The Archivist's Bulldog

Vol. 11 No. 20, Newsletter of the Maryland State Archives, November 10, 1997

by Pat Melville

The Hall of Records Commission met on October 23, 1997, at the Archives. After routine matters concerning approval of minutes, retention schedules, and disposal certificates, Ed reported on recent staff activities. He highlighted our web presentation on photographic collections, which describes twenty-four of the collections and contains examples from several of them.

The Archives is proposing a structural history of the State House. Gene Lynch, Secretary of the Department of the General Services, endorsed the idea and stressed the importance of state agencies working together to document and maintain this significant historical building. His agency has completed replacement of the gutters, thus eliminating rain damage. The underground drainage system around the State House needs to be completely replaced because most of the pipes are clogged. The work must be done by hand because of the strong possibility of finding artifacts. This will require working closely with the Maryland Historic Trust. The drainage project should result in additional historical knowledge about the building and the area around it. DGS uses experts and committees to help plan work on the State House to address quality and historical issues. Ed pointed out that Joseph Clark, architect of the State House dome, was the first person to discuss with George Washington the siting and architecture of buildings in Washington.

On September 9, the House Appropriations Committee visited the Archives where they were given an electronic demonstration of available information, given a tour of the search room, stacks, and conservation lab, and shown a small representative sampling of documents. Members expressed an interest in having journals of the House and Senate scanned, which would more widely disseminate information and serve as a conservation measure for the fragile pages in many of the books.

On September 17, a press conference was held at the Archives to announce the awarding of a NEH grant to the Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the Archives. "Teaching in the Age of the Internet" will train teachers to use original documents from the Archives in an interactive electronic classroom. Louis Goldstein, Chairman of the Commission, spoke about the significance of the day as the anniversary of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, illustrated by relevant documents housed at the Archives. Lesson plans developed by social studies teachers from previous teachers' institutes were also demonstrated.

Ed discussed the recent acquisitions of government records and special collections. The unanticipated acceleration of record transfers from government offices in the past decade has resulted in the filling of almost all available space in the stacks area. The Department of General Services is assisting in the search for temporary storage space for records. Within Special Collections Ed highlighted a collection that contains a lawyer's handbook on how to fill out legal forms and follow legal procedures in the Prince George's Court in the 19th century. The volume, probably used by Gabriel Duvall, shows how Maryland lawyers were trained.

Within the category of finding aids, reference, and publications several projects were featured. The Museum Online is a new concept to place archival material on the web in an exhibit setting. "One Man's Civil War: A Letter from Bull Run" contains a photograph of Stonewall Jackson; a reproduction of a letter written by a Confederate soldier, accompanied by a transcript of the contents; and a link to the Manasses National Battlefield Park website. A Biography On-Line project currently centers around first ladies and hostesses and women legislators. The Commission adopted a resolution to support two publication proposals - one called From Private Mansion to Public Residence: The Official Homes of the First Ladies and Hostesses of Maryland and another on the history of the State House.

Recent publications have featured records at the Archives. A Supplement to the Early Settlers of Maryland by Carson Gibb, who was a guest at the meeting, is available in paper form and as a searchable database on our website. Eventually the latter will be updated with entries from Skordas' Early Settlers of Maryland. Ed publically acknowledged Carson's volunteer efforts to compile the names of settlers whose names were missed initially or for whom additional entries were found. The Baltimore Strikes and Riot of 1877 is the most recent on-line publication in the Documents for the Classroom series. It contains images of documents relating to the strike against the B & O Railroad in Baltimore and the resulting riot, that eventually spread throughout the country. The images include telegrams from the president of the United States and newspaper accounts of the events.

Several administrative and fiscal matters came before the Commission. The Archives has received a proposal from a newspaper collector who is willing to pay for the filming and scanning of Maryland newspapers. The Commission gave its permission for the Archives to explore the possibility and feasibility of the project. On another issue the Commission approved the loan of the original Act of Toleration of 1649 to the LIbrary of Congress for an exhibit on rare and important documents in American history. Carol Borchert, the new Curator of Artistic Property, was introduced.

The meeting ended with special presentations to two individuals. In June 1997, Ardath Cade donated to the Archives lithographs of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. She made the gift in memory of Senator John A. Cade (1929-1996), commemorating his interest in Civil War history. Mrs. Cade presented Mike Miller, President of the Senate and member of the Commission, with the lithographs for display in the State House. Mike paid tribute to Jack Cade and his leadership efforts in the Senate.

Dick Israel was recognized for his efforts as counsel for the Archives. He was presented with a framed copy of an issue of the Sun that contained a photograph and article concerning the Annapolis election board and Dick's role as chairman.


The Maryland Council for Social Studies recognized the Anne Arundel County Public Schools - Maryland State Archvies educational cooperative "Teaching in the Age of the Internet" with its Maryland Program of Excellence Award. The Council is an organization of several hundred history, civics, and geography teachers and adminstrators who work to promote social studies education in Maryland and, through the national organization, across the country. Each year, the Council recognizes educational programs that exemplify its goals.

Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the 21st Century Foundation, "Teaching in the Age of the Internet" brings teachers and librarians (media specialists in today's educational parlance) together with scholars, archivists, and technical staff to learn how to use internet technology to teach social studies. In addition to content information about Maryland history, the teachers gain computer skills such as HyperText Mark-up Language coding and file managament to create computerized activities for their students. Through a direct telecommunications link to the Archives, teachers and students can access government information, digitialized original documents, and lesson plans, creating an archival experience with research and interpreting primary sources into their own computerized classrooms.

With the help of participating teachers Kathy Barrett (Georgetown East Elementary School) and Lee Mallory (Chesapeake High School), Rocky Rockefeller demonstrated the Maryland Government On Line and the Documents for the Classroom program to the annual MDCSS conference. In two sessions where the audience spilled out into the hallway trying to see the presentation, Rocky showed how computers can bring government information and original sources to teachers and students and talked about how these resources relate to state mandated content knowledge and thinking skills, as well as good old fashioned teaching and learning. The teachers and administrators were amazed at how much information is available on line, and how easily the participating teachers found integrating these resources into their own classroom activities. The audience was invited to track the program's activities through the project's website at under Education and Outreach, NEH Program.


Rocky Rockefeller had an opportunity to reach another audience at the University of Maryland, College Park's "Planet UM" open house. In their new Computer and Science Building's auditorium, Rocky showed that Maryland's Electronic Capital website is the electronic front door to governemnt information and services on the world wide web. Stressing that democracy can only be successful when an informed public participates in its own government, Rocky suggested to the audience of students of all ages and their parents that the web can identify their elected officials, get them in touch with legislators and bureucrats, and even provide services such as renewing licenses or getting tax forms from computers in their home. The demonstration was made all the easier by the university's T-3 internet connection!

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