What led a group of nine ordinary Americans—including an artist, a nurse, and three clergymen—to seize several hundred draft records from a Selective Service office in Maryland and burn them in a nearby parking lot?

Well, it was 1968 and many Americans had had enough of the Vietnam war. The nine Catholics, who came to be known as the Catonsville 9 took action. It was an action that they had been considering for some time.

Free-the-Catonsville-9According to the Maryland Historical Society, “[Their] act of civil disobedience intensified protest against the draft, prompted debate in households in Maryland and across the nation, and stirred angry reaction on the part of pro-war Americans. It also propelled the nine into the national spotlight. The Catonsville action reflected not only the nature of the Vietnam antiwar movement but also the larger context of social forces that were reshaping American culture in the 1960s.”


The Maryland Historical Society has tapped the legacy of the iconic Catonsville Nine protest as the subject for an exhibition opening May 12th. Here’s your invitation:

Join us on May 12th for the opening of the exhibit Activism & Art: the Catonsville Nine, 50 Years Later, an exhibit that will examine one of the most iconic and written-about acts of political protest in 20th century American history. This exhibit will explore their motivations, consider the consequences of their action, and contextualize this protest in our present turbulent political climate.

The opening events are free but reservations are required.

Investigation of Flame Film Screening and Community Discussion
May 12, 2018 – 5:00pm

Activism & Art: the Catonsville Nine, 50 Years Later, Exhibit Opening & Reception
May 12, 2018 – 7:00pm

You can learn more about the Catonsville 9 via the Enoch Pratt Library’s digital collection: c9.digitalmaryland.org


About the MdHS:

Founded in 1844, the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) is the state’s oldest continuously operating cultural institution. In keeping with the founders’ commitment to preserve the remnants of Maryland’s past, MdHS remains the premier institution for state history. With over 350,000 objects and seven million books and documents, this institution now serves upward of 100,000 people through its museum, library, press, and educational programs.

The Maryland Historical Society
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore, MD 21201 410-685-3750