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by Wendy E. Harris, Volunteer Associate Archivist

Introducing a series describing Washington Grove’s earliest days

Town Archivist Pat Patula and I have recently begun to use an exciting new source of information for researching the early history of Washington Grove. The digital archives of The Washington Post, containing newspaper articles from the years 1877 through 1922, are now available online through ProQuest Historical Newspapers. These can be accessed by anyone who has a Montgomery County Public Library card.

As part of an upcoming series, Pat and I will be using our “From the Archives” reports to tell you what we are learning about our community from these articles, as well as from other digitized historic newspapers such as The Baltimore Sun. These, in combination with documents found in our own Washington Grove archivessome already scanned and entered into the searchable PastPerfect database and some notare proving especially helpful for filling in the various gaps that exist in our historical record.

An example of one such gap spans the years for which the Washington Grove Camp Meeting Association Board of Trustees meeting minutes are either incomplete, nearly illegible, or missing altogether. Unfortunately this includes the first three decades of the Association’s existence, 1873 to 1904. During this period, however, Washington Post reporters filed numerous reports from the Grove, supplying richly detailed accounts of some of the very first camp meetings, descriptions of the earliest structures occupied by meeting attendees (tents and cottages), and names of the original summer residents, most having ties to several of Washington D.C.’s Methodist churches. Pat is now collecting and studying a group of these articles. She will be presenting her findings in the opening installment of our series.

Presently, I am also researching information supplied by the Washington Post’s digital archives. On June 8, 1913, the Post reported the election of the very first woman to the Washington Grove Camp Meeting Association Board of Trustees. Her name was Amelia Elmore Huntley and although this particular Post story tells us nothing further about her, other stories mentioning Huntley appear in subsequent editions. Additional descriptions of her activities can be found with the aid of our PastPerfect database. I’ve also been able to retrieve information from documents that have yet to be scanned and entered into our database. Among the most useful are records relating to committees and groups in which Huntley was active. These include the Committee on Grounds and Supplies, the Forestry Committee, the Chautauqua Committee, and the Ladies Guild. If all goes well, my story about her will appear this summer in the Town Bulletin as another installment of our series.

It has been a very satisfying experience to reconstruct aspects of Washington Grove’s history that were not previously known or were never before so easily available to researchers. We are optimistic that by combining the various information sources and research tools described above, we will be able to provide Washington Grove residents with a fuller and more accurate picture of our community’s camp meeting era.

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