The Southern Maryland Studies Center (SMSC) at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) seeks contributions from the community in order to capture and record real-time observations and perceptions of current events.
“We are all a part of a remarkable time in this nation’s history,” said SMSC Archivist Maria Leighton. “The COVID-19 pandemic and the #BlackLivesMatter movement are defining and – in some cases – redefining us all. So the SMSC mission has never been more important. We need citizen contributors and volunteer archivists more today than ever before.”
SMSC is located at the La Plata Campus of the college and provides a central location for researching and sharing historical materials that document Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties, along with the southern portions of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties. Founded in 1976, the archive houses hundreds of unique collections that provide valuable insight into the economic, social and political currents that have shape this region. The center’s work focuses on continuous collection and processing to ensure ease of access and use of the history it stores.
“What was once captured through carvings on cave walls and then notations in the family bible is now shared through social media in the palm of our hands,” Leighton continued. “How and what we communicate is always evolving, but keeping records of our experiences and activities at the Southern Maryland Studies Center will not change. We want to preserve a vast source of material of our shared history for the future.”
The mission of SMSC is to store, preserve, and connect individual elements, in order to give a voice to all present and past residents of Southern Maryland and create a strong base of historical evidence that reflects the events, decisions and outcomes that have shaped local history and culture.
“Your voice, your photos, your videos – will speak to future generations about your experiences and will tell them how life as we knew it happened right before our eyes,” said Leighton. “We welcome contributions from individuals, families, businesses, and institutions.”
Examples of what the public can share with SMSC includes journals, letters, diaries, illustrations, photos, documents, short videos, audio recordings and oral histories or creative writings. The center also holds business records, family and individual collections that offer a wealth of photographs, compiled research notes, news clippings, maps, inventories, surveys, architectural drawings, genealogy and more.
SMSC is committed to sharing the evidence of Southern Maryland’s history and culture through activities such as teaching, organizing cultural events, supporting local historical preservation efforts, and ensuring physical and digital access to its collections for students and faculty, researchers, historians, genealogists and all members of the public.
Since its founding, SMSC has been led by distinguished history and information professionals who have developed and cared for the archival collections and built relationships with local communities and institutions. Today, SMSC has a team of two: Leighton, and Archives Assistant Shannon Neal. Volunteers also help the center run.
“While CSM staff continues to work remotely, our volunteer citizen archivists have been busy working hard at transcribing historical documents,” Leighton said. “For us, this is a labor of love.”
To contact SMSC, call 301-934-7606; email SMSC@csmd.edu or visit us online at https://www.csmd.edu/community/southern-maryland-studies-center/.