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Shirley Temple

Banned in Baltimore: film censorship in the Free State

Banned in Baltimore: film censorship in the Free State

While the Internet provides easy access to the darkest corners of the imagination, the concern about decency in media is not new. Years ago Maryland's civic leaders believed they could control their community by monitoring the movies. The film industry was going through a transition in 1916 when Maryland established a board of censors. The nickelodeon boom was ending, and the studio era was on the rise. Movies were extremely popular, and the stories they showed were becoming more sophisticated. Wary of this new mass media, authorities charged film police with previewing all pictures to decide whether they were "moral and proper."

One of the first films to be banned was a...

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