'Star-Spangled Banner' manuscript taken from Baltimore for safekeeeping

On Tuesday the National Archives came to Baltimore to take our handwritten copy of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' from the Maryland Historical Society's West Monument Street offices, a source tells City Paper.

The source did not want to be identified because, after City Paper asked the Historical Society about the effort, there were cautionary emails sent to Historical Society employees saying not to talk about it. The source said the documents included the original manuscript of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' penned by Francis Scott Key but was not sure what other documents were taken.

They were taken for safekeeping the day after riots erupted in Baltimore after the funeral of Freddie Gray. The source says there was no indication of panic, just caution at a building full of priceless artifacts in a neighborhood where shops had been looted. "It's not like we won't get them back," the source says.

Laura Rodini, the Historical Society's marketing director, confirmed that the National Archives had come, but did not respond to a follow-up email seeking details about which documents were removed, how long they would be gone, etc.

"We have a great relationship with The National Archives, and they were here to pick up a few documents for conservation," Rodini wrote. "We are proud to maintain strong contacts with both the Maryland State Archives and the National Archives.

"We also wanted to let you know that, later today, we will be issuing a public call for photographs documenting both the unrest and the cleanup efforts throughout Baltimore. We believe this is an important topic for public history, and we have the resources to interpret these events as well as what has happened in the past. We also plan on collecting objects and oral histories in the coming weeks."

National Archives' public relations staff did not reply to multiple messages left with the office.


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