history | WYPR


Nearly 200 years after her birth, Harriet Tubman, who led escaped slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, was honored over the weekend with the opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center near her birthplace in Dorchester County.

The $22 million park on the edge of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, was eight years in the planning. Then-President Barack Obama named the site a national monument in March of 2013, the 100th anniversary of her death. The visitor center rises from the marshes, fields and woodlands that still look much as they did during  Tubman’s life.

Lisa Morgan / WYPR

If you visit the fourth floor of the Baltimore City Chief Medical Examiner’s office, you’ll see a series of what appear to be dollhouses. They feature fully furnished scenes complete with antique fixtures and everyday household items. They're inhabited by what, at first glance, appear to be regular dolls. At least, until you notice the dolls are laid out like dead bodies. 

Sketch of Charles Torrey, originally published in "Memoir of the Rev. Charles T. Torrey" by J. P. Lovejoy.
Public Domain

Psychiatric researcher E. Fuller Torrey’s mother told him he had a famous ancestor, a preacher who had made a big impact as an abolitionist back in the 1840s. This distant cousin, Charles Turner Torrey, was said to have personally driven 400 slaves to freedom and had inspired John Brown to take a militant stand against slavery.

How Maryland Became Maryland

Mar 25, 2014
The Maryland Dove, a recreation of The Dove that sailed from England to Maryland.
Acroterion / Wikimedia Commons

Three-hundred and eighty years ago today, the first permanent Maryland colonists stepped off their ships, The Ark and The Dove, and onto St. Clement’s Island in what is now St. Mary’s County. The group of around 140 people was led by Leonard Calvert, brother of Cecilius Calvert, who held the charter for the colony and the title of Lord Baltimore. For more than a century, Marylanders have taken time out on this day to remember the history of the Free State.


Church of the Messiah burning at Fayette and Gay Streets
Public Domain

  One-hundred ten years ago this Friday, Baltimore could be seen as a glow in the night sky for miles around the city. It wasn’t the city lights that generated the glow but a wind-stoked fire that ravaged much of the city’s downtown. The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 is considered the third worst fire to hit an American city and it shaped downtown in ways still visible today.