Just in time for Valentine’s Day, librarians have reunited two important local history collections. This week, the acetate film and glass plate negatives, previously cared for by the librarians at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, were transferred to Hornbake Library. Beginning this week, these resources will reside alongside their long lost companion, and one of our most popular collections, the Baltimore News American photo morgue, a collection of over 1 million photographs used during the publication run of the Baltimore’s now defunct News American.
This massive task was undertaken by librarians from Special Collections and our Preservation Department. Thank you to all who helped!
The Labor Heritage Foundation (LHF), an Allied Group of the AFL-CIO, was founded in 1983 by Joe Glazer, Joe Uehlein, and Saul Schniderman. The non-profit strives to promote labor activism through a combination of music, arts, and culture. Donated to the University of Maryland in 2016, the LHF records document decades of labor activities and events including: correspondence with leaders in the labor movement like Pete Seeger and Archie Green, administrative documents, songbooks, photographs, and audiovisual materials.
On June 10, 2002, protesters marched down Constitution Avenue with signs reading “STOP ASHCROFT’S WAR ON IMMIGRANTS” and “ASHCROFT: WHERE IS THE COMPASSION?” These impassioned union members of SEIU (Service Employees International Union) Local 82 called for fair immigration laws and fair treatment of immigrants. This protest came in response to Attorney General John Ashcroft’s statement four days earlier:
“…arresting aliens who have violated criminal provisions of [the] Immigration and Nationality Act or civil provisions that render an alien deportable … is within the inherent authority of the states.” 
Ashcroft delivered this statement in light of the attacks on September 11, 2001, after which President George W. Bush’s administration tightened immigration restrictions in the interests of national security. Ashcroft called this policy a “new war [in which] our enemy’s platoons infiltrate our borders … The vulnerabilities of our immigration system became starkly clear on September 11.” Bush and Ashcroft’s critics, including the SEIU and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) accused the administration of conflating the War on Terror with a war on immigrants in the United States and treating immigrant workers unfairly.
Founded in 1921, the SEIU has a long history of organizing workers in the service industry, including many immigrants. The Labor Collections team selected a photograph from the SEIU’s June 2002 protest in Washington, DC for the exhibit display “Immigrants Get the Job Done” because the SEIU is historically active in support of immigrant worker’s rights. In the photograph, you can see a “Justice for Janitors” banner, referencing one of the SEIU’s most famous campaigns. The Justice for Janitors movement, mainly comprised of low-wage immigrant workers, uses methods such as civil disobedience, in order to achieve social and economic justice, including fair wages, improved working conditions, and better healthcare.
SEIU Local 82 marching against criminalization of undocumented immigrants, June 10, 2002. Photographer Bill Burke. Page One, Photography, Inc. Records. You can see this photograph in person in the exhibit “For Liberty, Justice, and Equality: Unions Making History in America” in person or online.
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.
Originally called Armistice Day, November 11, 1919, was reserved as a day of remembrance for the one-year anniversary of the end of the Great War. Observed since 1926 and celebrated as a national holiday since 1938, now known as Veterans Day, honors all military personnel who have served the United States. This year, America celebrated the 99th anniversary of the day that ended the “War to End All Wars.” Accessible at the University of Maryland Special Collections, the Milton Reckord papers – which includes letters, photographs, newspaper clippings, awards, and memorabilia – affords an opportunity to compare the correspondence of two of Harford County’s very own “doughboys” from Maryland, General Milton Atchinson Reckord, and his younger brother, Colonel Leland Tell Reckord.
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 →
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.