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.
UMD Special Collections featured on Netflix series “The Keepers”
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.
Making 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.
Frederick the Great and His Court: Appearances can be deceiving
This is the sixth and final post in a series retelling Luise Mühlbach’s Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court), originally published in serial form in Germany and later reprinted by the Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent in 1858. Jill Fosse of the Division of Digital Systems and Stewardship has been translating the story from Der Deutsche Correspondent for our enjoyement. At the end of last month, Jill retired after nine years of service to the Libraries. A huge thanks to Jill for, not only her willingness to translate snippets of Der Deutsche Correspondent for us, but for her genuine enthusiasm for the task. I hope you all have enjoyed the fruits of Jill’s labor as much as the staff of the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project has!
Unfortunately for us readers, Jill’s departure means that we’ll be leaving the story right before a masked ball AND a war. Don’t despair! To finish reading the story in German, head over to the January 19, 1858, issue of Der Deutsche Correspondent on Chronicling America. The story continues thru the February 20, 1858, issue and is found on page 1 in the sixth column of each issue. Those of us who require an English translation can access a copy through Project Gutenberg and resume the story in Book III, Chapter IX, “The Masquerade.”
Frederick the Great and His Court: Kings don’t cry
This is the fifth post in a series retelling Luise Mühlbach’s Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court), originally published in serial form in Germany and later reprinted by the Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent in 1858. Jill Fosse is translating the story from German for our enjoyment.
In the last installment, three men summoned by Frederick had just arrived, although their purpose wasn’t revealed until now…
“The emperor of Austria is dead. What use can we make of this?” Friedrich is bent on retaking Silesia, which Austria wrenched away from his ancestors. They swore revenge, and Friedrich can be that avenger.
“Are you ready to help and give me advice in this quest?”
“Yes!” they roar. The king then brings out the battle plans he has been working on. He has also prepared a document to publish to the people, justifying the war to win back lands from the Austrians. The three men are sworn to secrecy.
Further consultations on war plans leave the king pumped and ready to avenge Prussia’s treatment by Austria as a constantly snubbed vassal. He also feels the need to do something heroic, to earn the love and respect of the people. And he wants fame. He can only get all this on the battlefield, as he tells his friend Jordan, who swears undying loyalty to him. But Friedrich is alarmed at his old friend’s appearance—he looks close to death.
Friedrich is gloomily staring out of the window, self pityingly musing on how lonely is the life of a prince, with few friends—and those may be dying. At that moment Jordan comes back with the sad news that the king’s friend Ulrich Friedrich von Suhm has indeed died and hands the king Suhm’s last letter. This is the last straw, and after reading the letter the king bewails his terrible loss and sheds bitter tears. He then pulls himself together and says that death can no longer have any hold over him. He will not die in battle as death has taken his friend in his place.
Poor Fredrick. I guess it really is lonely at the top, but I suspect the king won’t be down for long with a war to think about. Frederick’s plan kicks into action in the next post.
Frederick the Great and His Court: Return of the king
This is the fourth post in a series retelling Luise Mühlbach’s Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court), originally published in serial form in Germany and later reprinted by the Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent in 1858. Special thanks to Jill Fosse for translating the story from German as it was published in Der Deutsche Correspondent.
In today’s post, we finally meet the namesake of the story, Frederick the Great.
At the palace of Rheinsberg, the king has returned. He locks himself in his library, ignoring even his favorite flute, and busies himself with maps and plans, astrolabes and land surveyors.
While courtiers worry over what the king is up to, he himself is preparing to take the part of Brutus in Voltaire’s Death of Caesar. However, he is suddenly felled by a fever and takes to his bed. His doctor has no idea what to do to help, except—there is one possible remedy but he cannot not give it to the king as its safety and efficacy has not been tried out yet on a lesser mortal. The doctor and the king tussle back and forth over the medicine, the king insisting on trying it, the doctor hesitating. It is a brown powder from Peru that the Peruvians call quinine. Several courtiers come into the room, wanting to relay important news.
It appears that Emperor Charles IV has died.
“Oh, such a fuss about such unimportant news,” says the king, lying back on his pillows. “It just means that Maria Theresa is now Empress of Germany [sic]. That’s all and it doesn’t concern us. But, it is also important that the king should be completely well when he hears this news. It should not be said that the news made me ill. Give me that powder!”
Once again the king and the doctor argue about the quinine, but of course the king wins and takes the powder. Now he feels totally restored and ready to enjoy the festivities of the play the court is about to perform. He gets up, dresses, dictates three letters requesting the immediate presence of certain powerful men at his court, then goes to the music room and his waiting court, where he is the life and soul of the party, playing his flute better than ever, and ignoring the news about the emperor’s death.
The next day, the three important men arrive at the palace…
Cliffhanger! Who are these three important men that Frederick has summoned to his court? And what is Fredrick really up to?
Frederick the Great and His Court: Fashion forward
This is the third post in a series retelling Luise Mühlbach’s Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court), originally published in serial form in Germany. Jill Fosse from the Libraries’ Division of Digital Systems and Stewardship is translating the German text as it was published in 1858 in the Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent.
When we last left them, the happy(?) couple was en route to see Pricker, the court tailor, so that Caroline could purchase outfits for her presentation at court during the king’s masked ball.
The bride is to have a sky-blue velvet gown with silver brocade train for the presentation and a velvet and gold gown for the ball made of fabric her father had obtained from India. Mutual compliments ensue about the honor each side will gain from these beautiful garments, only they have to be ready in a week.
“In four days if necessary,” says the tailor airily, measuring Caroline with his tape.
Then comes the blow.
“I’ll leave all the decorations up to you,” says Caroline, “but of course the dress must be made in the very latest French design.” In horror, the tailor whisks the tape away from the bride’s waist.
“You want what?”
“Of course,” smiles Catherine. “No elegant and decent tailor would still make those heavy skirts with ruffles, it’s ridiculous. No, I want the tight waist and long points, with sleeves to the elbows and lots of lace—the French fashion!”
Pricker declaims his loyalty to tradition, how he would only make clothes in the German style and cut and would never betray his forefathers, generations of court tailors.
With a mocking bow, therefore, the Count and his lady take their leave of this “excellent tailor and complete fool.”
Poor, Tailor Pricker, punished for his loyalty to German tradition! But in Caroline’s defense, I suspect I also would have preferred French fashions to German…
In the next installment, the story switches gears, and we’re introduced to the namesake of the story, Frederick the Great.
Frederick the Great and His Court: A marriage of convenience
This is the second post in a series retelling Luise Mühlbach’s Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court), originally published in serial form in Germany and later reprinted by the Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent in 1858. Special thanks to Jill Fosse from the Libraries’ Division of Digital Systems and Stewardship for providing the translation from German. In the previous post, Jill introduced us to the characters of Miss Catherine Orguelin, daughter of a wealthy merchant, and her fiancé, the heavily indebted Count Rhedern. Catherine says that she and the count need to share an understanding about the nature of their relationship.
Caroline lays it all out for the count. She isn’t deceived by his conventional protestations of love and devotion, although she gives him credit for acting. She knows she’s not young and pretty enough to attract him by herself, but she also knows he’s flat broke and in need of a rich wife. She states frankly that she would do anything to be able to be near the king, with whose nobility, magnificence, benevolence and flashing eyes she fell in love at his coronation. So on that day, she decided to marry one of the courtiers who surrounded the king. Most were married, but Count Rhederer was not, so she went to her father and said,
“I want to marry Count Rhederer. Buy him for me, the way you recently bought me that gold and diamond Nuremburg jewelry.”
“Very flattering,” murmurs the count.
In addition to her one-million thaler dowry, Caroline’s father will give her another million, which stays in his company but she can draw on the interest. She makes it very clear this is her money to do what she likes with. Maybe she’ll spend it on the count if he behaves, maybe not.
The count is enchanted by the idea of a second million, but Caroline warns him that his 1,000 thaler per month can be withdrawn in an instant if he fails to show respect to her, her father, or his bourgeois friends. He promises to be a good husband and son-in-law. She goes on to remind him that she has bought him and knows his worth but also wants to be treasured and respected by him, and he should never think he has conferred an honor on her by making her his countess. Rather, he has married the only daughter and heir of a millionaire who has paid him for his title and entry to court.
The count is unexpectedly delighted and enchanted to be marrying such a clever, spirited, and piquant wife and is convinced that in the fullness of time he really will fall passionately in love with her. She tells him not to bother since she will never fall in love with him.
Who says romance is dead, eh? Look for upcoming posts from the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project that continue the tale of Caroline and her count.
Frederick the Great and His Court: Getting to Know Members of the Royal Court
In the 1800s, it wasn’t uncommon for long works of fiction to be published serially in newspapers and other periodicals. Books were luxury items and inaccessible to many, but periodicals reached a much broader audience. Several renowned authors published in this format—Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Alexander Dumas, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Leo Tolstoy just to name a few.
Serialized fiction was popular in Germany as well, and stories published in German periodicals eventually made their way to the States. The first issues of Der Deutsche Correspondent digitized by the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project contain such a story by Luise Mühlbach, called Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court). To read the story as it was published in Der Deutsche Correspondent, head over to Chronicling America and look for the story on page 1, column 6 beginning January 1, 1858.
Dear Humoristisches: German Romance Advice and Married Life for Charm City
Today’s post is written by Elliott Wrenn, Student Assistant for the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project and MLS candidate in UMD’s College of Information Studies. Many thanks go to Jill Fosse for translating the Humoristisches captions from the original German to English.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we at the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project decided to ask: how did Baltimoreans a century ago write and joke about romance? So we peeked into the cartoon section of Der Deutsche Correspondent, a German-language paper published in Baltimore from 1848-1918.