The Soul of Baltimore

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the WJZ-TV and WMAR-TV Collections at the Langsdale Library hold approximately three hundred 2-inch Quad reels that are in need of digitization to preserve their unique audiovisual content. One of these reels was digitized recently and uploaded to the Internet Archive. It read on its original label ,“Master: SOUL OF BALTIMORE 27:51”. The term “master” indicates that this is the highest quality version of this content. 

After researching historical newspaper databases, this title was found to potentially be a 1968 WMAR-produced special entitled, “The Soul of Baltimore”. This seemed like a great candidate to digitize as it was about the history of Baltimore’s Pennsylvania Avenue, the center of the city’s African American community in the first half of the twentieth century. The special is also narrated by Walter P. Carter, civil rights activist and chairman of the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). After digitization, the content on the video reel was found to match the content on the label, as well as having ten minutes at the end of the reel that had not been recorded over or erased. These “extras” included 1960s era broadcast footage of two other WMAR-produced shows, a few commercials, and a few minutes of a nationally syndicated show, “Truth or Consequences”.

“The Soul of Baltimore” is especially powerful to watch in light of the recent uprising and protests surrounding the death of Sandtown-Winchester resident Freddie Gray, as many of these events transpired on or near Pennsylvania Avenue. You can watch the entirety of “The Soul of Baltimore” below.

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