For more than 25 years, Jean Thompson has been a private history scavenger and detective, pursuing what she calls "pieces of The Dream."
"The Dream," as articulated by noted bibliophiles, historians and curators, is to reveal untold, hidden, forgotten or lost stories about the American experience in ways that instill cultural understanding and cultivate pride. The "pieces" that tell the stories include ephemera -- documents, photographs, advertising and other paper records, including items that might have been thrown away rather than saved. These include ancestral belongings, books, artworks, sheet music, souvenirs and other objects of material culture that evoke a specific era, event or place.
"Private collections are vital repositories: major institutions of art, culture and learning have been built with objects preserved first in private homes," says Thompson. "With guidance from many in the field, I specified in my will that when the time is right, I would 'send home' items that can serve their highest and best purposes as part of other collections or institutional holdings. My will specifies the Enoch Pratt Free Library as a major recipient of the collection, so that materials deemed relevant to the larger story of Baltimore and Maryland will remain here."
Guest speaker: Hari Jones, African American Civil War Museum, on "Adding a Powerful Ally: Lincoln's Colored Troops."