Summer 2020 Newsletter

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Maryland Historical Trust

Each quarter, we deliver the news you need to keep up to date on our preservation programs. Sign up here to join our mailing list!

Historic Preservation Non-Capital Grants

The FY 2021 Historic Preservation Non-Capital Grant round is now open! An Intent to Apply is due July 17, with full applications due August 28. Eligible projects include research, survey, documentation, conservation, planning, and educational activities. To learn more, please see our grant workshop presentation or visit the MHT website


Reminder: AAHPP Applications Due

The African American Heritage Preservation Program celebrates 10 years of grants in 2020! We're looking forward to another great year. Don't forget: applications for the upcoming cycle are due July 1, 2020 at 11:59 pm. Visit the MHT webpage for more information.


There Is Much to Celebrate — and Remember — during LGBTQ Pride Month

By Sue Ferentinos, PhD

Pride Month takes place each June to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising, a spontaneous protest that occurred in New York City on June 28-July 3, 1969, after police raided a gay bar in Greenwich Village. This event, which sparked a new era of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) visibility, was important enough that LGBTQ Pride marches have been held every June since 1970 to celebrate that momentous turning point in history. But in a nice coincidence, June is also the month when the U.S. Supreme Court has issued many significant decisions affecting LGBTQ lives, yet another reason to celebrate.

In fact, 2020 has been one such year. Just this month, on June 15, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that LGBTQ workers are protected from employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Prior to this decision, a person could be legally fired in twenty-nine states because of their sexual or gender identity. The decision is a huge victory for LGBTQ civil rights in and of itself, and it opens the door for similar judicial interpretations about LGBTQ discrimination in housing, education, and public accommodations.


Activists rally in support of LGBTQ workers’ rights in front of the Supreme Court on October 8, 2019. Image by Elvert Barnes via Wikimedia, cc-by-sa-2.0 license.

In Maryland, lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers were already protected against employment discrimination, thanks to the efforts of local activists who succeeding in getting legislation passed in 2001. Protection for transgender workers came later, in 2014. Still, even in Maryland, it used to be legal — and for many people, expected — to deny employment to someone based on their sexual or gender identity. Take, for example, the 1976 firing of Shannon Powell in Salisbury, Maryland. Powell, a transwoman, was dismissed from her job at Read’s Pharmacy on her first day of work, when her employer discovered that her driver’s license listed her sex as male. Powell initiated a lawsuit on the basis of sex discrimination — an interesting strategy, given that it mirrors the legal argument that, forty-four years later, would sway the Supreme Court. Powell’s case was dismissed before trial, but it serves as both an ongoing reminder of the discrimination LGBTQ people have faced and a testament to the fact that LGBTQ people have been fighting for equal treatment under the law, in places large and small, for decades.

In June 2015, LGBTQ people gained another major legal protection when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. Again, Maryland had already granted its citizens this right, legalizing same-sex marriage in 2012 after years of effort on the part of LGBTQ Marylanders. However, the state played an important role in the case that ultimately led to the Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v. Hodges. James Obergefell and John Arthur were a couple living in Cincinnati, Ohio, when Arthur was diagnosed with ALS, a fatal neurological disease, in 2011. He entered hospice care in 2013, and the couple decided to legally marry, even though their home state of Ohio did not recognize same-sex marriage at the time. By this time Arthur’s disease had progressed to the point that he needed a medical transport plane to travel to a state that would allow the couple to wed. The couple chose Maryland as their destination, and on July 11, 2013, they flew to Maryland and were wed in the plane on a tarmac at BWI airport, as Arthur was too sick to be moved from his bed. Arthur died three months later, and Obergefell sued the state of Ohio to recognize his Maryland marriage certificate and list him as surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 in Obergefell’s favor. The effect of this decision was to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the United States.


James Obergefell (left), the plaitiff in Obergefell v. Hodges, and his lawyer Al Gerhardstein. Image by Elvert Barnes via Wikimedia, cc-by-sa-2.0 license.

Although progress may seem painfully slow, recognition of LGBTQ rights has gained momentum, especially in the last 20 years. Only a decade before James Obergefell married John Arthur, in June 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that it was unconstitutional for states to outlaw private, consensual homosexual acts in Lawrence v. Texas. Unfortunately, this ruling came a half-century too late for the nine men who were arrested at a New Year’s party in a private home in Baltimore in 1955. The arresting officers found no evidence of sexual activity beyond “kissing and dancing;” however, they arrested all nine men in attendance, on the charge of being present in a “disorderly house.” At that point in history, simply being at an all-male gathering in a private home was grounds for police intervention. The fact that the party’s hosts were an African American man and a European American man who described themselves as “intimate friends” — and that the majority of the guests were African American — likely further incensed the arresting officers.



Susan Ferentinos (left), author of the Maryland LGBTQ Historic Context Study, and Meagan Baco, communications director at Preservation Maryland, prepare for one of five public meetings held throughout the state in June 2019, as part of the context study project. Photo credit: Meagan Baco.

The examples I cited are just a few of the stories currently being uncovered as part of an effort to identify sites related to Maryland LGBTQ history. This project, led by Preservation Maryland, is supported by funding from the Maryland Historical Trust’s Historic Preservation Non-Capital Grant Program and the Certified Local Government Program. The first project phase will result in a Maryland LGBTQ Historic Context Study to assist preservationists in evaluating properties with LGBTQ associations. The second phase will result in three National Register of Historic Places nominations and two additional entries to the Maryland Inventory of Historic Places in Baltimore City and Montgomery County. Studying and preserving the history of LGBTQ Marylanders enriches our understanding of the wider past and reminds us that sexual and gender variance has been a part of Maryland society since its beginning.

Coming Soon! Women's Centennial Summit


The 2020 Women's Centennial Summit will take place as a virtual event on August 26 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm. This event is sponsored by the Maryland Commission for Women in partnership with the Foundation for the Maryland Commission for Women and the Maryland Commission on the Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Passage of the 19th Amendment, on which MHT serves. Please save the date and plan to join us online!

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Caravaning for Votes: The Margaret Brent Pilgrimage to St. Mary’s City by Elizabeth Hughes, MHT Director 

The Civil Rights Movement, Segregation, & Slavery in Maryland: A (Brief) Reading List by Lara Westwood, Librarian

Saving the Historic Sang Run Election House (Guest Blog) by Ken Dzaack, Deep Creek Lake State Park

Year One of PreserveMaryland II, the Statewide Preservation Plan by Nell Ziehl, Office of Planning, Education and Outreach

Documenting Maryland's Dairy Industry by Heather Barrett, Research & Survey Administrator

Gertrude Sawyer: Pioneer and Architect by Annie Allen, Architectural Survey Data Specialist