- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 2, 2006

Patriotic Americans will be singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key tomorrow to celebrate Independence Day. W. Eric Emerson, the new executive director of the Maryland Historical Society, can sing along to the original, handwritten version if he wants; the manuscript is one of the 6.2 million documents and books held by the Maryland Historical Society.

“He is going to lead the historical society with great strength and passion,” board Chairman Barbara Katz said. “The board is very pleased. We look forward to a long tenure.”

Founded in 1844, the Maryland Historical Society collects and studies artifacts from Maryland’s history, develops educational programs, and operates three museums, the Library of Maryland History, and a press that publishes books on Maryland’s history. The society has about 4,800 members.

Before his appointment last week, Mr. Emerson had been executive director and chief financial officer of the South Carolina Historical Society since 2003, where he expanded membership and made the catalog of the society’s document collection available online. He became the interim director of the group in 2001.

“Eric’s a great guy and we are excited to have him as a director,” said Jay Griswold, director of Brown Advisory, an investment firm in Baltimore and the head of the search committee. “He did a wonderful job in South Carolina and we are very lucky to have him.”

Mr. Emerson’s plans for the society include increasing membership across the state, specifically in areas with low membership, expanding educational programs, drawing more visitors to the Mount Vernon campus in Baltimore, and making the society a “lifelong educational center regarding Maryland’s history.”

“I would like to see Maryland’s schoolchildren spend more time studying the state’s history,” Mr. Emerson said. “I want to make this institute a resource that children throughout the state can consult whenever they want to learn something about Maryland history.”

Mr. Emerson received a doctorate in history from the University of Alabama in August 2002. He received a bachelor of arts degree in history from the University of North Carolina in 1987. He is the author of “Sons of Privilege: The Charleston Light Dragoons in the Civil War,” published in October. He also co-edited “Charleston: Alone Among the Cities,” a compilation of photos from the South Carolina Historical Society’s collection.

In 1998, Mr. Emerson became editor of the South Carolina Historical Magazine, a publication begun in 1900 and part of the South Carolina Historical Society. In 2000, he became editor in chief of all of the group’s publications, including the Carologue.

In graduate school, Mr. Emerson edited the annual journal Southern Historian at the University of Alabama. He was an Army officer after college until May 1990 and a bakery manager for snack manufacturer Lance until 1994.

A native of Charlotte, N.C., Mr. Emerson, 39, soon will move to the Baltimore-Washington region with his wife, Cathy, and daughters, Grace and Claire.

— Marie Tyler

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