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Center seeks current event observations, perceptions

The Southern Maryland Studies Center at the College of Southern Maryland is looking for 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,” Southern Maryland Studies Center archivist Maria Leighton said in a news release. “The COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement are defining and – in some cases – redefining us all. So the SMSC’s mission has never been more important. We need citizen contributors and volunteer archivists more today than ever before.”

The Southern Maryland Studies Center, which is located on the college’s La Plata campus, 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 shaped 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 said. “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 the Southern Maryland Studies Center 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,” Leighton said. “We welcome contributions from individuals, families, businesses and institutions.”

Examples of what the public can share with the Southern Maryland Studies Center include 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.

The Southern Maryland Studies Center 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, the center 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, it has Leighton and archives assistant Shannon Neal, who are assisted by volunteers.

“While the College of Southern Maryland 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.”

For more information, contact 301-934-7606 or SMSC@csmd.edu, or go to www.csmd.edu/community/southern-maryland-studies-center/.

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