This department has undergone many changes since its creation in 1857, but its basic function to supervise the financial matters of the city has remained unchanged. A comptroller was appointed "to examine, audit, adjust and settle all accounts whatsoever, in which the corporation is concerned, either as debtor or creditor...." The majority of the documents in this record group pertain to the audit function and include cash books, journals, ledgers, and monthly statements. For audit records pre-dating the comptroller's creation see the city register records (RG 32) and city auditor records (RG 6). From 1926 until 1964 the audit function was removed from the comptroller to an independent city auditor, but in 1964 a department of audits was created and placed again under the comptroller.
A second responsibility of the nineteenth century comptroller was to oversee the expenditures of funds appropriated by the mayor and city council. Several of the early appropriation ledgers are in this record group, but currently appropriations ledgers are destroyed after a fifteen year retention period.
From its inception the comptroller's department has been responsible for property owned by the city. In the early years this meant keeping a record of the land titles and seeing that the property was maintained in good condition and regularly insured. The early land records are the indexes to deeds to city property. Records from the twentieth century include one land record ledger and several plat books (for other plats see RG 12, series 1). Current files on property acquired for the city by the real estate division of the comptroller's department are destroyed when the transaction is completed and the information is found in the law department and the land record office of the city court system.
When created in 1857 the comptroller also was responsible for issuing licenses such as those for markets, wagons, carts, and theaters; market licenses are in RG 42.
The administrative files of the comptroller from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have not survived (except for a small amount, 1905-24, in series 1). Currently some of the comptroller's administrative files are mixed in with the board of estimates' files (RG 36) since the comptroller is a permanent member of this board and its clerk is the deputy comptroller.
For more information see Jacob H. Hollander, The Financial History of Baltimore (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1899); Baltimore City Charter of 1946, sects. 40-44, and 1964, art. 5, sects. 1-9; Baltimore City Code, 1976 ed., art. 5; ord. 555 (1926); and ords. 843 and 846 (1926).