The Genealogy of Privilege

I’ve been a fan of Henry Louis Gates’s programming since he launched African American Lives in 2006. In Gates’s programs, he introduces celebrities to their past through various documents and photographs. I find the most compelling work to explore lesser … Continue reading

Apple of My Eye: Lead Pesticide Use in 1920s Orchards

Over the Christmas holiday, I unearthed a small journal with a heavily damaged tooled vegetable-tanned leather cover. Within were pre-printed dated pages with intermittent journal entries by my great-grandfather Hugh Ross Stephens, the Orchardist (according to the 1940 census) at … Continue reading

Maryland Preparations for the Sick, 1881

‘Tis the season for illness. Cooking tomes of the past often included a chapter of recipes to be made for the ill and infirm. Certainly, our need for something comforting remains, but general folklore shared today mentions chicken soup, ginger … Continue reading

Thanksgiving, Sauerkraut, and the Railroad

Marylanders, love it or hate it, serve sauerkraut at Thanksgiving (see a previous post on the subject here). I particularly like the tang of fermented cabbage to break up the richness of the other dishes on offer. I’m curious how … Continue reading

Doors Open Baltimore – This Saturday, October 25

After my last post about the decay of Baltimore progressive civic icons from the 19th century, Doors Open Baltimore celebrates the industrial past that made it possible this Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 10am-4pm. Fascinating physical industrial heritage spanning from … Continue reading

The Zoo, the Park, and a Baltimore Befuddlement

I’m not an expert on Baltimore, by any means. I’ve never lived there. I was born in Towson and grew up in Carroll County. But Baltimore was my first exposure to City and all that big “C” entails. The redeveloped … Continue reading

Maryland Material Culture: Bushel Basket

Quiz: What does a bushel basket signify to a Marylander? Sure, you can put fruit or vegetables in it (it is pick-ur-own strawberry season), but Marylanders most want to see this lined with newspaper and stuffed with steamed crabs, caked … Continue reading

Transportation Tuesday – B&O Centenary Pageant, 1927

Ladies in nymph-like attire twirling and leaping through fields – sounds like the turn of the century pageantry movement to me. The Centenary Pageant in 1927 for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad is a rather late occurrence of this type … Continue reading

On Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the descendant of Decoration Day, when the graves of Civil War casualties would be marked in memory. Today, we use the holiday to remember all veterans’ service, letting the day encroach on Veterans Day, where all US … Continue reading

Transportation Tuesday: Fundraising for Railcar Restoration

Kudos to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad as they restore Western Maryland Railway’s Pullman Business Car #204. Built in 1918, it has spent the last 50 years as a residence near Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland. Many foundations focus … Continue reading