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Paint and Powder Club photograph collection

Identifier: PP 0195


This collection contains 384 photographs related to the Paint and Powder Club, an amateur theatrical club that performed original musical shows for charity. Organized in 1893 as a men's club, women were admitted in 1938.


  • 1894-1970


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.

Biographical / Historical

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. (Michael Mark, MdHS volunteer, June 2015)


0.63 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The items in this collection are arranged according to PP catalog numbers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mr. Arnold Wilkes, 1977.

Related Materials

MS 940: Album, circa 1910-1913

MS 1735: Archives, 1894-2015

MS 1735.1: Collection, 1894-1977

MS 640: Minute book, 1894-1896

PAM 5312: Roster and by-laws : 1990-1991

Scope and Contents

The Paint and Powder Club photographs consists of two boxes of containing 184 black and white photographs (some hand-tinted color), and 200 negatives. Subjects include late 19th century and early 20th century cabinet photograph portraits (some hand-tinted in color) of original amateur musical and dramatic theater productions performed to raise money for Baltimore charitable and philanthropic causes. Also included are 20th century 8x10 photograph glossies of musical and dance productions and club special events.

This collection spans three eras: 1. Early cabinet photos of late 19th century and early 20th century photos of male actors posed in women’s, exotic, or gentlemen’s costumes for shows spanning 1894 to about 1907. 2. 8x10 glossies from the club’s 47th anniversary (about 1941) showcasing portraits, costumes, a costume sketch, and group shots of the first era, plus a few of shows possibly from the 1920s and 1930s. 3. 8x10 glossy candid photographs of club shows and special events spanning 1953 through the 1970s. Overall, this photograph collection shows a campy, dramatic and humorous pictorial of a vibrant Baltimore men’s club dedicated to original musicals and dramas that entertained and raised money for local charities spanning 1894 through the 1970s.

Also included are original cabinet photographs from the first shows of 1894 and 1895 with some as yet unverified shows likely dating to 1907; two photos from a 1922 production of Runaway Girl; 8x10” glossy copies for the club’s 47th anniversary of the first and early show photographs; and other 8x10” glossy photographs (plus a folder of duplicates) of later shows and gatherings, sporadically from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Many of the first shows, years and actors were identified and, thus, verified from another collection (MS1735) containing early playbills of the Paint and Powder Club.

Names of actors and shows include:


Todd Slone in Runaway Girl, 1922, photograph by Bachrach

PP195 3-37:

photographs by Perkins or Russell:

Harry S.M. Lehr, A. Baldwin Slone [Sloane], Ed Hough, J. Randolph “Ralph” Mordecai, Jr., Harry Price inMustapha, 1894

Harry S.M. Lehr, Roland C. West, John Morris, Harry Price, J. Randolph “Ralph” Mordecai, Jr., W.A. Merritt, Reese Cassard in Joan of Arc, 1895

David W. Jenkins in both Midas, 1895, and in Bluff King Hal, 1896;

also a photo of a costumed man labeled as: “Anne Boleyn” “96”;

and Thomas Robb, Ed Nelson, and Willie Goldsborough [1907?]


Frank J. Taylor in Mustapha; Geo. W. Knapp in The Brigand Trust;

and Robert Hayden, John A. Tompkins, A. Roberts McLean, and Geo. G. Brooks


Bobby (Mrs. William [?]) Dugdale, 1954; Lady Be Good, 1953;

party at Church Home/Kick-off Party; Administration Party/Bernie Lee’s Pub, Towson; at Chesapeake Cadillac/addressing and mailing session


Christmas party and fall outing/Gibson 1st Club and Valley Country Club, 1960+


[At the Alcazar?, 1977?]; “Circus Maximes,” and folder of duplicate photos

Guide to the Paint and Powder Club photograph collection
Under Revision
Damon Talbot
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2020-02-12: 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