“We have all seen old buildings, peeping out from behind screens of brush, sinking slowly back into the earth, farms and stores and homes whispering to us of the past. Merideth Taylor amplifies their voices, giving us brief, poignant, and evocative glimpses into the lives, loves, and losses that these buildings have seen. LISTENING IN is a stunning, gripping, beautiful, and important book.”
—Elizabeth Pickard, Director of Interpretation at the Missouri History Museum
St. Mary’s County is where colonial Maryland began, with the establishment of St. Mary’s City on the site of an ancient Yaocomico village as Maryland’s first capital in 1634. Southern Maryland has been home to human occupation for at least 12,000 years, and since 1634 the area has seen myriad changes through the rise and fall of tobacco agriculture and its associated enslaved labor to its current status as a bedroom community to Washington, DC, and as home to the Patuxent Naval Air Station. Although historically rural, the area is slowly giving rise to suburban development, and so ties to the past become increasingly important.
In LISTENING IN, Merideth Taylor provides a captivating, even pioneering approach to capturing the land and life of Maryland’s “mother county.” She integrates her own engaging photographs of buildings of all kinds, many of them in disrepair, with imaginative text called “ghost stories” that relate to the photographs in one way or another. These stories are based on living oral histories that Taylor has heard over the many years she has lived in the area. And so we gain a true sense of what life in St. Mary’s County was–and the place it is becoming.
Merideth Taylor is Professor Emerita of Theater and Dance at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a prizewinning documentary filmmaker, and coeditor of In Relentless Pursuit of an Education: African American Stories from a Century of Segregation. She has been honored by the St. Mary’s County Branch NAACP with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her use of the performing arts to produce positive social change.
Publication Date: May 2018
164 pages 8 x 10; 148 color photos.
$39.95 T Cloth ISBN 978-1-938086-55-7