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In 1916, the General Assembly created the Maryland State Board of
Censors to scrutinize "all films, reels or views" to be exhibited
in the state (Chapter 209, Acts of 1916). The board consisted of
a chairman, vice-chairman, and secretary. Each was appointed to a
three-year term by the governor with the advice and consent of
The board approved only those films that they deemed "moral and
proper." Approved films received the board's official seal, which
was required to be displayed on every film shown in Maryland.
Films that the board judged sacrilegious, obscene, indecent,
immoral, or tending to debase or corrupt morals did not receive
the required seal. Exhibiting disapproved films was illegal. The
board enforced its own rules. Members of the board and its
employees were authorized to enter any theater to prevent the
exhibition of films that did not display the board's seal.
Although it had no power of arrest, the board organized police
raids on offending theaters. Persons who submitted films to the
board for examination, if dissatisfied with the result of the
first judgment, could, upon appeal, submit the same film to the
board for reexamination, and then to the City Court of Baltimore.
Some censorship cases reached the Maryland Court of Appeals.
In 1970, administration of the Maryland State Board of Censors
was assigned to the newly created Department of Licensing and
Regulation (Chapter 402, Acts of 1970).
Department of Licensing and Regulation. MSA SH157.