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Folklore and History of Maryland

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This site will be continually updated.

I have had a life long interest in folklore, especially oral history and legends (also see my page on Toasts). My interest in folklore dates back to my early childhood: the very first book I read in my elementary school's library was on ghosts, with the famous photo of the Brown Lady on the cover. I was very interested in such mysterious anomalies as cryptozoology (the study of unknown animals), medieval legends and the supernatural. Even my favorite TV shows as a kid -- "Scooby Doo" and "Land of the Lost" -- incorporated the supernatural.

My current intense focus on Maryland's folklore and history was particularly inspired by a couple of films: John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness and Stephen King's Rose Red. There is a church that is the home of an ancient evil in Hobbes End, New Hampshire in In the Mouth of Madness. After watching the film, I decided to increase the depth of my knowledge of Maryland's history - to know about Maryland's antiquities, both before and after European settlement. (I knew about the Ark and the Dove and had visited St. Mary's City in High School, but there is a lot more to Maryland's history than the Calverts). Rose Red is about a haunted house set in Seattle that I gleaned was based on the real-life Winchester "Mystery" House which is in San Jose. This transplanting of a legend to another site made me realize how ignorant I was of Maryland-specific folklore.

The first books I read in my new quest for Maryland knowledge were folklore books by George Carey (the former Maryland State Folklorist) and Donald Shomette's books on shipwrecks. I narrowed my focus from all of Maryland to the Eastern Shore. Presently I have narrowed my research even further to Queen Anne’s County, because it includes Kent Island, Maryland’s oldest permanent settlement. Donald Shomette’s book Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay and Other Tales of the Lost Chesapeake detailed the original settlement and conflict over Kent Island and piqued my interest. I have read Stephanie Hall’s Masters thesis, Cruising for Ghosts: A Context for Storytelling on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She told me how development and de-forestation has drastically changed the area since her fieldwork. I am also studying the effects of sprawl, especially because the area has radically changed since the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge (AKA the Bay Bridge) opened in 1952. It has become a critical time for folklore research in this region as the effects of development may permanently change the folklore traditions and belief systems with integration into the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. So far my research has all been secondary research in libraries, the intenet and the World Wide Web. I plan to mine the existing folklore archives in Maryland and DC in order to compare past field work with the field work I plan to do myself. Part of my folklore training has begun, as I am attending a Masters program in folklore.

If you have tales or legends that you would like to share with me, or know of someone else who I should contact, please email me at FunkMasterJ@runbox.com.

Jordan Rich

ã(Copyright) 2003 Jordan Rich - All Rights Reserved. Last Updated - September 15, 2003

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