The dog days of summer may drain us of energy but certainly not of enthusiasm or momentum.
The digitization team received an especially delightful boost this month by welcoming, Riley Bogren. Riley joins the team as the project’s Transcription Coordinator, a new role created in response to the growing interest and volunteer activity on our transcription site.
Time and again, Sandy Spring Museum initiatives serve as a catalyst in creating communities of shared visions and values; the digitization project is no exception. At its most elemental, transcription facilitates enhanced readability and searchability of document content within the digital archives. Yet, as the effort organically matures, we are seeing seeds of community emerge around query and inquisitiveness borne from the act of transcribing.
Riley is excited to serve as the hub around which this growing group can evolve by serving as a single point of contact and creating welcoming spaces in which transcribers share ideas and help each other.
A recent graduate from Towson University in film studies and videography, Riley hit the ground running with heaps of ideas and enthusiasm! A warm Sandy Spring Museum welcome to Riley.
Staff Picks from the Digital Archives
Lydia’s Picks July 2020
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My days are often brightened by the bits and bobs we find tucked into diaries or ledgers. While often unremarkable scratchings and miscellanea, these stray pieces survive decades and even centuries by simply been unthinkingly slipped between random pages; it feels so personal, a little like preserving the contents of one’s pockets or purse on any given day. When I came across this gem hidden inside one of Dr. Caleb Edward Iddings’ ledgers, I gasped. Who knew creosote could be medicinal!
These three letters from John H.B. Latrobe to Edward Stabler were written between March 16th and April 4th, 1845 in which designs for a stamp for the State of Maryland are discussed. That these two gentlemen collaborated on such a task is somewhat unremarkable; after all, Stabler was a seal maker and Latrobe an engineer. What captures my interest is that both men were true polymaths: Stabler was also a farmer, the postmaster of Sandy Spring, and the head of the Mutual Fire Insurance Company; Latrobe was also a patent lawyer, an inventor (the Latrobe stove), and founding member of the Maryland Historical Association and the American Bar Association. It’s fun to imagine how the genius of one may have fed off of (or collided with) the other.
This particular diary is a bittersweet testament to marital devotion. Dr. Caleb Edward Iddings was a lifelong diarist faithfully recording his daily experiences throughout his entire adult life. In the year of his death, he continued to write daily until mid-February, after which his wife Harriet begins to sporadically add notes of Dr. Iddings’ declining health and of visitors offering well wishes. Following his passing on June 4, 1904, Harriet picks up the pen and begins a daily chronicle in same book, continuing ritual for many years afterward.
I had to giggle when I saw how these two items together illustrate that generation gaps have existed long before the “OK Boomer” crowd! A discussion of the “unladylike and deleterious habit of chewing gum” among the younger generation ensued during the February meeting of The Mutual Improvement Association in 1918. The women rested assured, however, saying that their “dear Sandy Spring is comparatively clear of girls addicted to this disgusting habit”. That said, in browsing the scrapbook of a young Deborah Willson (nee Iddings) from the same period I found, nestled among her most treasured memories and mementos, two gum wrappers! The irony is that Deborah eventually joined the club herself as an adult and I am sure her future self engaged in many discussions regarding the “younger generation.”
Derek’s Picks July 2020
One of the oldest holdings in the Sandy Spring Museum Archives is the Survey Notebook of George Ellicott. George, son of Ellicott Mill founder Andrew Ellicott, married Elizabeth Brooke (daughter of James Brooke Jr.) in 1790. She recently inherited part of her father’s share of Pioneer Settler James Brooke’s vast estate. Reading this Survey Notebook of the Sandy Spring region reveals all the commonly known land patents – Charley Forrest, Brooke Grove, Gittings Ha-Ha, and Brooke Black Meadow. It also introduces you to some cleverly named new ones – Hard Bought, Bear Garden Forrest, Pork Plenty, and many more! It is obvious that George Ellicott is very interested in documenting his wife’s newly acquired land holdings. Their daughter, Elizabeth Ellicott, would marry Thomas Lea and later go on to national fame as the author of a famous cookbook!
Before the days of Homeowner Associations and Civic Associations, there was the Community Council of Sandy Spring Neighborhood. The Community Council engaged with local governments on behalf of the Sandy Spring Clubs to effect positive change in the Sandy Spring Community. Road improvements, landscaping, electricity, water, and sewer were all hot topics. It’s fun to read about the Council’s concerns regarding development and compare it with the issues local residents face today.
In 1921, The Neighbors, a Sandy Spring Social Club, formed a Committee to develop a “Sandy Spring Creed”. The idea was to communicate the spirit of unity embodied by Sandy Springers. Contributions from the community were submitted and the Committee announced the winner at the 268th meeting held August 18, 1921. The winning entry, written by Huldah Janney, is timeless and inspires us to act selflessly, especially during these trying times. You can also read the other entries that were submitted to the Committee by reading the previous pages.
James Pleasants Stabler, the first Postmaster of Sandy Spring and part-owner of the Sandy Spring Store, had recently suffered through the death of his wife Elizabeth Gilpin and 3 children when he decided to take a Trans-Atlantic journey in 1827. He kept a meticulous journal(s) of his adventure. Volume 1 starts on June 16, 1827, and spans 28 days – the time it took the packet ship “Pacific” to cross the Atlantic from New York to Liverpool. Packet Ships were similar to the airlines of today, in that they kept regular schedules between major cities. Reading his detailed diary will teach you about the risks and hardships undertaken by the crews and passengers of the packet ship vessels that sailed the oceans between continents. In addition, we learn what life was like on board the ship for Stabler and his fellow passengers and what they did to while away the many days spent at sea.
Sara’s Picks July 2020
This is a collection of poems and notes that celebrate the 25th anniversary of John and Cornelia Bentley. The friends and family of the Bentley’s wrote these words and they are sweet mementos from this occasion. I like the creativity of their friends and the ways that they sent their congratulations.
This invitation to the New Zealand embassy is very interesting to me as this is an international link to the Bentley’s in the Sandy Spring community. I imagine that attending a cocktail party at an embassy is a classy event and it is interesting to see the handwritten note that is included in this invitation. Clearly the Bentley’s knew some people in high places!
Caricatures are always interesting because they highlight a specific aspect of one’s personality or persona. This drawing of Jack Bentley displays his baseball career in a really dynamic way. I especially like the action lines around his exaggerated foot that give the feeling of movement or momentum as he winds up to throw the ball.
Gardening has seen a resurgence and expansion during the coronavirus shutdowns, many are cultivating their land and seeing what varied items they can try to grow. An important aspect to gardening and farming is using fertilizer to add essential nutrients for growth. This letter is an interesting description of bat guano, a fertilizer famously introduced to Sandy Spring in the 19th century, which was traded from Peru.
Patricia’s Picks July 2020
Fifteen-year-old John Caleb Bentley’s copybook will astonish you with not only the detailed complexities of his equations but also the eloquence of his penmanship. As a bonus, John has a habit of doodling in the margins, which gives you a little insight into what a teenager in 1865 thinks about while in school.
Have you ever been faced with a dreaded mole invasion in your garden? Apparently the Horticultural Club in April 1863 was facing the same problem as noted in their minutes, “Question: How do you get rid of moles? Answer: Unknown.” Well, some things don’t change with the passing of time. Or, how about this one, “Question: how do you raise broccoli? Answer: as cabbage.” So, I wonder how you raise cabbage!
Those who disparage a diet that includes tea and coffee haven’t heard of Mrs. Sophia Kummer Pierce of Montgomery County. Born in 1824, Sophia lived to be 103 years and credits her long life to “simple living, hard work and a firm belief in the goodness of Divine Providence.” She noted that she used tea and coffee all her life and it had not hurt her! Sophie’s husband, Edward Pierce who spent many years in California during the gold rush, must have shared her penchant for coffee, as he lived for 94 years! Look through this scrapbook dedicated to Sophie’s life and you will wish you’d met this charming centenarian!
The Archives Digitization Project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.