately 12,000 pieces dating from 1620 to 1966, covering many key episodes in the history of France. The largest part of the collection is made up of 7000 pamphlets from the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras, 1788-1815.
- African American Pamphlet Collection
- 20th century materials on African, African-American, and Caribbean culture and literature. The collection spans the years 1905-1979, although the majority of the pamphlets date from the 1960s and 1970s.
Rare Book Collections
Our rare book collections contain books printed from the 16th century to modern times. Most are searchable in the online catalog. Below are some highlights from the collection:
- German Expressionism collection
- Contains serials and books that reflect German Expressionism, a culural, literary, and artistic movement that began in Germany prior to the First World War.
- William Morris collection
- Works by 19th century British author, socialist, designer and founder of the Kelmscott Press, William Morris (1834-1896).
- Eikon Basilike
- Guide to the Eikon Basilike and related materials held by Special Collections and University Archives
Want to learn more? Explore our literary special collections online or visit the Maryland Room to speak to a librarian. You can also contact us via email.
Follow us on Instagram and Twitter for updates and images from our collections.
Think the current presidential election campaign has been unusual? The new exhibit in the Maryland Room of Hornbake Library explores some of the strange techniques that presidential candidates have used to appeal to voters across much of American history. Candidates (or their spokespeople) have spread serious ideas and spurious notions; built interest from specific demographics of people; sought the support of parties and coalitions of parties; and deployed advertising to increase public visibility and name recognition.
The documents and artifacts in this exhibit date from the 1830s to the 1980s, and are drawn from a variety of collections available for research in the Maryland Room. These include the Spiro T. Agnew papers, the James Bruce papers, the Joseph Tydings papers, the archives of the National Organization for Women (Maryland Chapter), the Rare Books collection, and the Marylandia collection.
Items of particular interest, perhaps, are the autograph letter signed by Senator John F. Kennedy after his nomination by the Democratic Party in 1960, and two official White House photographs, which separately depict Vice President Spiro T. Agnew and President Ronald Reagan. But, then again, there’s the 1932 poster for Franklin D. Roosevelt which promoted “Beer Instead of Taxes.”
Visit these and more in the Maryland Room through the end of October.
In honor of the exhibit “Heavy Metal Parking Lot: The 30-Year Journey of a Cult Film Sensation”, now on display in the Gallery of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, Special Collections is highlighting the expansion of our materials related to local, DIY and underground media. In the latter half of the 20th century, the Maryland/D.C. area gave rise to a number of unique radio, film and music scenes that were largely documented through the DIY efforts of their participants, and the University of Maryland is playing an important role in preserving their histories. The photos, flyers, articles, fanzines, and sound and video recordings that survive in these collections show how local arts communities thrived through the creativity of the people they inspired.
Located across from the circulation desk in the Performing Arts Library, two large display cases showcase items from Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) and Special Collections in the Performing Arts (SCPA). The SCUA case includes highlights from the WMUC Collection, and the recently acquired Jeff Krulik Collection, and the SCPA case includes highlights from the John Davis Photograph and Poster Collection, the D.C. Punk and Fanzine Collection, the Sharon Cheslow Punk Flyers Collection and the Jason Farrell Collection.
By Margot Willis, Labor Collections Volunteer
In 2013, the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) donated the entire holdings of the George Meany Memorial Archives to the Special Collections and University Archives Department of University of Maryland Libraries. This collection contains the most important documentation of the history of America’s largest federation of labor unions, founded in 1955. Comprising over 20,000 linear shelf feet of a wide variety material, including documents, photographs, audiovisual materials and artifacts, it represents the single largest donation of archival material to the University to date.
Until this summer, the artifacts portion of the AFL-CIO collection had gone almost entirely untouched by university archival staff due to other higher priorities. Packed away in the same bubble wrap and cardboard boxes in which they were transferred to the University three years ago, the AFL-CIO artifacts sat in out-of-the-way corners of Hornbake Library.
Back in April, when I first spoke with University of Maryland Labor Archivists Jen Eidson and Ben Blake about a possible volunteer project over the summer, I mentioned that I have an interest in museum studies, and would like to learn more about the care and organization of artifacts in an archive. Because they needed immediate help in verifying identifications and locations of AFL-CIO artifacts in anticipation of an upcoming exhibit and due to the fact I was willing to work for free, they granted my wish and set me to work.
I worked wherever there were boxes, which happened to be in the very bottom and the very top floors of Hornbake library. Oftentimes, the spaces I worked in were very small, and the boxes very large.
Originally, the plan was for me to go through the boxes, locate each object in the original Meany Archives inventory of over 2500 records and enter the object’s new location in Hornbake. However, after about five minutes on the job, it became clear that the project would be a bit more complicated than that. There were items in the boxes that were not on the spreadsheet. There were items whose accession numbers appeared on the spreadsheet but whose descriptions did not match the items. There were boxes of dozens of items inside other boxes that had not been recorded as being there. The original inventory indicated that some boxes contained certain items, which, upon further examination, were not there at all. In other cases, boxes should have had only one object, but ended up containing six.