When a tradition feels like forever...
For newcomers to Baltimore or the neighborhood of Hampden, the lights on 34th Street feel like a tradition. And by now, they kind of are. I wrote an article for Shore Monthly about the "Spectacle on 34th Street," and found myself surprised that the street-wide decorations only started in 1991. But in the years since, the street has become Baltimore's place to be over the holidays.
Read the piece via Shore Monthly.
A Skimmington Shaming
Is your neighbor being annoying? Too loud? Coveting another neighbor's wife? What do you do about it?
...also known as Swedish gingerbread cookies!
As I was rolling out dough for pepparkakor last weekend, I realized I didn't know anything about the distinctly thin and crispy cookies I've been cutting out and eating every year. So, I decided to look into what I could find about the history of Swedish gingerbread and share my favorite recipe, which comes from an almost-antique 1986 Allt Om Mat.
Enjoy and God Jul!
The Proto-Feminists of Early America
Read my new piece on OZY!
Just in time for election day, OZY published my piece on how early feminists in the U.S. got inspiration from women participating in the French Revolution. This story was inspired by an essay in Riot and Revelry in Early America, a book that explores the celebrations, parades, and traditions that helped create American culture, even if they have been forgotten.
Pumpkins & Parties!
Friday the 13th has enough scary stuff, so here are some cute photos of kids celebrating Halloween festivities!
Happy Valentine's Day!
I always loved finding old greeting post-cards when I worked at the archive. What better day to share some of my favorites?
In the Dark, She Comes with Light
With candles in her hair, dressed in white with a bright red sash, Lucia comes to bring warmth, light, and goodies in the dark Swedish winter.
The story I always heard growing up is that Lucia is the Patron Saint of Light, and she comes on (what used to be) the darkest day of the year, today, December 13th. She is based on St. Lucy, who, in the 3rd century, brought food and aid to hiding and persecuted Christians in the catacombs. She wore candles on her head so that she could see in the dark while carrying food, and her red sash is said to represent the blood from when she was slain. Her martyrdom lead to Sainthood, but this all happened it Italy, so how did she become the figure of a Nordic holiday? It might have to do with witches. Yup, another Swedish holiday with witch connections...)
Ghosts at the Edge of the World
At the southernmost tip of South America, the Andes mountain range plummets into the ocean and collides with the pampas plains of Argentina. Here, on the island of Tierra del Fuego, the wind whips across the landscape, the Straight of Magellan churns; the beauty of nature collides with the harsh realities of an Antarctic climate. For thousands of years, the Ona tribe called this place home. But as European settlers expanded throughout South America, they took the land the Ona lived on, systematically killed the Ona, and diminished their way of life. Finally, in the 1970s, the last person of full Ona ancestry died.
Images above and left from Charles W. Furlong's article on the Ona and Haush from 1915.
Lost Witch Song from the Wizard of Oz
While searching through the Levy Collection at in the Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries Special Collection for witch images, I came across "The Witch Behind the Moon," and it was so complex that I thought it deserved it's own post.
The Crab Derby in Crisfield
Everyone is in place, waiting. Money and honor are on the line. The gate comes up. Bang! They're off!
In 1947, the town of Crisfield decided to host a hard crab race outside of their post office as part of a summer Fishing Fair, highlighting their seafood bounty. In Maryland, summer is synonymous with eating blue crabs out on a deck by the water, and Crisfield, located on Eastern Shore between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, is a town that revolves around watermen and fishing culture.
I came across these great clips from WMAR-TV's coverage of the 6th annual crab race via the University of Baltimore's archives, which got me to look into the history of the event a little more.
Come in, the stacks are open.
Away from prying eyes, damaging light, and pilfering hands, the most special collections are kept in closed stacks. You need an appointment to view the objects, letters, and books that open a door to the past.
Here, pieces of material culture are examined in the light. The stacks are open. Read the stories behind objects and ephemera found in private collections, archives, and museums.
African American History
Banjo Collector's Gathering
"Freak Show" History
James Ford Bell Library
Native American History
New York City
South American History
World War II