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The BCHS Baltimore Book Collection

The aim of the Baltimore City Historical Society’s BALTIMORE BOOK COLLECTION is to assemble in one place copies of every book ever published about Baltimore.

What is a Baltimore book and why does the Baltimore City Historical Society want it?

A Baltimore book is a book about Baltimore or by a Baltimore author. Baltimore history in all of its many categories, biography, fiction and poetry, art, architecture, and music, memoirs and reminiscences, guidebooks, journals, and pamphlets are all welcome at the Baltimore City Historical Society’s BALTIMORE BOOK COLLECTION.

Writers as famous and as varied as Edgar Allan Poe, John Pendleton Kennedy, Frederick Douglass, H. L. Mencken, Upton Sinclair, James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Anne Tyler have called Baltimore home at one time or another. Fitzgerald wrote Tender is the Night here; Mencken published Fitzgerald’s first short story in The Smart Set. And so on.

The Baltimore City Historical Society wants to put the books of these authors and the works of the many other writers who lived here and wrote about it together in one place. The distinction of the BALTIMORE BOOK COLLECTION from the major collections of books on Baltimore at the Maryland Historical Society and the Enoch Pratt Free Library will be its environment. Having all of the histories of Baltimore, for example, or all of the titles of a single Baltimore author gathered in the same place will itself be illuminating and will create a critical mass to inspire future literary endeavors and scholarship.

The idea for the BALTIMORE BOOK COLLECTION came from John Carroll Byrnes, founder and first president of the Baltimore City Historical Society, who donated his own collection of Baltimore books to start it off. The BALTIMORE BOOK COLLECTION now consists of some 400 book titles as well as periodicals, and is growing.

The collection is currently housed in the Skylight Room at The Bar Library, located on the 6th Floor of the Mitchell Courthouse at 100 N. Calvert Street  It has been cataloged and arranged and is now available for public use.

Contributions are welcome. Most of the books in the current BALTIMORE BOOK COLLECTION are contemporary, so gifts of 19th century classics of local history, important periodicals, neighborhood histories, and Baltimore City Directories would be especially welcome.

Donations of individual books can be mailed to:

   Baltimore City Historical Society
   c/o Maryland Historical Society
   201 W. Monument St.
   Baltimore, MD 21201

The Baltimore City Historical Society can also appraise and pick up book collections. Call 410-685-3750, ext. 379.




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