FRIDAY FOCUS: St. Mary’s County Historical Society


OurTudorHall2013-008.jpg history tells a story – of the people before us, their culture, ideals, beliefs and more. Learning about this history builds a connection with them and how they lived. The St. Mary’s County Historical Society (SMCHS) collects, preserves, researches and interprets the history of St. Mary’s County in order to share and educate us on those who came before. Catch up on this week’s Friday Focus as we explore the SMCHS favorite moments, events and challenges from Executive Director, Susan Wolfe. 

Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)
The St. Mary’s County Historical Society (SMCHS) collects, preserves, researches and interprets the history of St. Mary’s County, Maryland.  Its collections are held in trust for the use and education of the public.  They are primarily composed of documentary and archival materials with a focus on the county’s people, places and events.  This information is made available at the Research Center maintained by SMCHS, through publications such as the quarterly Chronicles of St. Mary’s and Tudor Hall Times as well as through programs and exhibits.  We are responsible for maintaining information on the 383-year history of the “Mother County of Maryland.”  SMCHS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
Our favorite moments are when researchers are sitting in our Research Center and realize that another person or family is doing research on their family.  Reunions of family members who may be fifth and sixth cousins (or more) are wonderful.  Because of the migration of county residents to Kentucky and beyond after the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, family members from those states come back to St. Mary’s. 

What is your biggest challenge?
Maintaining and growing our membership is our biggest challenge.  Our membership now totals 644 and those members live in 35 states and Canada – all with a passion for St. Mary’s County history.  In order to continue confidently with our mission work, we need a membership of at least 800.  Our other area of concern in the preservation of Tudor Hall, our headquarters.  This home is over 250 years old and has severe moisture penetration problems.  A structural engineer will evaluate the building this summer and make recommendations as to a plan to stabilize the building and control the moisture.

Are there any upcoming events?
Three years ago, we began an annual program series entitled “Ordinary People… Extraordinary Accomplishments” focusing on the contributions of the county. We have had programs on rye whiskey production and bootlegging, tobacco, oysters and this year, stores as community centers.  Next spring’s program is on the history of horses in the county.  Notices of our upcoming events are available on our website.

How can people get involved with your organization? 
Our website is at www.stmaryshistory.org and contains information on membership, volunteer opportunities and how to do research on the history of the county and its families.  Tudor Hall is located at 41680 Tudor Place, Leonardtown.