Huntingtown High School Connects Past to Present through Archeology

By Patricia Samford, Director, Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab

For the last several years, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum has been working with the Archeology Club at Calvert County’s Huntingtown High School on a project to tell stories about Baltimore’s past.  Students in this year’s club identified and studied artifacts from a privy that was filled with household garbage between 1850 and 1870. In addition to mending pottery and glass and identifying the seeds and animal bones that made up the food remains in the privy, the students turned to land records to discover just whose garbage they were studying.

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An Archeology Club member mends a circa 1850-1860 platter. About 90% of the vessel, decorated with a Greek Revival motif, was present.

Once they learned that the artifacts were discarded by the family of Nathan Mansfield, a collection agent, they became excited to take their research one step further. They decided to find living descendants of the Mansfield family in order to share their project with them.  A surprisingly short session on Ancestry.com (assisted greatly by a rather unusual family middle name!) revealed that the great-great grandson of Nathan Mansfield is alive and well, still selling yachts in Florida at the age of 90!  Through their club leader, Jeff Cunningham, the students contacted Mr. Mansfield.  A history major at Yale, Mr. Mansfield was delighted to learn what the students have been up to this year.

The students will give a presentation on this year’s findings at the Federal Reserve Bank on April 21st.  The bank was built over the site of the nineteenth-century neighborhood block where the bank was built in the early 1980s.

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A Huntingtown student and Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum staff member recover a surface find from a postbellum tenant house. Photo: P. Samford, 2015.

In addition to gaining research and lab experience, the students are also learning about archeological field work. They have been working on documenting and testing a late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century tenant house located on the grounds of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum.  Their goals at this site include completing a state site form and learning more about the lives of African American tenant farmers in the postbellum period.

Beyond the Right to Vote: African American Women of the Maryland Suffrage Movement

By Kacy Rohn, Graduate Assistant Intern

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Augusta Chissell. Photo courtesy of Mark Young.

Stories of the Maryland women’s suffrage movement have been forgotten at many historic sites, but it’s possible to reconnect some of this history through sources like The Baltimore Sun and organizational chronicles of suffrage groups. Though these contain valuable information, they often omit the efforts of African American suffragists and the places where they worked. This erasure is a symptom of a larger divide in the suffrage movement: as racial tensions rose during Reconstruction, many white suffrage groups excluded women of color. Even though Maryland’s first suffrage organization, the Equal Rights Society, was founded by a racially diverse group in 1867, the dominant groups of the 20th century suffrage movement were led by white women who typically distanced themselves from women of color. In turn, African American women in Maryland directed their energies into broadly engaged civic groups that worked to secure the right to vote while tackling other issues, including Jim Crow laws and inadequate public education. Many women of color could not just set these pervasive problems aside and focus exclusively on the vote.

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Augusta Chissell’s home at 1534 Druid Hill Avenue in Baltimore

Typical of this broadly engaged civic activism was the Progressive Women’s Suffrage Club, also called the Colored Women’s Suffrage Club, which emerged in Baltimore in 1915. The Club was closely connected through overlapping leadership and membership to a lineage of African American women’s civic clubs active in the city. Augusta T. Chissell, a Suffrage Club leader, exemplified this far-reaching commitment to reform. She was a vocal supporter of the suffrage movement and continued working hard even after women won the vote to educate and activate new women voters. Her activism was recorded in the pages of the Baltimore Afro-American, where she authored a recurring column entitled “A Primer for Women Voters.” She used the column to answer readers’ questions about navigating their new civic role, including: Should a woman register as an “Independent”? and Where may I go to be taught how to vote? In the years following the suffrage movement, Chissell served as Chair of the Women’s Cooperative Civic League and as a Vice President in the Baltimore branch of the NAACP.

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The cornerstone of the C.Y.W.C.A. building at 1200 Druid Hill Avenue

Augusta Chissell’s legacy survives in her former home at 1534 Druid Hill Avenue, where she lived during her decades of civic activism, and in the former Colored Young Women’s Christian Association (CYWCA) building at 1200 Druid Hill Avenue, where the Suffrage Club began hosting public meetings in 1915. After attaining the right to vote in 1920, the Club used the CYWCA to hold recurring weekly ‘Citizenship Meetings’ for new women voters as well as ongoing lectures on voting and civic responsibility. These sites are located within the Old West Baltimore Historic District but deserve greater recognition for their individual connections to leading women and organizations of Maryland’s suffrage movement. Revisiting these histories and places is a reminder that this movement was a grassroots effort carried by the hard work of women of diverse backgrounds working in parallel to achieve a shared goal.

Remembering Maryland Women’s Fight for the Vote

by Kacy Rohn, Graduate Assistant Intern

From February 7 to 13, 1906, thousands of activists from across the country gathered at the Lyric Theater in Baltimore to galvanize the movement for women’s suffrage. Leaders of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) arranged a busy program of speeches, musical performances, and prayer services that filled the theater. Despite this momentous gathering, our understanding of the Lyric’s historic significance lacks any reference to the women’s suffrage movement (as seen in our documentation of the site). This forgotten milestone is a prominent example of the hidden history of women’s suffrage that exists at many historic sites across Maryland.

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The Lyric Theater as shown in the 1906 NAWSA Convention booklet. Image: Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911 (Library of Congress)

NAWSA members assembled at the Lyric at a critical time. The founding women were aging out of active work and needed new recruits. The convention program reflects NAWSA’s deliberate attempts to attract a diverse body of new activists, pursuing working women one day, college women the next. Notably absent from the range of targeted invitees were African American women, who were also fighting for the vote but were largely excluded from the white women’s movement.

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Image: “Demand the Right to Vote: National Convention of the Woman’s Suffrage Association to Be Held in Baltimore,” The Baltimore Sun. January 7, 1906.

 

Elderly suffragists Clara Barton, Julia Ward Howe, and Susan B. Anthony gathered for their last convention together at the Lyric. Anthony, 86 years old and in failing health, delivered an address on College Night in which she recounted the “long galaxy of great women” who had come before her. She charged the college students to carry on the mission: “The fight must not cease; you must see that it does not stop.” These words were some of the last that she spoke in public before her death that March.

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Program pamphlet cover from the NAWSA convention. Image: Woman Suffrage in Maryland Collection (Enoch Pratt Free Library)

The Maryland women who organized the 1906 NAWSA convention claimed it as the first real success of the state’s suffrage movement and capitalized on this momentum by expanding their work across the state. They continued to campaign for the vote until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Welcome Our New Deputy Director!

The Maryland Historical Trust is pleased to announce that Anne Raines will be our new Deputy Director.  Anne is no stranger to our partners and constituents, since she has served as our Capital Grants and Loans Administrator since 2010.  Her duties have taken her around the state for workshops, site visits, and outreach for the African American Heritage Preservation Program, the MHT Capital Grant and Loan Programs, and the National Park Service Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Grants.

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Anne Raines in Hamburg

Hailing from a small textile town in North Carolina, Anne studied architecture at the College of Design at NC State.  During undergrad, she enjoyed designing projects set in a strong existing context; once, she proposed creating a spa in the old E.B. Bain Water Treatment Plant in Raleigh – an interesting if questionably sanitary adaptive reuse proposal.  Outside of studio, she particularly enjoyed “North Carolina Architecture,” an elective taught by Catherine Bishir, the state’s foremost architectural historian.  This class led to an internship as a research assistant to Catherine and co-author Michael Southern for A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina.  Anne readied maps and documents in preparation for long, lovely days driving the back roads, learning from the two experts while vetting houses, mills, country stores, and churches.  It’s hard to imagine a better first job in the field!  During this time, Anne also reviewed rehabilitation tax credit applications for the North Carolina SHPO, which took her further afield into eastern and western parts of the state and gave her a strong foundation in technical preservation issues.

In 2002 Anne relocated to Baltimore to join Klaus Philipsen, FAIA, at ArchPlan Inc. / Philipsen Architects, a small architecture, urban design, and planning firm, where she worked on both new construction and rehabilitation projects, including Printer’s Square Apartments and the Professional Building in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon.  Her duties ranged from feasibility studies through construction administration, and she could often be found on job sites proudly wearing her bright pink hard hat.

In 2007 Anne and her husband, Eric Leland – also a “recovering architect” – moved to Cornwall, England, to satisfy a lifelong yearning to live abroad.  Eric earned an MA in Illustration while Anne commuted on a charming branch line train to work at Barlow Stott Architects in Truro.  The following year they moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where Anne pursued the MSc in Architectural Conservation from Edinburgh College of Art (University of Edinburgh), the oldest historic preservation degree program in the UK.  While absorbing new vocabulary such as “harling,” “rendering,” and “pinning,” she also learned to appreciate preservation challenges as diverse as ancient stone buildings and modern public housing.  Her thesis, undertaken with the guidance of program leader Dr. Miles Glendinning, focused on the conservation of industrial heritage sites in the Ruhrgebiet area of western Germany.

Upon returning to the US, Anne made it her mission to find a public-sector job in historic preservation, remembering fondly her first job in the field.  Her design school training as a creative problem-solver, as well as her desire to put her skills and education to work for the good of her community, have been the hallmarks of her work at MHT.  Please join us in welcoming Anne to her new post!

A Black History of America in 110 Buttons

By Albert Feldstein, Trustee of the Maryland Historical Trust

In honor of Black History Month, I want to share with you “A BLACK HISTORY OF AMERICA IN 110 BUTTONS: The Events, The Issues, The Organizations, The People.” Derived from my 11,000+ button collection, this poster consists of original buttons related to Black history, from the Scottsboro Boys in 1931 to Black Lives Matter today. Many of buttons stem from advocacy campaigns; a few are controversial and most are self-explanatory. However, historical footnotes describe basic information, relevant dates, names, and when the various organizations were founded

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A special effort was made to incorporate Maryland and Baltimore subject matter. Among these buttons is one from the Maryland Freedom Workers Union which was formed in 1966. Assisted by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Union’s initial purpose was to help organize nurse’s aids, housekeepers, and kitchen staff at a Baltimore nursing home. It spread to other venues, such as small retail establishments, resulting in the sncc-we-shall-overcomeformation of Maryland Freedom Local #1. Another button commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Baltimore based Afro-American Newspaper which was founded by John Henry Murphy Sr., a former slave. It is the oldest African-American family-owned newspaper in the nation. The button depicted here, from 1992, was issued in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the newspaper, which is also popularly known as “The Afro”. Along with its coverage of news and current events, the Afro-American newspaper remains a strong advocate of equal rights, and economic opportunity. All three buttons from the 2015 Maryland History Day Program depicting Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Thurgood Marshall are also portrayed.

I began collecting buttons almost fifty years ago, as a student at the University of Maryland. I was attracted to the graphics and the colorful way these buttons depicted the people and issues that were front-page news at the time. The collection goes all the way back to 1896, when buttons as we know them today were first introduced. In recent years, I realized that, while some of what is portrayed on these buttons is still part of our popular culture, important people and events were being forgotten about by each new generation. Projects like the Black History of America poster represent my attempt to share this knowledge for the future.

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The poster has sold nationwide and has been accepted for exhibit and sale at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. For more information, please visit http://www.blackhistorybuttons.com.

Maryland’s Polling Houses: Vanishing Reminders of Elections Past

By Elizabeth Hughes, Director and State Historic Preservation Officer

On November 8th, Marylanders will cast votes in public places ranging from schools, community centers, and libraries to churches, fire houses, and office buildings. In years past, private homes, stores, and purpose-built polling houses also helped meet this need. Today, the handful of polling houses that survive speak volumes about how local communities have long valued their right and duty to vote on Election Day.

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Nutter’s District Election House. Photo: Wicomico County Historical Society

On the Eastern Shore, the Nutter’s District Election House was built in 1938 as a simple one-room frame structure. Relocated in 1976 by the Wicomico County Historical Society to its current site in Fruitland, it now serves as a museum that houses the Society’s collection of presidential and inauguration memorabilia and political campaign items. In nearby Somerset County, Princess Anne’s Election House was moved to its current location in Manokin River Park in the 1980s. One of the state’s most decorative examples, this one-room structure boasts eave brackets, corner pilasters and (originally) a lath and plaster interior. It has the added distinction of serving its original purpose, as votes are cast here every two years for the Princess Anne town elections.

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Sang Run Election House. Photo: Al Feldstein

In the western part of the state, the unincorporated community of Sang Run in Garrett County is the site of the Sang Run Election House. Reputedly built in 1872, the one-room, board and batten sided structure served the voters of this once thriving lumber town.

Calvert County has, remarkably, retained four of its historic polling houses – the Sunderland Polling House (relocated to the White Hall property), the Old St. Leonard Polling House, the Sunderland Polling House in Huntingtown, and the St. Leonard Polling House. Utilitarian in nature, these one-room structures served the county from the late 19th through the mid-20th century. Most had two doors so that voters could move easily in one door, cast their vote, and exit out the other.

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St. Leonard’s Polling House. Photo: Kirsti Uunila

Calvert County Historic Preservation Planner Kirsti Uunila notes that these structures have an important story to tell as the center of civic life. “These polling houses weren’t segregated – Calvert County’s black and white residents cast their votes together here. Following school integration in the 1960s, the polling houses were abandoned and voting often took place in schools.” Oral histories document that these sites served as important centers of social as well as political activity, with oysters, crabcakes, and fried chicken being sold to hungry voters here on election day.

Although the way in which we cast our vote may have changed, our responsibility has not. As you make your way to the polls this Election Day, remember the story of these humble landmarks….and then go get a crabcake!

Preparing for Future Floods

By Nell Ziehl, Chief, Office of Planning, Education and Outreach

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Hoopers Island

As we turn from Ellicott City’s disaster response to recovery, and watch hurricanes threaten Florida and Hawaii, it’s hard not to think about all the places throughout Maryland that are prone to flooding. We built our earliest towns, cities, roads and rail lines along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. As ports and fishing industries boomed, we developed more. And let’s be honest: we all love to live and play near water.

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Westernport, located on the Potomac

With support from the National Park Service and the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund,the Maryland Historical Trust has hired Preservation Design Partnership, LLC to help us think about how to plan for and adapt historic buildings and districts threatened by flooding from tides, coastal surges, flash floods and sea level rise. Earlier this summer, we accompanied Dominique Hawkins and her team to riverine and coastal communities in western Maryland, Cecil County, Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County, and the Eastern Shore, to try to get a handle on what property owners and local governments face when preparing for floods.

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Mill No. 1 on the Jones Falls in Baltimore City

Before the end of the year, we hope to release a paper to help guide our agency, local governments and partner organizations as we consider how to maintain the integrity of our irreplaceable historic sites while preparing for increased flooding and precipitation. I’m sure we won’t have all the answers, but it will, we hope, be a starting point for a conversation that we look forward to continuing with all of you.