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Canton Improvement Association papers

Identifier: MS 2722


This collection contains newsletters, minutes, and correspondence highlighting the Canton Improvement Association's activities, as well as grant applications, proposals, and other documents pertaining to the organization's role in community development, circa 1971-1985.


  • 1971-1985


Conditions Governing Access

The 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 Canton region of Baltimore city is along the harbor in the southeastern part of the city. The land between Fells Point and Lazaretto Point, originally the plantation of merchant seaman John O'Donnell, began to see industrial use in the mid 1800s, facilitated by the presence of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. At the same time, Canton developed as a residential area, with row homes for workers settled by European immigrants in the early 1900's, especially Welsh, Irish, German and later Pole. Canton underwent increasing industrial and commercial development, becoming a deepwater marine terminal handling shipping of various cargo. Over the years, industry in the area included mills, distilleries, ship building, smelting, refineries, and manufacturing. Tradition says the area was named for Canton, China, the origin of cargo coming through the docks located there. The Canton Improvement Association was incorporated in 1970, initially formed in opposition to the extension of I-70 through the community. In the 1970s and 1980s the group promoted quality of life for Canton residents, providing leadership for activism on many issues: curtailing vandalism and other crime, maintaining and improving the neighborhood, seeking zoning to regulate the impact on residents of industrial activity, developing properties for park and recreational use, and improving schools. The association also represented the Canton neighborhood at local and city-wide events like the Fells Point Fun Festival and the City Fair. The organization was successful in having Canton placed on the National Register as a historic district, enlisting volunteers to survey and classify area properties, and prevented the closing of the Canton branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.


2.29 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into the first five boxes according to subject. The sixth box contains a ledger and miscellaneous materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mr. Thomas Canoles, President of the Canton Improvement Association, May 23, 1997.

Related Materials

PP118, Canton Improvement Association photograph collection, 1973-1985.

Scope and Contents

Issues discussed in this collection include: zoning within the Canton area, childcare programs, youth programs, The Lemko Senior Citizens Housing Project, The Baltimore City Fair, and The South East Community Organization (SECO). The collection contains positive photocopies of correspondence, newsletters, and newsclippings. The whereabouts of the originals are unknown.

Guide to the Canton Improvement Association papers
Under Revision
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2020-03-17: 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