The Special Collections department of the Albin O. Kuhn Library, in partnership with the History department and the Center for Digital History Education, is happy to announce that the Joseph L. Arnold papers are now open for research use. Dr. Arnold’s vast collection of research papers include two manuscripts on the history of Baltimore: one organized chronologically and another, thematically by ethnic and social groups. Making up the bulk of the collection, however, are files on more than 350 distinct topics in Baltimore history. Each file contains up to 150 newspaper articles (mostly from the Baltimore Sun), in addition to pamphlets, chapters from books, and Dr. Arnold’s hand-written notes, on a specific topic. These files, arranged into 14 categories, cover the economic, social and political history of Baltimore and focus mainly on the period between the Civil War and World War I. Topics range from annexation to abattoirs, from baseball to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, from marriage to manufacturing, and from streetcars to sewage. We are still processing additional records, including Dr. Arnold’s teaching materials, so be sure to check back as new items are added to the collection.
Dr. Arnold’s manuscripts, in Series I and II of the collection, represent the culmination of more than thirty years of research on Baltimore history. Although it was never completed for print publication, the Special Collections staff has been working with his widow Mary Jane Arnold, University of Baltimore historian Dr. Elizabeth Nix, and UMBC alumna Theresa Donnelly to prepare the manuscript for online publication. We envision free, open access for this invaluable resource. Once the material is online, it will be readily searchable and accessible to anyone with an interest in Baltimore history—both within and outside of the UMBC community. We anticipate that the manuscript will be online this fall.
As I have been handling these files over the course of the academic year—placing the contents of each file into new, acid-free folders to ensure that the papers last as long as possible—I have enjoyed picking up bits and pieces of what life was like for previous generations of Baltimoreans. To my surprise, I have been struck by how much has not changed over the past two centuries. I ran across so many headlines that seem like they could be from today: reporting on last night’s Orioles game, a new stall opening at Lexington Market, construction on Charles Street, the weather causing difficulties for commuters, upcoming graduation celebrations at Western High School, vacationers flocking to the Eastern Shore, heated debates among members of the City Council, family reunions at Druid Hill Park. The advertisements also provide a window into Baltimore of yesteryear.
Joseph Larkin Arnold (1937-2004) was a prominent urban historian and a key leader at UMBC for most of his career. Dr. Arnold joined the faculty of UMBC—then a very young institution—in 1968 after earning a PhD in social history at the Ohio State University. In his three and a half decades here Dr. Arnold fulfilled a variety of campus leadership roles, including a term as Acting Librarian in 1979-1980. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses on American cities, Baltimore history, historical research methods, and comparative urban history, among other topics. In his field he became known as “the dean of Baltimore historians” for his extensive research on Charm City’s transition from a colonial tobacco port to a modern metropolis. The author of six books and over 60 articles, chapters, and reviews, Dr. Arnold was in the final stages of writing a comprehensive history of Baltimore at the time of his death in January 2004.
Auni Gelles has been working with the Joseph L. Arnold papers and manuscript this year. Auni is graduate student in the History department and Graduate Assistant for the Center for Digital History Education and the Special Collections department in the AOK Library. She will continue her work with the Arnold papers next year. Thank you, Auni!