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Uncovering Baltimore’s Earliest News Stories With The Baltimore Diary LP

November 17, 2010

My pal Kara Mae is a pretty awesome and voracious record collector, particularly when it comes to old Appalachian/regional stuff. Recently, she dug out an old Ebay find for the Baltimore or Less blog: the News-American‘s Baltimore Diary 1773-1973 LPs.

Compiled for the bicentennial, the collection’s divided into American heritage type tracks like “God Bless America,” “The Twist,” and “Shenandoah,” while “the first [record] is a narrative compiled from stories (and weird classified ads) from The News-American, ‘Baltimore’s first and oldest newspaper’, which ceased publication in 1986,” she writes on her blog,

From the back cover:

We searched through two centuries of behind-the-scenes stories, human interest material and old advertisements . . . and from all this we selected the best to recreate for you the drama, the comedy. . . the very lifeblood feeling of the time. Listen now, as we take you back 200 years and let you ramble around behind the hard facts of history . . .

This then, is the BALTIMORE DIARY – a picture in sound, music and words of what the average Baltimorean experienced during that 200 year span of history – history you never heard in school.

And here are just a few highlights . . .

  • You’ll hear an excerpt from a public notice written by George Washington for the first issue of our newspaper – seeking settlers for land Mr. Washington surveyed near Fort Pitt in Pennsylvania.
  • Stand on the harbor’s shore as a mob forces a merchant to burn his ship because of the cargo it carried.
  • View the conditions of Baltimore’s marketplace, which inspired and indignant letter to the editor.
  • Watch in amazement from a crowd witnessing America’s first balloon ascension – right here in Baltimore.
  • Hear about the first publication of a poem by Francis Scott Key that later became the National Anthem.
  • Join the celebration honoring the beginning of America’s first railroad – the Baltimore and Ohio.
  • Journey on a stagecoach and see how the fear of cholera so frightens the passengers that they take drastic action to avoid the disease.
  • Keep one jump ahead of the police in the search for a safe place to hold America’s first heavyweight championship title fight.
  • See the sights of destruction following one of the many floods from Jones Falls.
  • Ride our country’s first commercial electric streetcar as it clangs out to Hampden.
  • Stand inside in the Catonsville High School gym as casualties come in from a World War II air raid.

You can find audio of both sides of that first record right here.

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