USA Famous People of Maryland

Maryland Biographies

Spiro T. Agnew vice president, Baltimore • Spiro T. Agnew Books
Benjamin Banneker mathematician, astronomer, Oella/Ellicott City • Benjamin Banneker Books
John Barth writer, Cambridge • John Barth Books
Clara Barton (1821 - 1912) Founded the American Red Cross, with headquarters located in a home in Glen Echo. The Civil War (18611865) divided the people of the United States. Torn over the issues of slavery and states rights, the North and the South battled against each other in the deadliest American conflict ever fought. When the war ended, the country worked to unite and heal. Some of the people who lived and served during the Civil War era are among the nations most beloved heroes. From a young age, Clara Barton wanted to help people. Her kind nature led her to the battlefield to care for the wounded soldiers of the Civil War. After the war, she eventually traveled to Europe, where she encountered the International Red Cross. Seeing the impact it had providing aid in Europe, Barton worked to create a similar organization in the United States. Her persistence and determination were rewarded when she founded the American Red Cross. • Clara Barton Books
Eubie Blake (1883 - 1983) Ragtime musician and composer who wrote “The Charleston Rag,” in 1899; born in Baltimore. James Hubert Blake (February 7, 1887 – February 12, 1983) was an American composer, lyricist, and pianist of ragtime, jazz, and popular music. In 1921, Blake and long-time collaborator Noble Sissle wrote the Broadway musical Shuffle Along, one of the first Broadway musicals to be written and directed by African Americans. Blake's compositions included such hits as, "Bandana Days", "Charleston Rag", "Love Will Find A Way", "Memories of You", and "I'm Just Wild About Harry". The musical Eubie! featured the works of Blake and opened on Broadway in 1978.

Blake was born at 319 Forrest Street in Baltimore, Maryland to former slaves John Sumner Blake (1838-1917) and Emily "Emma" Johnstone (1861-1927). He was the only surviving child of eight who all died in infancy. In 1894 the family moved to 414 North Eden Street, and later to 1510 Jefferson Street. John Blake worked earning US$9.00 weekly as a stevedore on the Baltimore docks. • Eubie Blake Books • Eubie Blake Discography

John Wilkes Booth (1838 - 1865) The assassin of President Abraham Lincoln; born in Bel Air. John Wilkes Booth (May 10, 1838 - April 26, 1865) was an American stage actor who, as part of a conspiracy plot, assassinated Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865. Following the shooting, Booth fled on horseback to southern Maryland. He eventually made his way to a farm in rural northern Virginia; he was tracked down and killed by Union soldiers 12 days later. Eight others were tried and convicted, and four were hanged shortly thereafter.

Over the years, various authors have suggested that Booth might have escaped his pursuers and subsequently died many years later under a pseudonym. Booth was a member of the prominent 19th century Booth family of actors from Maryland. He was also a Confederate sympathizer and expressed vehement dissatisfaction with the South's defeat in the Civil War. He opposed Lincoln's proposal to extend voting rights to recently emancipated slaves. • John Wilkes Booth Books

Francis X. Bushman actor, Baltimore Francis Xavier Bushman (January 10, 1883 – August 23, 1966) was an American film actor. His matinee idol career started in 1911 in the silent film His Friend's Wife, but it did not survive the silent screen era.

Bushman, like many of his contemporaries, broke into the film business via the stage. He was performing at Broncho Billy Anderson's Essanay Studios in Chicago, Illinois, where he was first noticed for his muscular, sculpted frame. He appeared in nearly 200 feature film roles—more than 175 films before 1920, and 17 in his screen debut year of 1911 alone. He also worked for the Vitagraph studio before signing with Metro in 1915.

Bushman was born in Baltimore, Maryland. As a young man Bushman joined the Maryland Athletic Club and began a body building regiman that would give him his famous film physique. He cited Sandow as one of his body building influences. In New York, he worked as a sculptor's model often posing in the nude in sessions.

In 1902, Bushman married seamstress Josephine Fladune. By the launch of his film career, the couple had five children. In 1918, Bushman was the subject of a national scandal as his affair with longtime costar Beverly Bayne became public.  • Francis X. Bushman Books • Francis X. Bushman Movies

James M. Cain writer, Annapolis • James M. Cain Books
Samuel Chase jurist, Sumerset Cty • Samuel Chase Books
Tom Clancy (1947 -  ) Author of many best-selling books, including The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games; born in Baltimore. an American author, best known for his technically detailed espionage and military science storylines set during and in the aftermath of the Cold War and his video games.

His name is also a brand for similar movie scripts written by ghost writers and many series of non-fiction books on military subjects and merged biographies of key leaders. He is also part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles, a Major League Baseball team. He officially is the Orioles' Vice Chairman of Community Activities and Public Affairs.

A week after the 9/11 attack, on The O'Reilly Factor, Clancy stated that left-wing politicians in the United States were partly responsible for September 11 due to their "gutting" of the CIA.[3] Clancy has also associated himself with General Anthony Zinni, a critic of the George W. Bush administration, and has been critical of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. • Tom Clancy Books

John Dickinson statesman, Talbot City • John Dickinson Books
Frederick Douglass (1817 - 1895) Abolitionist leader who was born a slave in Maryland was an American abolitionist, women's suffragist, editor, orator, author, statesman and reformer. Called "The Sage of Anacostia" and "The Lion of Anacostia", Douglass is one of the most prominent figures in African American and United States history. He was a firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant. He was fond of saying, "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, who later became known as Frederick Douglass, was born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland, between Hillsboro and Cordova, in a shack east of Tappers Corner and west of Tuckahoe Creek. He was separated from his mother, Harriet Bailey, when he was still an infant. She died when Douglass was about seven and Douglass lived with his maternal grandmother Betty Bailey. His mother's ancestors likely had Native American heritage. • Frederick Douglass Books

Christopher Gist frontiersman, Baltimore • Christopher Gist Books
Philip Glass composer, Baltimore Philip Morris Glass (born January 31, 1937) is an American music composer. He is considered one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century and is widely acknowledged as a composer who has brought art music to the public (along with precursors such as Richard Strauss, Kurt Weill and Leonard Bernstein).

Although his music is often, though controversially, described as minimalist, he distances himself from this label, describing himself instead as a composer of "music with repetitive structures." Although his early, mature music is minimalist, he has evolved stylistically. Currently, he describes himself as a "Classicist", pointing out that he is trained in harmony and counterpoint and studied Franz Schubert, Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with Nadia Boulanger.

Glass is a prolific composer: He has written works for his own musical group which he founded, the Philip Glass Ensemble (for which he still performs on keyboards), as well as operas, musical theatre works, eight symphonies, eight concertos, solo works, string quartets, and film scores. Three of his film scores have been nominated for Academy Awards. • Philip Glass Discography • Philip Glass Books • Philip Glass Movies & TV

Jonah Jacob Goldberg (born March 21, 1969) is an American conservative syndicated columnist and author. Goldberg is known for his contributions on politics and culture to National Review Online, where he is the editor-at-large. He is the author of Liberal Fascism, which reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list.

Goldberg also frequently appears on television, on such shows as Good Morning America, Nightline, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Real Time with Bill Maher, Larry King Live, Your World with Neil Cavuto and most recently the Glenn Beck Program and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He is also a frequent participant on Goldberg has twice-weekly column at National Review Online, which is syndicated to numerous papers across the United States, and at He also writes an occasional "Goldberg File" column at National Review that is typically longer, and more culture or interest oriented. Goldberg is also a frequent poster at National Review Online's blog The Corner.

Aside from being a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors, he has written for The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, The Public Interest, The Wilson Quarterly, The Weekly Standard, the New York Post, The Women’s Quarterly, and Slate. The Los Angeles Times added Goldberg to its editorial lineup in 2005. • Jonah Goldberg Books  

Matthew Henson (1866 - 1955) One of the first two men to reach the North Pole; born in Baltimore.Longtime explorer Henson accompanied Robert Peary on their many quests to be the first to reach the North Pole, but when they finally made it, Henson was barely mentioned in newspaper reports except as Peary’s “negro assistant” or “manservant,” and it took years for the African American explorer to finally gain recognition. Scrupulous in distinguishing fact from surmise, with an attractive design and a photo, print, or map on each double-page spread, this small, clear volume in the Sterling Biographies series focuses on the danger, drudgery, and excitement of those many Arctic expeditions across hundred of miles of snow and ice. Unlike most other Henson biographies, this one also discusses his essential role in bonding with the Inuit, learning their language, making friends; and, for once, the Inuit guides are named in person. Extensive back matter includes a bibliography, chapter notes, and a glossary that makes the words in intrusive bold type throughout the text unnecessary. Grades 5-8.• Matthew Henson Books
Billie Holiday jazz-blues singer, Baltimore (born Eleanora Fagan; April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed Lady Day by her loyal friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday was a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Above all, she was admired for her deeply personal and intimate approach to singing. Critic John Bush wrote that she "changed the art of American pop vocals forever." She co-wrote only a few songs, but several of them have become jazz standards, notably "God Bless the Child", "Don't Explain", and "Lady Sings the Blues". She also became famous for singing jazz standards written by others, including "Easy Living" and "Strange Fruit."

Raised Roman Catholic, Billie Holiday had a difficult childhood, which greatly affected her life and career. Not much is known for certain about her early life, and her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, first published in 1956, was later revealed to contain many inaccuracies. • Billie Holiday Books • Billie Holiday Movies & TV • Billie Holiday Discography

Johns Hopkins (1795 - 1873), Merchant, banker, and philanthropist, who founded the hospital and university that bear his name; born in Anne Arundel County. a wealthy entrepreneur, philanthropist, and abolitionist of 19th century Baltimore, now most noted for his philanthropic creation of the institutions that bear his name, namely the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Johns Hopkins University and its associated divisions, in particular the schools of nursing, medicine, and public health. A biography entitled Johns Hopkins: A Silhouette written by his cousin Helen Hopkins Thom was published in 1929 by the Johns Hopkins University Press, the oldest continuously running press in the United States.

Following Hopkins' death, the Baltimore Sun wrote a lengthy obituary which closed thus: "In the death of Johns Hopkins a career has been closed which affords a rare example of successful energy in individual accumulations, and of practical beneficence in devoting the gains thus acquired to the public." His contribution to the university that has become his greatest legacy was, by all accounts, the largest philanthropic bequest ever made to an American educational institution.• Johns Hopkins Books

Reverdy Johnson lawyer, statesman, Annapolis • Reverdy Johnson Books
Thomas Johnson political leader, Calvert City • Thomas Johnson Books
Francis Scott Key (1779 - 1843) He wrote the national anthem on September 14, 1814 while watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812; born in Frederick county. Grade 1-4–Brief but serviceable introductions to notable figures in American history. Kjelle recounts the story of the U.S. national anthem's composition and then details Key's life from childhood through his civic offices and death. It's a worthwhile alternative to Steven Kroll's embellished narrative in By the Dawn's Early Light (Scholastic, 2000). Smalley relates Hudson's four unsuccessful voyages in search of a northern passage to Asia, culminating in abandonment by his crew. Details of the explorer's encounters with Native Americans are sketchy. A major flaw is the lack of maps displaying his routes. Hallmarks of the series are highlighted vocabulary, glossaries, time lines, bibliographies, and indexes. Illustrations are credited and captioned, though their quality is uneven, ranging from attractive reprints of historical paintings and photos to somewhat crude diagrams. Joan Elizabeth Goodman's Beyond the Sea of Ice (Mikaya, 1999) and Ruth Manning's Henry Hudson (Heinemann Library, 2001) are more detailed and livelier accounts of Hudson's voyages, though for slightly more advanced readers. With the demand for easy-reader biographies, these titles should find use in most collections.–Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI • Francis Scott Key Books
Thurgood Marshall (1908 - 1993) First African-American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 2, 1908, the great-grandson of a slave. His original name was Thoroughgood, but he shortened it to Thurgood in second grade because he disliked spelling it. His father, William Marshall, who was a railroad porter, instilled in him an appreciation for the Constitution of the United States and the rule of law. Additionally, as a child in Baltimore, he was punished for his school misbehavior by being forced to write copies of the Constitution, which he later said piqued his interest in the document.

Marshall was married twice; to Vivian "Buster" Burey from 1929 until her death in February 1955 and to Cecilia Suyat from December 1955 until his own death in 1993. He had two sons from his second marriage; Thurgood Marshall, Jr., who is a former top aide to President Bill Clinton, and John W. Marshall, who is a former United States Marshals Service Director and since 2002 has served as Virginia Secretary of Public Safety under Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. • Thurgood Marshall Books

H. L. Mencken writer, Baltimore • H. L. Mencken Books
Charles Willson Peale painter, naturalist Queen Annes City • Charles Willson Peale Books
Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 1849) Famous author and poet; born in Massachusetts, spent writing years in Baltimore and died there. Meyers ( Joseph Conrad ) focuses on the ways the works of poet and short story writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) influenced many other great writers, including Hawthorne, Fitzgerald, Nabokov and Baudelaire. Hailed in France as the inventor of the modern detective and psychological novel and of symbolist poetry, he is remembered in his own country chiefly for his macabre tales ("The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Fall of the House of Usher") and his poem "The Raven." Meyers documents Poe's short and unhappy life, effectively describing his chaotic childhood (he was raised by a foster father who would later disown him) and his tragic adult life (he struggled to write while suffering from alcoholism, poverty and the death of his young wife Virginia in 1847 from consumption). Meyers's sympathetic and readable treatment highlights Poe's considerable stylistic achievements. Illustrations not seen by PW. • Edgar Allan Poe Books
Cal Ripken Jr. (1960 - ) One of the best shortstops in baseball history that holds the record for the most consecutive games played, at 2,632; born in Havre de Grace and a member of the Baltimore Orioles.During his baseball career, he earned the nickname The Iron Man for doggedly remaining in the lineup despite numerous minor injuries and for his reliability to "show up" to work everyday. He is perhaps best known for breaking New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played, a record many deemed unbreakable.

Ripken surpassed the 56-year-old record when he played in his 2,131st game on September 6, 1995 between the Orioles and California Angels in front of a sold-out crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.To make the feat even more memorable, Ripken hit a home run in the previous night's game that tied Gehrig's record and another home run in his 2,131st game, which fans later voted as Major League Baseball's "Most Memorable Moment" in MLB • Cal Ripken Jr. Books

George Herman “Babe” Ruth (1895 - 1948) One of the greatest players in baseball history that held the record for the most home runs in a single season; born in Baltimore In this day of overamped salaries, statistics, and physiques, it's useful to be reminded of the singular talent and impact Babe Ruth brought to baseball during his career (1914-35). He owned most of the hitting records for decades, including single-season and career home runs--and all this during the "dead ball" era. Even now, the baseball fan can only be awed by what Ruth accomplished, not to mention the adulation he engendered.

And if Robert Creamer's highly readable Babe (1974) is still the benchmark biography, Montville (Ted Williams, 2004) brings fresh observations to his subject, one being that Ruth probably suffered from attention-deficit disorder, which accounts for his inexhaustible energy for everything from baseball to food to alcohol to sex, not necessarily in that order. And in his vivid account of the years Ruth spent at St. Mary's orphanage in Baltimore, Montville gives readers the measure of what made the man. Montville has also carefully sifted the factual from the hearsay, leaving us with a volume that's reliable, readable, and deserving of a place in the sports or American culture collection. Alan Moores • Babe Ruth Books

Roger B. Taney jurist, Calvert Cty • Roger B. Taney Books
Harriet Tubman (1820 - 1913) A leading figure in the Underground Railroad, a nurse, spy, and scout for the Union army, and a woman’s rights activist; born in Dorchester County. At long last Harriet Tubman, the subject of school myth and lore, has a full-fledged biography. Critics agree that Clinton does a remarkable job researching the life of a woman who left few traces; not only was she born into slavery, but she was also illiterate, and the Underground Railroad left no written records. Despite these obstacles, Clinton delves into university archives to paint a detailed portrait of Tubman's life--from her marriage, militant politics, and role in the Underground Railroad to her activism in the northern free black community of Philadelphia. Her significant contribution lies in placing Tubman's life smartly within 19th-century Southern history. In short, this graceful biography elevates Tubman from a minor cultural icon to a significant figure in American history. • Harriet Tubman Books
Upton Beall Sinclair (1878 - 1968) Writer, social critic, author of the novel The Jungle, whose revelations led to reforms in the meat-packing industry; born in Baltimore. Sinclair was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Upton Beall Sinclair and Priscilla Harden. His father was a liquor salesman whose alcoholism shadowed his son's childhood. Sinclair had wealthy grandparents with whom he would often stay. This gave him insight on how both the rich and poor lived during the late nineteenth century. Experiencing the differences of the two worlds of wealth and poverty affected him greatly and highly influenced his novels. In 1888, the Sinclair family moved to The Bronx, where Sinclair attended the City College of New York at the age of fourteen, writing novels and magazine articles to pay for his tuition.• Upton Beall Sinclair Books
Leon Uris author, Baltimore • Leon Uris Books
Frank Zappa singer, Baltimore Frank Vincent Zappa[1] (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American composer, electric guitarist, record producer, and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, electronic, orchestral, and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. Zappa produced almost all of the more than 60 albums he released with the band Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist.

In his teens, he acquired a taste for percussion-based avant-garde composers like Edgard Varèse and 1950s rhythm and blues music. He began writing classical music in high school, while at the same time playing drums in rhythm and blues bands—he later switched to electric guitar. He was a self-taught composer and performer, and his diverse musical influences led him to create music that was often impossible to categorize. His 1966 debut album with the Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!, combined songs in conventional rock and roll format with collective improvisations and studio-generated sound collages. His later albums shared this eclectic and experimental approach, irrespective of whether the fundamental format was one of rock, jazz or classical. He wrote the lyrics to all his songs, which—often humorously—reflected his iconoclastic view of established political processes, structures and movements. He was a strident critic of mainstream education and organized religion, and a forthright and passionate advocate for freedom of speech and the abolition of censorship. • Frank Zappa Website• Frank Zappa Discography • Frank Zappa Books