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Series Information
(Law Department)

Series Description

From its incorporation in 1796 Baltimore's municipal government has required legal assistance. During its early years the government contracted with private lawyers. In 1838 it was adopted that "there shall annually be appointed from the members of Baltimore bar, a counselor of the City of Baltimore, to act as its attorney, with whom the Mayor and City Council and the officers of the corporation may advise and consult, as occasion may require." A quarter of a century later, in 1864, the additional position of solicitor became a regular salaried position of the municipal government, appointed by the Mayor, and functioning as attorney for all municipal agencies and as a member of the Board of Estimates.

For additional information consult Ord. 6 (1838); Ord. 71 (1864); and Simon E. Sobeloff, "The City Solicitor's Office, The government of a Great American City, comp. Frederick Philip Stieff (Baltimore: H. G. Roebuck and Son, 1935), pp. 78-83.

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Found 16 total items for this series.
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DateSeries NameLegacy Accession NoDescriptionMSA Citation
  Details1903-1968Opinions of the City Solicitor Official opinions representing professional decisions or advice rendered. Indexed 1903-1963.

An Index to the Opinions of the City Solicitor of the City of Baltimore, 1903-1931, 3 vols., compiled by Charles Pielert and Horace Flack.

Index to the Opinions of the City Solicitor of Baltimore, 1931-1963, compiled by Carl N. Everstine.

  Details1903-2010Case Files Notes, memos, opinions, and miscellaneous materials regarding court cases involving the municipal government. Files also include plats, correspondence, and reports. Files are arranged by case number. Records have been partially inventoried and the Baltimore City Archives does not have a comprehensive list of all cases. Case numbers may be determined several ways:
  • Case File Dockets [BRG13-11] cover 1898-1903 and 1934-1978 and provide numbers for some case files. The dockets generally contain only law suits filed by and against the city, and some files are not listed in them
  • Cases from 1919-1934 are indexed by subject. See BRG13-15.
  • Some case numbers also appear in the Opinions of the City Solicitor [BRG13-1], although not every case required the writing of a formal opinion.

Boxes labeled as supplemental case material contain records, mainly title abstracts and plats, that are either oversized or were removed from the main case file. These supplemental files have the same case number as their main file. See note in box BRG13-2-131.

Permission to examine these files must be secured from the City Solicitor's office for any case younger than 30 years or which is still an active court case.

  Details1819-1864HRS Indexed Records 

Assorted collections of opinions, correspondence, and legal documents by the City Counselor.

See separate item index at the Baltimore City Archives.

  Details1873-1964Street Improvement Property Records 

Material relates to street openings, closings, condemnations, extensions, and widenings. Other types of municipal property such as schools, fire houses, and park lots also are included. Responsibility for verification and abstraction of property titles acquired by the municipality resided originally with an examiner of titles; the 1898 city charter transferred this duty to the Law Department.

This series consists of four sub-groups identified by date and area covered. Sub-group (a) dates from 1873 to 1903 and concerns properties within the 1888 Baltimore City boundary lines. For each property covered there is usually a copy of the municipal ordinance authorizing acquisition and a title abstract. Plats are included in many instances.

Sub-group (b) dates from 1904 to 1907 and covers the area destroyed by the February 1904 fire. Included are title abstracts and copies of related correspondence to and from the Law Department. Plats appear regularly.

Sub-group (c) dates from 1921 to 1926. All parts of the city are covered, but emphasis is upon the area added in 1918. Included are notes, title abstracts, settlement sheets, related correspondence and plats. This material is arranged in a numerical case file sequence and is not indexed.

Sub-group (d) dates from 1926 to 1944 and mostly concerns the area annexed to the municipality in 1918. Title abstracts, settlement sheets, related correspondence and plats are usually available for each property.

See separate listing of streets covered in sub-groups a, b, c, and d available at the Baltimore City Archives.

  Details1900-1971Administrative Subject Files 

Correspondence, reports, and legal documents relating primarily to real estate matters and legal representation of the municipality. Many items relate directly to specific case files (Series 2). Internal management of the department and the City Solicitor's service with various municipal organizations are reflected as well.

See file folder listing available at the Baltimore City Archives.

  Details1930-1949Administrative Chronological Files Mostly incoming and copies of outgoing correspondence pertaining to all aspects of Law Department activity, especially real estate matters. Many items relate directly to specific case files (Series 2).BRG13-6
  Details1900-1980Property Acquisition Files 

Material relating to municipal purchase or condemnation of property for urban renewal, street improvement and school construction projects. The files for each project mostly consist of deeds, agreements, title abstracts and reports, and other legal documents associated with transfer of property ownership. Occasionally plats and correpsondence to and from other city agencies, title companies, and private individuals appear as well. There are also references to Law Department case file numbers [BRG13-2] for properties which the municipality had to enter litigation to obtain. All of this material is contained in groupings of folders, one for each property located in a project area.

Boxes 164 through 189 are arranged by street address. But a listing of the projects involved is included.

See separate container listing available at the Baltimore City Archives.

  Details1940-1974Real Estate Division Subject Files contain correspondence, legal documents, and reports generated by division activities, including acquisition and disposition of property, granting of easements and rights of way, and disputes concerning municipal property fees. Items are grouped together alphabetically.

Chronological Files contain incoming and copies of outgoing correspondence relating to title report and option reviews, property acquisition and disposition settlements, and lease agreements. Included are reading files of Assistant City Solicitors Eskin T. Boden (1968-73), Harold J. Kaufman (1967-69), Raymond S. Lippens (1968-72), Lloyd McAllister (1944-50, 1964), Harry K. Needle (1972-73), Wilbur J. Preston (1940-43), and H. M. Sandrock (1966-74). Also includes correspondence directed to the Board of Estimates (1971-74) and copies of legal documents (1966-74).

  Details1939-1971Friendship Airport Files 

Assorted collections of items relating to Law Department involvement in the planning, construction, and operation of the airport. Most of the subjects covered concern legal matters, especially cases before the U.S. Civil Aviation Board.

See Series 7 for airport property condemnation files and RG.14, Series 1 for related material. See file folder listing available at the Baltimore City Archives.

  Details1911Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Track Route Ground Rent Files Grouping of title examination documents relating to property affected by proposed relocation of railroad tracks and construction of roadway bridges authorized by Ord. 387 (1909). The area covered is adjacent to Camden Station and the track routes leading to the station, roughly bounded by Camden Street to the north, Eutaw Street to the west, Henrietta Street to the south, and Sharp Street to the east. The material provides no street address numbers for property examined; items are divided into geographic groupings of various sizes which are identified by a file number.BRG13-10
  Details1898-1903, 1934-1978Case File Dockets Volumes include case file number for cases in BRG13-2, as well as the name of plaintiff and defendant, court of hearing, date, amount claimed, nature of action, and disposition. There is a name index in the front of each volume. Not every case file opened by the Law Department was listed in the dockets, which generally contain only law suits filed by and against the city. There is a seperate index that covers 1919-1934. See BRG13-2 for more information. BRG13-11
  Details1910-1924Voucher Register and Journal Listing of Law Department charges for salaries, travel, title searches, court costs, and related expenditures.BRG13-12
 Details Asbestos Case Cooper Beckman and TurkBRG13-13
  Details1911-1925Title Abstracts Records of title searches conducted in relation to acquisition of property by the City. Many reference casefiles in BRG13-2. Abstracts were recorded in bound abstract volumes, which are not presently in the holdings of the Baltimore City Archives.BRG13-14
  Details1919-1934Case File IndexBRG 13 S 2This series contains the index to the case files located at BRG13-2 for the years 1919-1934.BRG13-15
  Details2002-2004Land Use Practice Group The Land Use Practice Group of the Law Department. Note: The Law Department, as of 2013, has updated their structure to include Practice Groups.BRG13-16
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