Mapping Baybrook: From Main Street to the Harbor

The Polish Home Hall, Baltimore, MD—December 1, 2012 from 1-5pm

The Departments of American Studies and Visual Arts at UMBC and the Baybrook Coalition, a non-profit community development corporation, will host an event celebrating the history and culture of the Baltimore neighborhoods Brooklyn and Curtis Bay (referred to together as Baybrook), on Saturday, December 1 from 1 to 5pm. The Polish Home Hall is located at 4416 Fairhaven Avenue in the Curtis Bay neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland.

Students in Professor Nicole King’s American studies course and Professor Steve Bradley’s visual arts course worked together on various aspects of programming for this event. This work is funded by a UMBC Breaking Ground grant and illustrates how the successes and failures of urban industrial development contribute to our understanding of historic places and the creation of social space. A central theme of this project is that preserving places through original research, virtual mapping, and public humanities and arts programming creates social space—the room for diverse people and perspectives to come together and enhance today’s urban environments. “Mapping Baybrook: From Main Street to the Harbor” recognizes historic main streets as an essential place for the future development of the community and features the aesthetic resources within the community. The event will also mark the launch of the Mapping Baybrook website, which was designed in collaboration with UMBC’s Imaging Research Center (IRC).

A $10 ticket provides a pulled pork barbeque lunch with all the fixings, a copy of Mapping Baybrook’s main streets walking tour brochure, an event program, live music, public history programming, and an art exhibit designed and executed by Professor Steve Bradley and UMBC’s IRC Fellows. Children under 10 will be admitted free of charge and are invited to participate in special activities just for kids.  Anyone who lives or works in Baybrook will receive $2 off the $10 ticket price.

All proceeds raised at the event will be donated to the non-profit Baybrook Coalition for the continued preservation of the historic Polish Home Hall. The Polish Home Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as an anchor for the communities of Baybrook.

For more information on the UMBC students who have planned the event see AMST 422 student Collin Wojciechowski’s Breaking Ground blog or ART 390’s blog.

This event is sponsored by the Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture in the Department of American Studies, the Visual Arts Department, a Breaking Ground grant, the Imaging Research Center (IRC) Fellows all at UMBC as well as the Baybrook Coalition, a non-profit community development corporation serving the residents of Brooklyn and Curtis Bay.

If you’d like more information about this event or have any questions, please contact Dr. Nicole King at (410) 455-1457 work – (202) 345-6250 cell or email

“Baltimore Neighborhoods, Baltimore History” conference

“Baltimore Neighborhoods, Baltimore History”

8:30 am – 4:30 pm – Friday, May 11, 2012 – Maryland Historical Society

200 West Monument St. – Baltimore, MD 21201

SPONSORS: Baltimore City Historical Society, Maryland Historical Society, the Orser Center, and WYPR (media partner)

To register, please visit this website.  The fee is $20 and there is a happy hour following the conference at the historic Owl Bar at 5:30pm.The “Baltimore Neighborhoods, Baltimore History” conference seeks to cultivate and promote the rich history of Baltimore City. Neighborhoods play a complex role in Baltimore’s past and present and illustrate the struggles and rewards of building a sense of community within an urban space. Programming features two panel discussions and two presentations on recent work that preserves and commemorates the complicated history of Baltimore. The conference’s speakers range from local academics to representatives from city organizations for heritage and preservation to community activists.


Conference fee: $20. Morning coffee and Lunch will be provided

Registration: You may also pay at the door.

Parking: Limited parking is available at the MdHS

Questions: Direct to Suzann Langrall at / 410-706-4529



8:30am – 9:15am COFFEE & MUFFINS

9:15am – 9:30am WELCOME, Mike Franch, Baltimore City Historical Society


Dale Glenwood Green, Morgan State University, Morgan Park + Wilson Park: Historic African American Neighborhoods

Few places in Baltimore rival the role that Morgan Park and Wilson Park played in the lives of African Americans. Professor of Architecture and Historic Preservation Dale Glenwood Green has worked to connect heritage preservation, tourism and education to historic African American neighborhoods. Green and with his students explored the impact of the development of the Morgan State University campus on the area adjacent to it. Green will tell a story of race, place and time of the supposedly “separate but equal” status accorded these Baltimore neighborhoods

Denise Meringolo, UMBC, Public History Training on the Westside

Meringolo will discuss her efforts to harness service learning as a pedagogical tool for training the next generation of public historians. In the spring of 2012, her graduate public history course is partnering with Baltimore Heritage in a course designed to challenge students to recognize history as a vehicle for smart growth and urban redevelopment. She will discuss the ways in which the architectural history of Baltimore’s west side can assist city residents in their efforts to preserve livable neighborhoods.

Betsy Nix, University of Baltimore, The People’s Free Health Clinic in 1970s Waverly

In the wake of assassinations and urban upheaval in the late 1960s, a group of young volunteers tried to respond in a positive way by delivering free basic medical care and mental health services to the Waverly community. In the fall of 2012, undergraduate students at the University of Baltimore interviewed some of the founders of the institution that would grow into the People’s Community Health Center, which still exists today. In this session, Betsy Nix and honors student Beverly Bowers will describe the project and share their initial findings.

11:15am – 11:50am PRESENTATION: Mary Mashburn, Globe Posters Comes to MICA

The Globe Poster Company with its vivid day-glo posters tacked up on telephone poles, abandoned buildings, check cashing joints, coffee shops, bars, and churches became part of the neighborhood landscape in Baltimore, DC, and well beyond. Over its 80 years of existence Globe’s production facility was located in several Baltimore neighborhoods, and it reached across racial and ethnic boundaries to serve a wide variety of constituencies. The Italian-American printers produced posters, tickets and handbills for primarily African American promoters and for musicians from big band days through Hip Hop and Go Go. 2

11:50am – 1:30pm LUNCH

Award of Joseph L. Arnold Prize for Outstanding Writing on Baltimore’s History in 2011

SPEAKER: Aaron Henkin, WYPR’s THE SIGNAL-“Out of the Blocks: The concept is simple: one hour of radio – one city block – everybody’s story”


Eric Holcomb, Baltimore Commission for Historic and Architectural Preservation, Beyond History: Rethinking the Goals of Historic Preservation

Today, Baltimore has more than 150 landmarks and 32 local historic districts comprising more than 10,000 structures. Thousands more sites are listed on the National Register for Historic Places. We have justified preserving these buildings because they are physical links to our past, but do we preserve history for history’s sake only? 20th Century history of Baltimore suggests that historic preservation has been an essential component to creating and maintaining healthy, dynamic neighborhoods that nurture human development. This presentation argues that it is time to rethink the presently accepted goals of historic preservation in order to fully address the challenges and opportunities of today.

Eli Pousson, Baltimore Heritage, Parks and Preservation in West Baltimore Neighborhoods

Over the past two years, Baltimore Heritage has worked to connect historic preservation, public history, and neighborhood revitalization in the historic neighborhoods of West Baltimore. This past spring, these efforts led to a new partnership with the Parks & People Foundation and community organizations around Lafayette Square, Harlem Park, Franklin Square, and Union Square, to establish the Friends of West Baltimore Squares—a community organization dedicated to promoting the recognition and use of heritage and green space as important assets for community development. Baltimore Heritage Field Officer Eli Pousson will provide a short introduction to their work with the Friends of West Baltimore Squares and how they combine heritage programs, public archaeology, and new online interpretation with community organizing and neighborhood greening to build support for healthier and stronger neighborhoods.

Todd Marcus, Newborn Holistic Ministries, Sandtown: Past and Present

Community activist Todd Marcus will discuss the connection between past and present in the struggle for neighborhood sustainability in an historic West Baltimore community. Once a vibrant area within the confines of segregation, with a cultural heritage rooted in a rich music tradition, Sandtown in recent decades has struggled with many social challenges—out-migration, blight, and abandonment, as well as the loss of middle class resources. Working on behalf of Newborn Holistic Ministries, Marcus has been involved with a variety of projects aimed at the physical and social rehabilitation of the neighborhood.

3:30pm – 4:05pm PRESENTATION: Deborah Rudacille, Journalist

Aftermath: What happens to a company town when the company goes bust?”

For over 100 years, the Sparrows Point steelworks provided jobs and financial security to thousands of families in the southeast Baltimore neighborhoods of Dundalk and Sparrows Point. How have those families been affected by job loss at the Point and at other industrial employers—and can working class communities like these reinvent themselves to compete in a post-industrial America and globalized world?

4:05pm – 4:30pm CLOSING REMARKS

5:00pm HAPPY HOUR, OWL BAR, 1 East Chase Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

Orser Center Events – Fall 2011

Marci Reaven, “Giving the Past a Presence: Public History Experiments in New York City”

Thursday, December 1, 4-6pm, UMBC Library Gallery

Dr. Marci Reaven’s career in public history has included stints with the exhibit planning firm American History Workshop, the cultural organization City Lore (where she directed the wide-ranging Place Matters project), and the New York Historical Society where she is Vice-President for History Exhibitions. She’ll draw on her own experiences and those of others to discuss the joys and challenges of public history, paying particular attention to projects that center around places and their ability to connect us to the past, and to diverse communities and their ongoing cultural traditions.

Bmore Historic

Friday, December 2, 8:30am-3:30pm, Maryland Historic Society

What is Bmore Historic?

Bmore Historic is a participant-led unconference on public history, historic preservation and community development in the Baltimore region and across the state of Maryland. Organized in partnership between Baltimore Heritage, the Greater Baltimore History Alliance, the Maryland Association of History Museums, Maryland Historical Society, the Maryland Historical Trust, Preservation Maryland, and the UMBC Orser Center, Bmore Historic is an opportunity to connect with local historians, humanities scholars, preservation advocates, museum professionals, archivists, and anyone interested in exploring the vital intersections between people, places and the past in Baltimore and Maryland. We’re bringing people together and you set the agenda.

What is an “unconference”?

Unlike most traditional academic or professional meetings, an unconference is a created and managed by the participants, with the content of the conference determined day-by-day during the course of the event, rather than in advance by the organizers. Unconferences are not a spectator sport. Leave your PowerPoint at home, we’re not looking for presentations, just people who are ready share their knowledge and discuss their work.

Bridging Baybrook: Preserving the Past, Developing the Future (2011)

“American Studies 422: Preserving Places, Making Spaces in Baltimore” is an applied research course in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).  During the spring 2011 semester, students worked with Professor Nicole King to explore the important role of historic places in sustaining vibrant urban culture.  After readings on public history projects such as The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History and The Baltimore Book: New Views of Local History, students partner with a local non-profit community organization to develop an innovative preservation and public history project on overlooked people and places in Baltimore.  During the spring 2011 semester, students worked on the Greater Baybrook area in South Baltimore.

A Faculty Innovation Grant funded by the Kauffman Foundation through the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship at UMBC provided the seed money for this course.  The course teaches students about social entrepreneurship, which balances creating social good with making a profit to sustain the future.  The $1,500 Faculty Innovation Grant provides the funds for the event and any profits over the original $1,500 are donated to a non-profit organization based in Baltimore.  All of the profits from the spring 2011 course were donated to the Baybrook Coalition, a 501c(3) non-profit organization with the goal of improving the Greater Brooklyn area.

Greater Baybrook is comprised of the industrial communities of Brooklyn, Curtis Bay, Fairfield, Hawkin’s Point, Masonville, and Wagner’s Point.  On May 14, 2011 the students hosted an event—Bridging Baybrook: Preserving the Past, Developing the Future—that drew over one hundred people to the Polish Home Hall, a historic community building owned by the Baybrook Coalition.  The event was a community celebration incorporating public history programming, art, music, food, and events for children.  Tickets were sold for $5 to community residents and $15 for visitors.  The ticket included a program of historical essays on the various neighborhoods in Greater Baybrook prepared by Professor King and the students and access to all the food, entertainment, and events throughout the day (2-6pm).

The first floor was decorated in spring colors and had a history table, with materials including history panels the students designed, and a large map where community members could discuss the important places in the community.  The history table also sold t-shirts and buttons the students designed. A delicious Barbeque lunch with all the fixings was provided with hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for children.  There was also a kids’ station outside where young visitors could build greenhouses, paint rocks, or play horseshoes.  Children twelve and under (accompanied by an adult) were provided free access to the event.  Students in the course worked with local students (from both Curtis Bay Elementary and Chesapeake Center for Youth Development) over the previous month in making art that represented place in their community.

The art was featured on the second floor as part of a silent auction where the artists received half of the profits and half went to the community.  The second floor also had a stage where various musical acts performed.  By holding this event, the students commemorated a sense of place in the community and offered a space to gather, reflect, and make new memories.  During the event Carol Eshelman, executive director of the Baybrook Coalition for the past decade, was honored upon her retirement.  On the day of the event, the students raised $1,200.  After replenishing the $1,500 seed money for the course, the students donated $400 to the Baybrook Coalition and provided $70 to local students for their part of the proceeds from their art.

The course and the event were great successes.  Professor Nicole King and Steve Bradley (Associate Professor in Visual Arts) were awarded an IRC/CAHSS Summer Faculty Residency for 2011 for an online public history mapping project in the Greater Baybrook community.  They will work with Dan Bailey, Lee Boot, Eric Smallwood, and Abbey Salvo to launch a prototype of the Mapping Baybrook Project over the summer/fall.

Orser Center Advisory Committee Meeting & Event on March 30

The Orser Center Advisory Committee will be meeting at The Commons 318 at UMBC at 3pm on Wednesday, March 30.

Following the brief meeting, the Orser Center is sponsoring a Humanities Forum panel discussion “Meet Maryland Traditions” from 4-6pm at the UMBC Library Gallery.  There is a reception following the panel discussion.

See pdf for full info on “Meet Maryland Traditions” event:


Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture

On the evening of November 11, 2010 the CSPCC was endowed the Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture.

Thanks to everyone who helped to organize this event and gave to the endowment to continue the wonderful community projects Dr. Orser pioneered at UMBC.  Congratulations to Dr. Orser on his retirement and new role as Professor Emeritus at UMBC.  More more on the event, see this article in UMBC’s Insights online magazine.

Ed Orser Retirement Party

The Department of American Studies at UMBC is hosting a special event to honor Dr. Ed Orser, who retired in August after over 40 exemplary years at UMBC.

Ed Orser Retirement Party
Thursday, November 11 from 7-10pm
Skylight Lounge

Please R.S.V.P to Carol Harmon
(410) 455-2106

This event is the Kickoff of the Ed Orser Endowment Fund

In honor of Dr. Orser’s extraordinary contributions to the department and university, the American Studies Department plans to endow the Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture to continue the work Dr. Orser pioneered.  Endowing the Center requires that we initially raise a minimum of $25,000, and we hope to raise considerably more than that in the years ahead.

Dr. Orser was a founding member of the Department of American Studies.  He helped to build the Department’s curriculum from the ground up, mentored many faculty members, won both the Presidential and Regents’ awards for teaching excellence, and served as chair for many years.  He is a leading scholar in urban and community studies, as evidenced by his 1994 book, Blockbusting in Baltimore: The Edmondson Village Story, a classic study of the dynamics of racial change in a city neighborhood.  As a public intellectual mindful of the need to inform civic discourse, Dr. Orser has consistently translated his scholarship into accessible and popular exhibits, teaching materials, films, public lectures, and community projects. Generations of American Studies students benefited from the research and fieldwork of the Community Studies Projects he designed and led for his classes.

Send contributions to the Orser fund to:

Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture
c/o Carol Harmon
Department of American Studies – Fine Arts 453
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250

Checks should be made to UMBC Foundation; please write Orser Center in the subject line.

Inaugural CSPCC Lecture: Thursday, September 23

Toward a Bicycle Culture: Rethinking Urban Life on Two Wheels
UMBC Library Gallery
Thursday, September 23 4-6pm

Zack Furness, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies
Columbia College Chicago

In this lecture, Zack Furness will discuss some of the various ways in which the bicycle has been put to use as a tool for critically examining the relationships between space, place, community, and mobility in the United States.  By drawing attention to a range of political and cultural practices that include public protest, street/performance art, media production, and the establishment of non-profit community centers, Dr. Furness looks at how a burgeoning counterculture of bicyclists are actively redefining the meaning of “pedal power” and illuminating the prospects of a more sustainable, convivial vision of city.  Zack Furness is Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies at Columbia College Chicago and the author of One Less Car: Bicycling and the Politics of Automobility (Temple University Press, 2010).  He is member of the Bad Subjects Production Team and a contributor to Cycling – Philosophy for Everyone: A Philosophical Tour de Force (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), Media Literacy: A Reader (Peter Lang, 2007), and Collective Action: A Bad Subjects Anthology (Pluto Press, 2004). His writing has also appeared in the journals Mobilities and Social Epistemology, as well as magazines such as Punk Planet and Bitch (forthcoming).  Presently, he is editing a book of scholarly essays on punk, entitled Punkademics, and co-editing a cultural studies collection on the National Football League.

Inaugural Lecture of the Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture (CSPCC)
Department of American Studies, UMBC

Dr. Furness will also be speaking about his book at the
2010 Baltimore Book Festival Radical Bookfair
at Mount Vernon Square Friday, September 24 at 5pm.