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  • Originally published 07/28/2013

    Maryland dig seeks proof of 1st free black community

    EASTON, Md. (AP) — Archaeology students have been sifting through a little patch of ground on Maryland’s Eastern Shore this summer, seeking evidence that it was home to the nation’s first free African-American community.Historians say hundreds of free blacks once lived in the area, while plantations flourished with hundreds of black slaves not far away.The students from the University of Maryland, College Park, and Morgan State University have been digging behind what is now the Women’s Club of Talbot County. The building, part of which dates to at least 1793, was home to three free non-white residents, according to the 1800 Census....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Md. historical society begins project to create authentic reproduction of Star-Spangled Banner

    BALTIMORE — The Maryland Historical Society is embarking on a special Independence Day project this year.The society on Thursday began recreating the original Star-Spangled Banner Flag, which flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812 and inspired the writing of the national anthem.Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake sewed the first stitch at a July 4 ceremony kicking off the project.The historical society says it expects its authentic reproduction to take six weeks to complete and will involve more than 100 volunteers to help stitch....

  • Originally published 06/06/2013

    Alixa Naff, scholar and historian of the Arab-American experience, dies at 93

    McLEAN, Va. — Alixa Naff, an early and pioneering historian who documented the lives of the first wave of Arab-American immigrants a century ago, has died after a brief illness. She was 93.Naff died Saturday at her home in Mitchellville, Md., according to two of her friends who were with her that day.Naff, who immigrated from what is now Lebanon when she was a toddler, is perhaps best known for a collection of oral histories and artifacts that she donated to the Smithsonian and which is still available for scholarly research at the National Museum of American History.“Through her research, Alixa Naff greatly contributed to the understanding of the early Arab immigrant experience in the United States from 1880 through the 1950s,” the Smithsonian said in a statement Wednesday....

  • Originally published 05/21/2013

    Group raising money for memorial to black Civil War veterans in Hagerstown

    HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Soldiers in Hagerstown were among the first black men in Maryland to join the ranks of the Union during the Civil War, and were involved in the siege of Petersburg, Va., during the conflict.Among the first local blacks who joined the Union were members of Moxley’s Band, a Hagerstown-based black brass band that became known as the 1st Brigade Band, U.S. Colored Troops, according to local historian Steve Bockmiller....

  • Originally published 05/08/2013

    Producer seeks funds online for documentary on Antietam battlefield illumination

    SHARPSBURG, Md. — A Maryland producer is hoping an online campaign will help him create a documentary about annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial IlluminationMichael Wicklein recently started a campaign to raise $23,110 to help fund the documentary through the website Kickstarter. The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown reports (http://bit.ly/13yIK6e) that “Gods and Generals” author Jeff Shaara announced this week that he plans to match up to $5,000 in contributions to help fund the documentary.Wicklein hopes to finish early next year after filming the 25th annual illumination. During the December event, volunteers place 23,000 luminarias at the battlefield to represent the casualties from the bloodiest single-day battle on American soil....

  • Originally published 04/05/2013

    'Renoir Girl' unmasked

    She called herself “Renoir Girl,” refusing to reveal her identity and offering few details about her biography. She lived in Northern Virginia, once taught in Washington area schools and was well-known in her community.What made her irresistible to reporters wasn’t who she was, but what she said she’d found: A bona-fide painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in a $7 box of trinkets purchased at a West Virginia flea market.The story generated worldwide attention and, for a time, promised to produce a six-figure windfall at auction for its accidental owner. But late last year, the FBI seized the painting, called “On the Shore of the Seine,” after the Baltimore Museum of Art learned it had been stolen in 1951....

  • Originally published 03/22/2013

    Lockheed Martin at the Trough

    What do hungry children and the world’s largest military contractor have in common? Not much, it seems  At the very time when (thanks to sequestration) state governments are cutting back aid to low income women and their children, the government of the State of Maryland seems en route to providing the Lockheed Martin Corporation with a handout worth millions of dollars.Lockheed Martin, which did $47 billion in business during 2012 -- mostly weapons sales to the U.S. government -- owns a very large, luxurious hotel and conference center in Montgomery County, Maryland.  In 2010, the corporation succeeded in getting the state to exempt it from paying the state lodging tax that all other Maryland hotels paid. 

  • Originally published 03/22/2013

    Obama to Name New National Monuments

    President Obama, who has been criticized for favoring oil and gas development over land conservation in his first term, on Monday will designate five new national monuments, according to officials briefed on the decision.They are the First State National Monument in Delaware and Pennsylvania; the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico; the San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington State; Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio and a monument commemorating Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway in Maryland....

  • Originally published 03/20/2013

    Maryland Breaks Ground on Tubman State Park;Governor Names Salazar Admiral

    Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and nearly 400 gathered in Dorchester County on Saturday March, 9 to break ground on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park.  The new park, just south of Cambridge, will be the trail head for the Harriet Tubman Byway and will include a 15,000-square foot Visitor Center, exhibit hall and theater, memorial garden, trails and a picnic pavilion.Commemoration — marking the 100th anniversary of the freedom fighter’s death — also featured the official ribbon cutting for the Byway....