BCHS Board Members Mary Jane Arnold and Don Torres Step Down

Mary Jane Arnold (l) and Don Torres (r)

Mary Jane Arnold (l) and Don Torres (r)

For almost fifteen years, Mary Jane Arnold and Don Torres have been collaborating to keep the Baltimore City Historical Society running, both at public events and behind the scenes, and when they step down this year, they will be missed. At public events, they have been vital to BCHS’s outreach. At the History Honors and Annual Meeting, they have greeted people at welcome tables, while at community events like the Book Festival and special events like the centennial celebration of the Lake Montebello Filtration Plant, they organized and staffed BCHS’ booths. They regularly attend History Evenings at the Village Learning Place. They faithfully attend board meetings, where their institutional memory and experience provides instructive guidance in the board’s deliberations. They have served as chairs of standing committees, such as membership, on ad hoc committees addressing finite projects, and as officers of the Society. Behind the scenes, this team has kept the gears of BCHS oiled since they started working on the membership committee in the mid-2000s. They come into the office every week to do necessary, but often overlooked, work, opening mail, reading emails, listening to voice mails and directing information to where it is needed. They each admit that they couldn’t do this work without the other person. For maintaining the membership records, Mary Jane sits at the computer, reading emails and dictating to Don who needs to be taken off the membership list. Don reads out names for Mary Jane to enter into the membership database. Mary Jane manages the computer, while Don answers phone calls and sends thank you letters to donors. Don has also managed the growing BCHS history book collection. When the collection grew too large for the BCHS to house at its office in the Maryland Historical Society, Don visited possible outside repositories for it. Ultimately, he negotiated dedicated space at the Baltimore City Bar Association Library, where it is now available for public use.

BCHS wouldn’t exist without Judge John Carroll Byrnes, and Mary Jane and Don both credit his persuasion as the reason they joined the board. As an inspector for the Baltimore City Health Department, Don would visit the City Life Museum at lunch, and he was generally interested in the history of the neighborhoods and places he inspected. In 2003, he met Judge Byrnes, and inspired to help in the preservation of Baltimore history, Don offered to check the mail and do some basic data entry. In 2004, he joined the board. Mary Jane met Judge Byrnes in 2006, after the BCHS established the Arnold Prize in honor of her husband, the late UMBC Professor of History Joseph L. Arnold. At the time of his death, Dr. Arnold’s manuscripts and files represented over thirty years of research on the history of Baltimore. Today, she can’t remember if Judge Byrnes asked her to join the board or if she offered. She became Secretary and then started working with Don on the membership database. They are both excited by the growth of the board, the great work of the education committee, and improving the organization’s online presence and messaging. They will continue volunteering with BCHS, and will always be dedicated to preserving Baltimore’s history. “We may be leaving,” says Mary Jane, and Don finishes her sentence, “But we’re not disappearing.”

Baltimore City Historical Society 2019 Annual Meeting

The Baltimore City Historical Society held its 2019 annual Meeting to elect directors and officers on Saturday, June 29, at the Locust Point Community Church.

Incoming President Betsy Nix presented outgoing President Mike Franch with a token of the BCHS’s gratitude and remarked, “Over many years Mike Franch has provided BCHS with invaluable service by managing our extremely active  Facebook group  and organizing the  Baltimore History Evenings . Last year he agreed to step into the presidency when BCHS needed a leader. Through his genial communications and encouragement of task forces devoted to individual projects, he guided the organization into a more sustainable future. The board thanked him for his work with the gift of a numbered Baltimore icons print by Kari Miller of the local  Tiny Dog Press .”

Incoming President Betsy Nix presented outgoing President Mike Franch with a token of the BCHS’s gratitude and remarked, “Over many years Mike Franch has provided BCHS with invaluable service by managing our extremely active Facebook group and organizing the Baltimore History Evenings. Last year he agreed to step into the presidency when BCHS needed a leader. Through his genial communications and encouragement of task forces devoted to individual projects, he guided the organization into a more sustainable future. The board thanked him for his work with the gift of a numbered Baltimore icons print by Kari Miller of the local Tiny Dog Press.”

Dr. Nicholas Fessenden, a member of the Board of Directors, presented The Port of Baltimore and the Great Wave of Immigration, 1830-1914 to celebrate the Society’s partnership with the Historical Society of Baltimore County in its Water/Ways Exhibit

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After the meeting attendees were invited to tour the Baltimore Immigration Museum located next door.


 
 

PRESERVATION: Baltimore City Historical Society promotes the study, presentation, and appreciation of history of our city. We work with Baltimore historians to sponsor programs on city history and help museums and universities support their collections of historical documents, records, and artifacts.

EDUCATION: We’re dedicated to helping residents and visitors learn about of our city’s defining moments – and understand Baltimore’s historical and cultural significance. We encourage everyone to take a closer look at the familiar historic sites, notable people, and diverse neighborhoods that are part of everyday life in Baltimore.

COMMUNITY: Through our website, events, archives, and social media, we strive to create a gathering place for those who want to explore and celebrate Baltimore’s rich history and cultural heritage. And we invite everyone to share stories, ask questions, or offer insights by contacting us here.

 

 
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The Baltimore City Historical Society is an all-volunteer organization. We offer free events throughout the year to Baltimore history buffs, but we depend upon yearly membership dues from those of you who are certifiable enthusiasts.

We keep our annual dues low, and have a variety of membership levels. If you join, you can flash your official membership card all around town.

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