Harriet Elizabeth Brown: “The Quiet Heroine of 1937”

By Michael Gayhart Kent, Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture

Harriet Elizabeth Brown

Harriet Elizabeth Brown

1937 was an explosive year in history.  On May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg airship ignited over New Jersey and crashed to the ground in flames.  The June 3, 1937 wedding of Wallis Simpson to the former King of England also shook the world, dominating the news until the shock of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance over the Pacific on July 2, 1937.  The most earth-shaking event for the black community in Maryland came on November 11, 1937, when Harriet Elizabeth Brown, a Black teacher at Mt. Hope Elementary School, filed a lawsuit against the Calvert County Board of Education.

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An Uncertain Future for America’s Cultural Heritage

By Elizabeth Hughes, Director and State Historic Preservation Officer, Maryland Historical Trust and President, National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO)

As we celebrate Preservation Month and the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, federal funding for historic preservation hangs in the balance.  Since 1976, the Historic Preservation Fund has supported state and local efforts to identify, protect, and enhance historic places that matter to Marylanders. In addition to special competitive grants, the Maryland Historical Trust receives approximately 20 percent of its annual budget from this fund.  Yet the fund’s authorization, supported by a small percentage of offshore drilling revenue, was allowed to expire on September 30, 2015.

Elizabeth Hughes HPF testimony 0215

Maryland State Historic Preservation Officer and NCSHPO President Elizabeth Hughes gives testimony before the House Federal Lands Subcommittee in support of the Historic Preservation Fund in February 2015.

Thanks to the leadership of Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland has positioned itself as a strong champion for preservation.  On April 11, Governor Hogan wrote to Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, which is responsible for the fund’s reauthorization. The governor expressed his support, noting “Reauthorization and extension of the Fund until 2024 will support states and tribes as they carry out the work of the national historic preservation program and would provide certainty for states and communities with historic preservation projects.” Local governments, developers, and private citizens depend on this support to document historic places for the National Register of Historic Places, to take advantage of federal tax credits, and to support local planning, among other critical preservation efforts.

Congress is moving slowly to ensure that there is a future for the Historic Preservation Fund.  The National Historic Preservation Amendments Act of 2015 (H.R. 2817), a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Fund for 10 years, has been introduced by Historic Preservation Caucus Co-Chairs Mike Turner (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D – OR).  A subcommittee hearing on the bill was held in February and co-sponsors on the bill are actively being sought.

Evergreen

Evergreen in Allegany County was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places, a program supported at the state level by the Historic Preservation Fund.

Despite this forward movement, Governor Hogan’s support for reauthorization could not have come at a more critical juncture. Only last month, the House Rules Subcommittee proposed exploring limits on appropriations for programs and agencies whose legal authorizations have expired. The loss of federal preservation funding would be catastrophic to state, tribal, and local programs all across the country.  We hope that with the support of the governor and others, we will still be able to celebrate 50 years of preservation success in 2016, and not mourn a step backward for our nation’s irreplaceable cultural heritage.

Mark your calendar for the 45th Annual Field Session in Maryland Archeology!

By Charlie Hall, State Terrestrial Archeologist

Every year we invite the public to help us investigate a significant archeological site in Maryland. Held in partnership with the Archeological Society of Maryland, this year’s Field Session will be the 45th such opportunity to work side-by-side with some of Maryland’s most prominent archeologists, who guide participants in the use of the most up-to-date archeological methods. In exchange, these volunteers provide the support we need to conduct these important investigations.

River Farm site

River Farm site. Credit: Stephanie Sperling

This year’s Field Session will take us to the River Farm site along the upper Patuxent River in Anne Arundel County. Located at Jug Bay, the River Farm site is at least partially within the flood plain of the river that was damaged during Superstorm Sandy. Jane Cox, Chief of Cultural Resources for Anne Arundel County and this Field Session’s Principal Investigator, has been investigating the site for evidence of storm damage and to devise the means to mitigate future damage. The results of her work indicate that Native Americans occupied this beautiful location for at least 8,000 years, throughout the Archaic and Woodland periods. Over 1,000 ceramic sherds and dozens of projectile points were recovered from a limited investigation involving 131 small shovel test pits and a few larger excavation units. Non-local lithic material may connect River Farm to the near-by Pig Point site, where evidence of ritual mortuary behavior with links to the Ohio River valley has been found.

River Farm excavation

Excavation at River Farm. Credit: Stephanie Sperling

During the upcoming Field Session, at least three areas of the site will be investigated, including:
• a Late Woodland midden that yielded a C-141 date of 1010 AD;
• an area with a Late Woodland concentration that yielded evidence for numerous intact features, including hearths; and
• an Early Woodland concentration with a transitional Late Archaic component.
This will allow veterans of recent Field Sessions to contrast the Late Woodland of the Monocacy River valley with that of the Coastal Plain.

The Field Session will run for 11 consecutive days beginning on Friday, May 27th and ending on Monday, June 6th, inclusive of weekends and the Memorial Day holiday. You are invited to participate for as little as a few hours to as much as the entire 11-days. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required (from the home page, click on “Field Session”).

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX 420

River Farm artifacts. Credit: Stephanie Sperling

A full schedule of lectures and events will also be offered. Among them will be a lunchtime talk by Al Luckenbach on the latest Pig Point discoveries (Sunday, May 29th), and an afternoon guided tour of the Glendening Nature Preserve (Friday, June 3rd). The traditional end-of-session feast will be held on Saturday, June 4th, following the day’s digging. Camping is available on the site, and motel accommodations are available in nearby towns. Watch the Archeological Society of Maryland’s website for developing schedule and details, and we’ll see you in the field!