From 1966 to 1983, the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore published the literary magazine Chicory. The publication, financed by the federal Office of Economic Opportunity, contained poetry, prose, and artwork composed by members of Baltimore’s low-income, African American communities. The library published up to 10 issues a year, until Chicory’s last issue in 1983. The magazine had five editors during that span.
In 2014, Mary Rizzo, an assistant professor of professional practice in the graduate program in American studies at Rutgers University-Newark, was in Baltimore conducting research and found references to Chicory. She inquired about the magazine at the main branch of the library. After an exhaustive search, mimeographed copies of the magazine were found in cartons in the library’s archives. Dr. Rizzo has now partnered with the library to digitize the content of Chicory and make it available on the Digital Maryland website.
“Historians and scholars have so few sources giving us insight into what regular people were thinking, and even fewer of people of color,” says Dr. Rizzo. “Chicory offers us a rare historical look inside these communities. And many of the topics it addresses are still relevant today. “Since it was a federally funded public project run by a public library, I felt Chicory needed to be returned to the public.”
Dr. Rizzo hopes to develop lesson plans to use Chicory in local schools and envisions one day when Baltimore residents will come forth with new issues of the magazine.