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. For African-Americans whose family heritage has been obscured by … 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

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 Marylander most often associate with a bushel basket? Sure, you can put fruit or vegetables in it (pick-ur-own or picked up at the farmstead), but Marylanders most want to see this lined with newspaper and stuffed … 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

Stripey Runaway Buys 10 Dozen Continental Buttons at a Vendue-Store in 1784

I was playing around on America’s Historical Newspapers, a digital subscription newspaper archive based on the American Antiquarian Society’s collection of historical newspapers. My mother’s family has been based in Harford County, Maryland for almost 400 years. A search on … Continue reading

It’s An “R” Month: Maryland Oyster Pie

Though a chilled oyster sliding down your throat and followed with cold white wine seems perfectly apropos for the summer months, it was only recently that the old tradition “only eat oysters in a month with “R” in it” has … Continue reading

Sauerkraut: It’s Thanksgiving in Maryland

Don’t knock it: sauerkraut is great on the Thanksgiving table. And it’s a tradition that falls almost exclusively within Maryland’s borders. When I moved away for my first job in Boston, I was surprised that Thanksgiving sauerkraut horrified my colleagues … Continue reading