Special Collections Department
Special Collections preserves and provides access to the Library's unique and historically significant materials. The library has collected personal papers of important Marylanders, rare books, historical items like greeting cards, post cards and scrapbooks, as well as works of art from local and internationally known artists.
Collections of Note:
Cator Collection of Baltimore Views
This is a collection of nearly 200 etchings, engravings, watercolors, prints and other lithographs, from 1752 to 1930. The images provide a visual timeline from the city's beginnings, through the civil war era, and into the early twentieth century.
The Enoch Pratt Free Library Archives
The archives begin with the conception and creation of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (1852) and currently continues through Bernard Steiner’s term as second library director (1926). Correspondence, photographs and institutional papers document the establishment and early growth of one of the oldest free public libraries.
Baltimore sculptor Reuben Kramer donated his personal archive of mounted photographs, newspaper clippings, letters, invitations, and mementos covering his artistic career.
Greeting Card Collection
Over 71,000 greeting cards, from 1870 to 1988, make up a collection of more than 100 years of American family life, holiday celebration, and changes in the greeting card industry. The majority of the cards are for Christmas, with the rest dedicated to Valentine’s Day, Easter, and other celebrations.
Edgar Allan Poe Collection
This collection has correspondence, papers, and personal items of Edgar Allan Poe and his family members. It also includes some of the most important letters about Poe’s death in Baltimore. The effort of Sara Sigourney Rice to erect a monument to Poe is documented, as are prints of the author, early commemorations, and reprints of his work. The collection also has several first editions and other important works by and about Poe.
Lizette Woodworth Reese Collection
Manuscripts, correspondence, ephemera and published works of the prize-winning poet, teacher, and Maryland Poet Laureate. The collection also includes some photographs, personal items, and a signed collection of her works. Collection Dates: 1848-1930
Maryland Wine and Food Society of Baltimore
The collection includes both administrative material and an outstanding collection of menus from themed membership dinners (1947-1990) showcasing the society’s embrace of local and international cuisine.
Mary Carter Smith Collection
Teacher, writer, poet, and nationally renowned storyteller, Mary Carter Smith was a founding member of Big Sisters International, cofounder of the National Association of Black Storytellers, and was inducted in the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. She donated her entire collection (1943-2003) of personal journals to the library.
Aaron Sopher - Drawings and Watercolors
Aaron Sopher (1905-1972) was a well-known Baltimore artist who attended what is now the Maryland Institute College of Art, and was an illustrator for the Baltimore Sun and The New Yorker. This collection of drawings and watercolors was created for the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Maryland.
This collection of Rare Books was donated by Frederick Philip Stieff, a writer on wine and food and president of the Wine and Food Society of Baltimore. The books cover a wide range of cookery including recipe books, the provisioning of households, the history of beer, wine, and other beverages as well as histories of inns and taverns.
This collection of more than 1000 original posters represents the social history of the world wars and shows how art and advertising were used to convey social, economic, and political ideas.
Woman Suffrage in Maryland Collection (1884-1928)
This collection documents the struggle for the vote of women in Maryland. It focuses on the period 1910-1920 and the papers of Emma Maddox Funck, President of the Maryland Association of Woman Suffrage. It includes correspondence, convention brochures, organization materials, pamphlets, and newspapers and ephemera.