New members of the Hall of Records Commission were welcomed - The Honorable Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., President of the Senate, and Dr. Whitman H. Ridgway, representing Dr. Donald N. Langenberg, Chancellor, University of Maryland.
Betsy Steele demonstrated the Archives' Web site for Commission members. She highlighted the home page; information available about Maryland government, which includes data from the Maryland Manual and Department of General Services' phone book; and reference services. Ed explained how the Archives can work from a local network without being on the Internet. Thus, working documents are made available to staff for informational purposes.
Ed, along with special guest John P. Hollerbach, Senior Vice President and Controller of First Fidelity Bank, discussed the acquisition of the Savings Bank of Baltimore records, 1818-1960. The Archives presented its acquisition and processing proposal locally on its Web site. A modified version was placed on the Internet, part of which was published in the last issue of the Bulldog. The Savings Bank records are important for the study of the working poor, women, and African-Americans including Civil War veterans. To help with the processing of the collection First Fidelity Bank has made a contribution to the endowment fund. In addition, Mr. Hollerbach has offered to help with the Friends of the Archives group.
Chris Allan and special guest Patrick M. McCracken, Fund Director, Maryland Deposit Insurance Fund Corporation, discussed the appraisal and processing work being done with the records of failed savings and loans and receiverships. Initially MDIF, scheduled to cease operations in 1996, came to the Archives for advise on managing these records, and over time a joint project was developed. The Archives brought in staff to do the work, and the Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning authorized the transfer of one position to the Archives. MDIF is helping to fund the work.
The Savings Bank and MDIF projects are excellent examples of private and public sectors working with the Archives to preserve records and further historical studies.
Ed mentioned other appraisal issues that must be addressed so that vital information is available for future generations. With electronic records the Archives must determine what is valuable and how to preserve it. With imaging there are concerns about access to and retrieval of information.
Besides support from First Fidelity Bank the internship program also is funded by St. John's College which pays the salary of one intern and by the Maryland Historical Trust through a grant for research in African-American history with an emphasis on Baltimore City.
Other topics discussed included the reorganization of the Artistic Properties Commission. The curator position was restored in the FY 1996 budget. The Commission will develop plans to handle administration of the Peabody Art Collection which the state takes over during the next fiscal year. Ed also discussed in more detail how the Archives copes with limited general fund support. He highlighted the volunteer program, especially those in reference, Friends of the Archives which is being strengthened, and Coalition for Maryland History which supports grant projects.
Shirley did her usual fine job of securing a catered lunch and otherwise coordinating preparations for the meeting. The meeting adjourned at 1:45 p.m.
CURATORIAL TRAVELS ABROAD: THE ATTINGHAM STUDY WEEK IN WALES
Over the course of nine days, we visited over twenty-five private homes and National Trust properties throughout Wales, where we were allowed to examine closely a range of objects, dating from as early as the 14th century to the present. The private family homes were most interesting, where the possessions of multiple generations of owners were piled on top of each other, with often the latest descendant showing us through and sharing many family anecdotes. Very few of the homes we visited were supported without some sort of public funding. In several cases, particularly castles, the family was living in private apartments, with the rest of the building open to the public and operated by the National Trust. Many of these "castles" were re-built in the nineteenth century on the ruins of Norman fortresses, and decorated by such designers as A.L. Pugin, and William Burges. As nineteenth and twentieth century Americans glorified their past through the Colonial Revival style, so did the British glorify theirs through a revival (and reinterpretation) of Norman and Gothic design.
The course offered me an excellent opportunity to examine many examples of seventeenth and eighteenth century portraits related to some of the early portraits in Maryland's collection. In particular, I was looking for portraits by the seventeenth century court painter, Sir Peter Lely, who may have painted a portrait of Anne Wolseley Knipe acquired by the Commission on Artistic Property last year. In addition I saw several undocumented portraits of Queen Anne and Henrietta Maria.
Prior to meeting the Attingham group, I spent two days in Staffordshire, England, researching Anne Wolseley Calvert, the woman purported to be in the lead coffin found at St. Mary's City, and the wife of Philip Calvert. I stayed with the current Lord Wolseley, and his wife, at their home, Wolseley Park, which is filled with family portraits and memorabilia. The Wolseleys are most interested in the research concerning their family in Maryland, and have been host to many Calvert relations traveling abroad. Also in Stafford, I met with a local genealogist, Pam Morris, who has been researching the Wolseleys and has proved most helpful in identifying important documents and straightening out the family tree. She and her research group showed me through Colwich Parish Church, the Wolseley parish, where I saw many family tombs, including a lead coffin found beneath the floor containing the remains of yet another mystery Wolseley.
The Attingham Trust sponsors two annual study programs; one a three week course based in England; and the Study Week which focuses on a different region of Great Britain or the Continent each year. Next year's Study Week will be in Scotland.
Aperture cards were delivered to several counties as part of ongoing retrospective plat filming projects. Cards for Baltimore County Condominium Plats, Plat Books 1-11, were delivered to Towson, while the next group of records were prepared for filming. The first installment of early plat books being sent from the courthouse were received in May and initial preparation for conservation treatment and filming was begun. The Calvert County aperture card project was completed this month. Additional plats will be sent to replace those missing from the Archives' collections, as well as plats from the Land Records. Several plat books for Harford County, and additional Allegany and Baltimore County plats were filmed at the close of the month, with aperture cards to be delivered in early June.
There were 18 more vital records requests in May 1995 (255) than in May 1994 (237), up 7.6%. Circulation of district court records increased by a staggering 129%, 476 compared to 208. Requests for records of the circuit courts and other agencies rose only 2.4%, 608 compared to 594.
Overall, the judiciary continues as the largest single user of SLR reference services. While the number of reference requests received from the courts increased by 9.6% (239 compared to 218, overall the judiciary accounted for 26.5% of all requests received, a decrease of 2.8% compared to last year, and for 39.7% of total records circulation.
Requests received by phone again increased in May, accounting for 37.1% of total requests, compared to 32.5% in 1994. Surprisingly, the number of requests faxed to the Archives decreased from 77 in May 1994 to 52 in 1995. Overall, fax requests made up only 5.8% of the May 1995 total, while accounting for 9.5% of the May 1994 total. Fewer requests were generated from the search room (71) than had been the case in May 1994 (89). Search room requests accounted for 7.9% of May 1995 reference activity as compared to 11% in May 1994, a decrease of 3.1%. We also received 38 requests handled in the lobby without requiring the patron to register for the search room.
Clearly, many patrons in both the public and private sectors continued to make use of phone/fax and mail reference services in lieu of in-person visits to the Archives. The number of phone/fax requests (387) just fell short of the number of requests received through the mail (407), and far exceeded those received through in-person visits (109). Phone/fax requests accounted for 42.9% of total requests, with the mail accounting for 45.1%.
Revenue from reference activity was up 42.3%, $7419 compared to $5213.
Economic topics concerned Baltimore merchants and Chesapeake Brewing Co. Another researcher was studying bank robberies in Maryland. Institutional subjects included YMCA, Relay Methodist Church in Baltimore County, and White Hall Fairgounds. Local and regional studies involved Dorchester County, Medley District, Severna Park, Eastport, Harford County, Laurel, and CCC camps on the Eastern Shore.
Political topics included the Annapolis Convention of 1786, Maryland's involvement in the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, and Democratic legislators from Harford County since 1940. Others studies involved U.S. Custom House records, skipjacks, food provisioning of colonial towns, and the first woman judge in each circuit court.
Circulation of records in the search room in May climbed 21.6%, 9872 compared to 8118 in May 1994. Leading the rise was microfilm usage, up 29%, 5955 compared to 4619. Requests for original records increased 12.1%, 2514 compared to 2243. Library usage rose 11.7%, 1403 compared to 1256.
The total number of researchers in May increased by comparable figures, up 19.6%, 1285 compared to 1074. Returning patrons jumped 21.1%, 907 compared to 749. New researchers increased 16.3%, 378 compared to 325.
As anticipated reader printer income climbed 253.2%, $1150.50 compared to $325.75. Photoduplication orders, on the other hand, fell 26.4%, $1703.25 compared to $2314.25.
The amount of mail handled during May decreased 14.5%, 851 compared to 913 last year. Part of the decline stems from changes in the way the Archives is now processing letters with citations. If correct fees are enclosed, the letters are sent to State and Local Records where staff make the copies. The work is then counted as part of SLR reference, rather than the mail program. Patrons writing letters with citations, but without correct fees, receive a response advising them of the cost for each record. The statistics for this type of correspondence is included in the turnaround mail category which in May rose 3.3%, 247 compared to 239 last year. Staff mail also increased 19.7%, 438 compared to 366. Research mail which requires the staff to check indexes dropped 18.5%, 66 compared to 81. Administrative mail fell 56.4%, 171 compared to 392.
Phone reference continues to expand with the number of calls in May increasing 47.2%, 1151 compared to 782 in 1994. The average number per day was 52, compared to 37 last year.
During the past few months telephone requests for information on adoptions have been become more prominent. Adoption files prior to July 1, 1947 are open; after that they are sealed and can be opened only by court order. Most of the adoptions we research were handled by the courts in Baltimore City. Cases are generally indexed under the name of the adoptive parents and sometimes the institution where the child was placed, such as Catholic Charities or Baltimore Orphan Asylum. The latter type is difficult to search because the child's name does not appear in the index to distinguish it from any other adoption out of that institution. Although adoption files after June 1947 are sealed, the indexing is public and a case number can be obtained. With the case number a person may petition the court for access to the file. A judge will decide whether to grant permission for access and to what degree.
After a week of rain, conditions were surprisingly good at Hospital Point on the banks of the Severn. Cool temperatures and a gentle breeze made things comfortable for the Archives cheering section anchored by Betsy "Nerves Of" Steele, Reggie "Radar" Davis, Lee "Foghorn" Evans, Jodie "Chain Saw" Evans, and Frank "The Terror" Toves. Team score keeper Kris "Lucky" Lucas recognized the importance of this game and found time in her busy schedule to keep the official record. The Archives squad had a full complement of players including the famous lawyer slayer "Wild" Bill Bodziak, fresh back from his testimony in La-La Land. (Some have suggested changing his name to Bill "Watch Your Step" Bodziak, but that would hardly do justice to his maniacal style of play!)
With two outs in the second, the Archives got on the scoreboard utilizing its most devastating offensive weapon: the Bottom-of-the-Order! Gus "Anvil" Andujar crushed a long triple and scored when the hot-hitting Mariana "The Menace" Toves lashed a hard grounder. "The Menace" cruised to third after Revo "Rage" Luistro smacked a double, and then Dana "Demon" Grogan rediscovered her hitting prowess with a well-placed ground ball that scored Toves. Revo scored on designated hitter Arian "The Barbarian" Ravanbakhsh's single and "Demon" Grogan steamed home on a double from lead-off man Chuck "Mr. Style" Bodziak. In the third Bill "The Thrill" Bodziak legged a nicely stuck grounder into an aggressive triple and scored on a deep sacrifice fly off the bat of Tim "Trouble" Siekierka. Meanwhile the Capitalistas had claimed one of their disputable home runs that featured right fielder "Trouble" Siekierka attempting to catch a deep fly ball that hit a tree! The score after three was 5 - 4 in our favor.
Unfortunately the Archivers failed to scored again until the eighth inning. The main reason was the abominable pitching it got from the Capital hurler whose definition of the strike zone apparently included the backstop! Meanwhile Das Kapital had built an 8 - 5 lead on the basis of home runs, one legitimate and one that defies any sense of logic and fairness. Outraged at the injustice of the score, the Archives hurled down the gauntlet. Bill "The Thrill" led-off the eighth with a double and claimed home plate on a liner from "Trouble" Siekierka. "Wild" Bill knocked-in the speedy "Trouble," and "Anvil" Andujar connected for an RBI double. Despite nursing a gimpy leg, "Menace" Toves blasted her second RBI single and suddenly, the Archives was ahead 9 - 8.
It was now time to call on the services of the celebrated Green Slime Defense which responded by slamming the door on the Capital which went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth. Unfortunately the Archives defense could not repeat that gutsy performance and hold the slim lead. In the final play of the game, Steve "Say Hey" Bennett in left charged and caught a liner and nearly nailed the tagging runner with a perfect throw. Sometimes evil triumphs anyway!
Offensive kudos go to Revo "Rage" Luistro (3 for 3, 1 RBI), "Wild" Bill (3 for 4, 1 RBI), and Dana "Demon" Grogan (3 for 4, 1 RBI). "Trouble" Siekierka and "Menace" Toves each knocked-in two.
Our next game should be on July 12, when the Archives will meet the Anne Arundel Public Schools at Annapolis Junior High #5.