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Icon Information on BRG51 - (Department of Recreation and Parks)

Series Information
(Department of Recreation and Parks)

Series Description

This department currently is composed of a bureau of parks, bureau of recreation, and bureau of music. The work of these three bureaus was carried on separately until 1946 when they were merged into the present department.

The creation and maintenance of public parks is the oldest of the department's functions. The first board of park commissioners was appointed in 1860 and empowered to select and purchase land for parks, although there had been some publicly maintained areas before 1860 such as the city springs and Patterson Park donated to the city by William Patterson in 1827. The newly appointed board's first major act was the purchase of Druid Hill Park. In 1898 a department of public parks and squares was created and it continued until it became the bureau of parks in 1946.

The beginning of the playground movement in the 1890s introduced another dimension to the work of the park board. The leaders of this movement believed urban children needed areas set aside for play; by 1915 the need for organized recreation had been proven, through the efforts of local groups 3uch as the Childrens Playground Association and the Public Athletic League, and the municipal government added to its charter "the powor to establish or maintain directly or by contract reasonable facilities for public recreation." The city worked in conjunction with the Childrens Playground Association and the Public Athletic League which merged in 1922 to form the Playground Athletic League. In 1940 the city formalized the programs in a department of public recreation, and six years later it became the bureau of recreation.

Baltimore's music program began with concerts in the parks as early as 1865. The park board sponsored a band beginning in 1900 and in 1914 increased neighborhood concerts. The following year the city appropriated funds for a municipal symphony orchestra which gave its first concert in February 1916. Two years later the city appointed a director of music to coordinate the city's various musical activities, a position that evolved into the bureau of music and later in the department of recreation and parks.

See Allen Kerr Bond, "The Parks of Baltimore," Baltimore: Its History and Its People, ed. Clayton Coleman Flail, 3 vols. (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1912), I: 430-46; F.C. Latrobe, History of the Public Parks in Baltimore (Baltimore, 1896); Kenneth Clark, Baltimore "Cradle of Municipal Music" (Baltimore: City of Baltimore, 1938); res. 227 (1860); Baltimore City Charter of 1915, sect. 6B; Baltimore City Code, 1976 ed., art. 21.

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A series of scrapbooks documenting newspaper coverage of the program activities of the department of recreation and parks. The following subjects are frequently discussed in these articles: professional sports such as baseball, football, soccer, and golf; construction and public controversies about the construction and use of Memorial Stadium; segregation in the parks, swimming pools, and golf courses during the 1950s and early 1960s; maintenance and construction of monuments; acquistion and development of public parks; the department's interest and involvement in historic preservation, especially regarding sites on or near park land; activities, retirements, and obituaries of prominent department employees; urban renewal projects; environmental issues regarding park land; amateur sports events, primarily golf and tennis, on public facilities; construction of interstates and other transportation facilities near or on public property; and crime and vandalism on or near parks and other recreational facilities.

Most of the newspaper clippings are from the Sunpapers, News American, and Afro-American. The volumes for 1950 and 1951 have rough indexes attached.

  Details1938-1983Leadership Manuals

Administrative manuals, policies and procedures, memorandums, property inventories, and recreational guidelines generated by the department. Also included is a handbook produced by the National coordinator of Visual Arts and Crafts.

A file folder listing is available.


Photographs documenting the activities of the Arts and Crafts Division. Subjects include: recreation centers; projects; exhibitions; shows; and festivals.

A file folder listing is available.

  Details1897-1974Harold Callowhill Collection

This series, composed of awards, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and photographs, documents the life of Harold Scott Callowhill. Myrtle Callowhill, his widow, compiled and arranged by date the collection in four scrapbooks. In May of 1988 she donated the scrapbooks to the Baltimore City Archives.

Harold Callowhill retired in 1966 as Director of the Bureau of Recreation. His career in athletics and team sports dated from his youth. However, he first became associated with the Municipal Athletic Programs in 1923 when he began working with the Public Athletic League. In 1926 he became a City Field Leader in the League. In this position his assignments involved promoting boy's athletics on a city-wide basis.

When Dr. William Burdick died in 1935 Callowhill became Director of the Public Athletic League. He continued as head when the League was reorganized and became the Department of Public Recreation in 1940. In 1947 the Public Recreation Department became the Bureau of Recreation. Callowhill became Director and continued in that position until his retirement in February of 1966.

During his tenure as Director of the City's recreation and athletic programs Harold Callowhill began a number of programs. Among them were: a "Street Club Program," "Special Service to Youth," "Senior Citizens Program," "Junior and Senior Volunteer Corps," and programs for the physically handicapped.

After his retirement he organized and taught a program in recreation leadership at the Baltimore Junior College (now Community College of Baltimore). Harold Callowhill died on July 15, 1974 fourteen days before his seventy-seventh birthday.

A file folder listing is available at the Archives.

  Details1864-1981Meeting Minutes, Board of Park Commissioners

Minutes and proceedings of the Board of Park Commissioners meetings.

Volumes from 1903 to 1981 are preceded by an Index.

There is a file folder Index available at the BCA.

Restricted to microfilm BCA 5393-5399.

Note: Became Board of Recreation and Parks in 1947.

  Details1878-1977Annual Reports, Board of Park Commissioners

Annual reports submitted by the Board of Park Commissioners regarding their activities for the previous year.

There is a file folder Index available at the BCA.

  Details1827-1917Park Deeds, Leases, and Condemnations

Copies of deeds, leases and condemnations of property obtained by the Parks Department either by donation or by purchase.

There is a file folder Index available at the BCA.

  Details1918-1919Children's Playground AssociationPamphlets documenting the activities promoted by the Children's Playground Association of Baltimore.BRG51-8
  Details1987Citizens Park SurveyA printed report of a survey done of Baltimore citizens related to parks, playgrounds, and recreation centers, prepared by Hollander, Cohen Assoc. Inc for Parks & People, Foundation for Baltimore Recreation & Parks, paid for through a UPARR grant.BRG51-9
  Details1960-1985Arts and Crafts Administration MaterialVarious files relating to progams and activies as well as financesBRG51-10
 Details1960-1985Administrative FilesAdministrative papers of Jack Goembel, Arts and Crafts Division Supervisor. Includes memos, notes from staff meetings, staff bulletins, ect.BRG51-11
 Details1960-1985Arts and Craft BulletinsBulletins printed for use by personnel working in Recreation Centers givings lists of material needed, directions for the crafts, and illustrations of various arts and craft. BRG51-12
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