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Paint and Powder Club records

Identifier: MS 1735


This collection consists of the records of the Paint and Powder Club of Baltimore, a philanthropic gentleman's theatrical club that formed in 1893.


  • 1894-2015


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Historical Note

The Paint and Powder Club, established in 1893 as a philanthropic and social club, is dedicated both to camaraderie among its members and assistance to local charities from monies raised with theater productions. Social events are held throughout the year as the members prepare the coming theatrical presentations. It was founded as a men’s club and its membership, drawn from Baltimore’s blue blood community, was white. In 1994. the board of directors approved membership for women, and four years later, a woman was elected president. She was the first person to serve for three presidential terms.

Paint and Powder’s first show, “Mustapha,” was presented in 1894 at Baltimore’s Fords Grand Opera House. Plays were also staged at the Lyric Theater (still in existence). Over the years, the repertoire has expanded to include plays written by club members and other shows already familiar to audiences. Two of the earliest plays were “Joan of Arc” and “The Paint and Powder Vaudevilles.” By 1936, Paint and Powder had produced 17 plays, mostly vaudeville and musical comedies in nature. The 1941 show was the Broadway Musical comedy hit “Oh! Kay,” and in 1947, it was Gershwin’s “Girl Crazy.” The 1977 show was “Away We Go,” and “Show Business” was the 59th production .

A variety of charities have benefitted from Paint and Powder productions over the years. The very first show raised $5,800 (approximately $100,000 in 2015 dollars) for the Children’s Country Home. The 1936 charity was the Hospital for Women in Maryland. The 1941 show benefited the British Work Relief Society. and the 1951 show supported Franklin Square Hospital. The 1952 recipient was the Fund for Mentally Retarded and Handicapped Children. Church Home and Hospital was the 1961 recipient. Other charities that have benefitted through the years are the Hilgenberg Children's Center for Speech Disorders, William S. Baer School, the Children’s Scholarship Fund, the Maryland Conservatory of Music, Students Sharing Coalition, the Y of Central Maryland in Harford County, Linwood Center, the Women’s Industrial Exchange (which remains a Baltimore icon), and the Mental Health Association of Maryland Baltimore, which included a message of appreciation from Rosalynn Carter in the printed program for its good work.

In addition to its plays, Paint and Powder has a men’s Singing Chorus, “a women’s Singing Chorus, a mixed chorus called “The Counterpoints,” a music group called “The Keystone Kops,” and another called the “Uptown Society Band.” Its Paint and Powder Club theme song ,“Have Another,“ refers to its annual stage presentations.

The Paint and Powder Club is thought to be the oldest of its type in the United States. Similar clubs exist in Boston, Philadelphia, and other cities, but Baltimore’s Paint and Powder Club considers itself the oldest. Paint and Powder is incorporated in Timonium, Maryland.


11.13 Linear Feet (7 full Hollinger boxes; 1 half Hollinger box; 8 flat boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Original donation of records was gifted by the Club in 1952. Subsequent accruals were gifted by Mrs. T. Courtney Jenkins, Arunah S.A. Brady, G. Van Velson, Arnold Wilkes, and Miss Martha Bokel.

Guide to the Paint and Powder Club records
Under Revision
Michael Mark
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Revision Statements

  • 2019-11-21: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States