111 W. Montgomery Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850
July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015
The summer of 2014 saw significant turnover on the staff of the Society. While big transitions can be difficult, the organization assembled a new team that brought energy and urgency to the Society’s work. Matthew Logan was hired in November as Executive Director, Amanda Elliott began in January as Education and Outreach Coordinator, and Elizabeth Lay joined the organization as Collections Manager in March. In addition, Laura Riese began as Office and Museum Shop Manager in May.
NEW STRATEGIC PLAN
The Society’s Board of Directors adopted a new strategic plan on April 1, 2015 that identifies six primary goals:
1. Embrace our role as the countywide historical organization;
2. Increase the awareness and accessibility of our work;
3. Utilize technology to document, preserve, and make accessible our programs and the items in our library, archive, and museum collections;
4. Explore options for new or expanded facilities to meet our current and future needs;
5. Maximize our revenue streams; and
6. Create strong and sustainable governance, financial, HR, and administrative systems to facilitate future growth.
This plan is designed to stabilize the organization, make its work more widely accessible, and position it for future growth.
In 2015, the Society is launching a new initiative—Access: History—to better secure the future of its priceless artifact and library collections. Our goal is to bring these collections to life for students, researchers, visitors, and the over one million people who call Montgomery County home. This effort will involve a comprehensive assessment of our collections and our facilities, professional conservation and digitization of prioritized collections, and the development of exciting and innovative events, programs, and online tools to make the objects more accessible and meaningful to our stakeholders.
In spite of threatening weather, our annual History Conference on January 24, 2015 attracted over 150 people and featured presentations with a mix of scholarly merit and popular appeal. Session topics included Maryland Emancipation Day, an archeological study of Josiah Henson’s former home, a history of Laytonsville, and a look at the one- and two-room schoolhouses in the county.
The Montgomery County History Day competition, held on March 14, 2015 at Richard Montgomery High School, was a great success for the county’s young people. Final numbers: 200 students (up from 130 in 2014), 16 schools, 23 teachers, 125 entries, and 60 volunteer judges. Fifty-five students represented Montgomery County at the State competition at UMBC on May 2. Of these, 15 students from Montgomery County advanced to the National History Day competition at the University of Maryland, College Park in June. We are very pleased to report that four Montgomery County students won special prizes and acknowledgements at the National level.
The Bureau’s cadre of 26 historians and authors was quite busy during FY15, offering 133 programs, presentations, portrayals, and reenactments to an estimated audience of 4,300. In FY15 we added two exciting new programs to our menu of speakers: Laytonsville: From Crossroads to Community and Capital Splendor-Gardens and Parks of Washington DC (Including Montgomery County).
A promising new endeavor is the partnership between the Speakers Bureau and the Montgomery College Lifelong Learning Institute. During FY15, we offered five multi-session classes at Montgomery College: Rockville history (including a guided walking tour); Montgomery County, and women, in the Civil War; and classes on the history of towns and places in Montgomery County. This partnership is continuing in FY16, with three multi-session classes scheduled for this fall.
150th Commemoration of the Battle of Fort Stevens
On July 12, 2014, MCHS participated in this National Park Service event at the Fort Stevens historic site. MCHS set up it Civil War era tent and partnered with other re-enactors to offer a day-long program of battlefield medical and surgical care.
Happy Birthday, Montgomery County!
On Saturday, September 6, 2014, the Society celebrated the 238th birthday of the county’s founding at the Beall-Dawson House with a day of crafts, games, and, of course, the cutting of the birthday cake.
Ghost Story Night
On October 29, MCHS hosted a crowd-pleasing Ghost Story Night in the Beall-Dawson House. It was a fun family activity with re-enactors and storytellers sharing ghost stories based on actual historic people and events in Montgomery County.
Maryland Emancipation Day
On November 1, 2015, 150 years to the day that Maryland freed all slaves within its borders, MCHS commemorated the occasion at our Rockville campus with musical performances, period reenactments, and story-telling. President Lincoln spent the afternoon with the visitors and made several speeches about slavery and congratulating the people of Maryland on their support of emancipation.
On June 27 and 28, we participated in Montgomery County’s free Heritage Day event and celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Beall-Dawson House. Volunteers led special tours, the Genealogy Club held a book sale, Clarence Hickey was on hand as Dr. Stonestreet discussing Civil War-era medicine, and we had other hands on demonstrations and special activities for children. The weekend also marked the launch of our first ever pop-up exhibit, Tap Into History: A Century of Typewriters. The “please touch” exhibit showcased typewriters from the 1880’s to the 1980’s, inviting visitors to type their own message on a postcard. The day brought in close to 100 visitors!
MCHS participated in other local county events in FY15:
• Montgomery County Agricultural Fair during August 8-17, 2014
• Montgomery County Annual Farm Tour at Red Wiggler CSA, Clarksburg, July 26, 2014
• Annual Waterford Fair, Waterford, VA, October 4-5, 2014
• National Museum of Civil War Medicine, Frederick, Annual Night at the Museum program, December 13, 2014
“Montgomery Maternity: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Infant Care at the Turn of the 20th Century”
September 2013 through May 2015, Stonestreet Museum of 19th Century Medicine
“Let Your Voice Be Heard!: Civic Activism in Montgomery County”
July 2014 through June 2015, Beall-Dawson House
“A Walk Down the Aisle: Bridal Gown Retrospective”
February 5-26, 2015, Helz Music Room at Kentlands Mansion
“Tap into History: a Century of Typewriters” (A “pop-up exhibit” that invites attendees to use manual typewriters from our collection for a “please touch” experience.)
June 27, 2015, Heritage Days, Beall-Dawson House
June 28, 2015, Bethesda Big Train game, Cabin John Regional Park
Scheduling continues in locations throughout the County.
“Dr. Stonestreet: A 19th Century Country Doctor”
June 18, 2015 through September 2015, Stonestreet Museum of 19th Century Medicine
The Jane C. Sween Research Library received 340 visitors who are now able to utilize a plethora of new primary sources. Among the new acquisitions are:
• The ledger kept by Dr. Samuel Lukens which tracked the patients he saw, their conditions, and his fees from 1805-1807
• Collection of 40 genealogy and local history books from Mary Gordon Malloy
• 1960 Program of Events from the Rockville Centennial
• A history of “Leisure World at 45” by Fred Shapiro
• Several old maps including of the Rockville West End, 1889-1890 and the Street Map of Rockville 1959
• Original diploma from Andrew Small Academy 1897/8, and an original diploma from Briarly Hall Seminary 1904 for Mabel Ward Webb
• 1917 Burpee Seed Catalogue, and Gardening Guide published by Potomac Almanac
The Library worked with OCI, a company in Oklahoma, to have its entire yearbook collection—over 200 annuals in all—digitally scanned and preserved. The goal is to make the information searchable and therefore accessible to future generations.
COUNTY ARCHIVES RE-OPENING
2014 was an exciting year for the Montgomery County Archives. The move into the new space took place on July 29 and three high school students provided 84 hours of SSL service during August to shelve approximately 1,000 cubic feet of record boxes, update finding aids to reflect the materials’ new locations, unpack supplies and equipment, and assist in setting up computers and electronic equipment.
The Archives opened to researchers on October 7 and the grand opening was held on October 22. It is now open to the public 10 hours weekly (Tuesday from 10-4 and Thursday from 12-4) and by appointment. To date there has been 1 record loan, 18 researcher visits, 22 telephone calls, 8 emails, and 35 volunteer hours (not including SSL). Researchers have been interested in a variety of topics including Montgomery Village, school and library buildings, early courthouses, early County Council photographs, police cadets, housing, low income housing, League of Women Voters records, the county charter movement and aerial photographs.
A joint meeting with DGS and MCHS to begin the process of identifying and transferring records from the Records Center and County departments was held in February 2015. A memo that will be sent to each of the departments, with a reminder that the Archives is open and a description of which records are appropriate to be transferred to the Archives, has been drafted and is awaiting county approvals.