Women’s History Month: Suffrage Pilgrimages in Historic Maryland Newspapers

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re going to take a look at suffrage pilgrimages that took place in Maryland in the summers of 1914 and 1915.

Back in August 2020, the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project and the Maryland State Archives co-hosted a social media campaign in honor of the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment. Many of the posts created for the campaign came from a newspaper digitized by HMNP in Chronicling America titled the Maryland Suffrage News.

One of HMNP’s Instagram posts for the #MDSuffrage and #MarylandWomenVote social media campaign
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Searching Digitized Newspapers in Chronicling America

Welcome to Chronicling America

A collaboration between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress, the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) awards organizations grants to create state partnerships for newspaper digitization. As a result, state partners contribute digitized newspapers to Chronicling America. As of January 2021, Chronicling America contains over 17 million pages of digitized newspapers that are freely accessible to the public. Newspapers from 48 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico are included in this remarkable collection (check out this map for a visual!). Newspapers in Chronicling America go as far back as 1777, but as seen in this data visualization, most of the digitized newspaper titles were published between 1850 and 1922. For the state of Maryland, the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project at the University of Maryland Libraries partners with other archives, libraries, and historical societies throughout the state to digitize newspapers published in Maryland for Chronicling America.

The citizen. (Frederick City, Md.), 01 March 1895. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89060092/1895-03-01/ed-1/seq-1/>

For the Maryland collection, Chronicling America contains issues from 50 newspaper titles from across the state published between 1840 and 1951. Some highlights from the collection include:

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Holiday Festivities in the Newspapers

It’s the holiday season! Let’s take a look at all the ways people in Maryland have celebrated Chanukah and Christmas over the years found in historic Maryland newspapers from Chronicling America.

Frostburg mining journal. [volume] (Frostburg, Md.), 16 Dec. 1893. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85025350/1893-12-16/ed-1/seq-5/>
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It’s the Holiday Season: Shopping and Advertisements in Historic Maryland Newspapers

Holiday shopping has always been popular. But thanks to the ample opportunities for online shopping, free shipping, early Black Friday deals, and stores opening on Thanksgiving, it’s fairly easy to spot the ways shopping has changed throughout the twenty-first century.

With the COVID-19 pandemic enacting many changes, it’s fair to assume that holiday shopping is going to be a little different this year: Amazon shifted their annual Prime Days from the summer to the fall, Target and Walmart announced store closings on Thanksgiving Day, and many small businesses will continue to rely on curb-side pick-up and online ordering this holiday season. 

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Spooky Celebrations

Evening capital and Maryland gazette. (Annapolis, Md.), 31 Oct. 1921. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88065726/1921-10-31/ed-1/seq-1/>

All Hallow’s Eve, All Hallow Eve, Hallow Eve, Hallow Even, Hallow E’en, Hallowe’en, Halloween, Eve of All Saints’ Day–whatever you want to call it or however you’d like to spell it–is a day with origins dating all the way back to the Celts, and it came to the American East Coast in the 1600s (“Halloween 2020”). More common in Maryland and southern states, Halloween wasn’t celebrated nationally until the Third Wave of Immigration (“Halloween 2020”). Today, many people in the US have come to observe Halloween as a commercial and secular holiday, but the way that people celebrate it may differ by individual or family. We can recognize these differences throughout the years, across the state of Maryland.

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17 million pages in Chronicling America!

This month, Chronicling America reached 17 million newspaper pages! Historic newspaper pages are contributed to the Chronicling America newspaper database by National Digital Newspaper Program partner organizations from all across the country. The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project at University of Maryland Libraries is the Maryland state awardee of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), which is a partnership between National Endowment for the Humanities and Library of Congress.

Image courtesy of National Endowment for the Humanities.
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#MarylandWomenVote: Celebrating the Centennial of the 19th Amendment

The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project (HMNP) here at UMD Libraries teamed up with the Maryland State Archives (MSA) and other cultural heritage institutions across the state to carry out a social media campaign on the Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook platforms to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. We at HMNP wanted our posts to showcase elements of women’s suffrage in Maryland and/or aspects from the broader suffrage movement that were featured in the Chronicling America Maryland newspaper titles. MSA wanted their posts to examine specific stories from the movement in Maryland. By utilizing the same hashtags, our content would trend together on each platform, and we invited others to use the same hashtags during a week long campaign to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment in Maryland earlier this month.

First HMNP tweet to kick off the #MarylandWomenVote and #MDSuffrage campaign on Twitter. Image utilized in post from: Maryland suffrage news. (Baltimore, Md.), 13 June 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89060379/1914-06-13/ed-1/seq-1/>.
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One Small step for Archival Processing, One Giant Leap for the Baltimore News American Collection

For the past year and a half, student employees and volunteers in Special Collections at the University of Maryland’s Hornbake Library have been working to provide researchers with better access to the staggering amount of information contained in the Baltimore News American collection.  After the University of Maryland’s Special Collections and University Archives acquired this collection of subject and biographical photographs, newspaper articles, and microfilm approximately 30 years ago, the daunting task of preserving and processing its 1545 linear feet of materials was issued to several decades of graduate assistants and volunteers.

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UMD Special Collections featured on Netflix series “The Keepers”

The_Keepers_(Netflix_series) (1)

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

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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