Baltimore history

Night street scene
Bolton Street from Dolphin Lane, Baltimore, Maryland
Hughes Company
8x10 inch glass negative
Baltimore City Life Museum Collection
Maryland Historical Society


It’s Throwback Thursday, Halloween addition! Need ideas to spice up your Halloween night? How about contacting spirits (or goof off with friends) using the legendary Ouija board?? 

Did you know the Ouija board was created by former MICA student William Fuld, who designed the board in Baltimore, and received a patent for it in 1892?

Read more about William Fuld and the creation and evolution of the Ouija board here!

Union soldiers playing cards and drinking on Federal Hill in Baltimore, Maryland, c. 1864.



101 Willard Street. Baltimore.

I’m always amazed at how much of Baltimore is frozen – not in ice, but in time. Today I visited 101 Willard Street, a complex of factory buildings that once housed the Eigenbrot Brewery. It opened in 1873, and closed with Prohibition in 1920. According to the website “Baltimore Slumlord Watch,” the address is no longer listed in Baltimore City records, and the owner of the property is a mystery. Yet there it sits, at the corner of Lombard and Willard, looking at once both grand, and tragic.

Yesterday the Maryland Historical Society posted a beautiful photograph of the Peabody Library from their collection.  For comparison’s sake, here is a different view of the Peabody taken in the 1890s.  Believe it or not, but with the exception of furniture placement, the interior of the library really hasn’t changed!  In fact, today’s 21st century readers even use the same desks as their 19th century counterparts.

This photograph is part of a portfolio of local images published in 1893 as The Art Work of Baltimore.  Produced in 12 parts, The Art Work of Baltimore is a wonderful time capsule  documenting 19th century domestic and civic architecture in our fair city.

Call No.: 709 .7526 P233 Quarto

Location: George Peabody Library

“Young Hucksters”
Baltimore, Maryland
Elinor B. Cahn
8x10 inch photograph
The East Baltimore Documentary Photography Project
Baltimore City Life Museum Collection
Maryland Historical Society

Copyright Elinor B. Cahn, 1977

“In 1976, Maryland Institute College of Art photography professor Linda G. Rich, and two of her students, Joan Clark Netherwood and Elinor B. Cahn, began work on a project documenting the large swath of neighborhoods collectively known as East Baltimore. What was intended to be merely a project for Rich’s class on social documentary photography, instead evolved into a four-year undertaking, resulting in over 10,000 photographs, and a unique portrait of a neighborhood in transition.” Read more about the background of The East Baltimore Documentary Project.

[Baltimore] City Hall, Centennial Illumination
[100 Holliday Street, Baltimore, Maryland]
Unidentified photographer
8x10 inch glass negative
Glass Plate Negative Collection
Maryland Historical Society

Google Maps Street View of Baltimore City Hall from Gay Street:

View Larger Map


Decker Library’s Digital Initiatives Unit is pleased to announce the online availability of the S.C. Malone Penmanship Collection (not dated and 1890-1932) on Digital Decker, Decker Library’s digital collections site. This collection supports graphic design, typography, hand lettering and history of business research.

The online collection is a sampling of the S.C. Malone Penmanship Collection, including detail images of some of the hand-lettered designs. The complete collection, which is part of Decker Library’s special collections, consists of 98 examples of penmanship created by Samuel Curtis Malone (d. 1938).

S.C. Malone, a nationally known master penman, maintained a studio in Baltimore, MD as early as 1888, fulfilling commissions for bookplates, coats of arms, crests, and diplomas. Certificates were created for clients such as the City of Baltimore, University of Maryland, and the B&O Railroad. As a handwriting expert, Malone was often called for court testimony.

Penmanship classes were also offered at his office which was located in four different locations throughout the years on Charles Street: 5 North Charles Street, 9 North Charles Street, 331 North Charles Street, and 323 North Charles Street.

A finding aid for the collection is available on the Decker Library website. For more information, please contact

Original home of Julien Pierre Friez, who founded the Belfort Instrument Company and Belfort Observatory on the same property, in 1899. The company, still in business but relocated, produces weather instruments for the U.S. Air Force. The buildings are now in use as a women’s and children’s shelter. Baltimore Street and Central Avenue.

{Urban Baltimore series. No. 10.}

The Homeland duckpin bowling
Baltimore, Maryland
November 18, 1942
Hughes Company
8x10 inch acetate negative
Hughes Studio Photograph Collection
Maryland Historical Society
PP30 678-42