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Series Information
(Market Records)

Series Description

The Baltimore City markets are under the control of the city comptroller, but for convenience they are described as a separate record group. The records in this record group are financial in nature and the few extant administrative records are in the comptroller's files (RG 43).

The market system began in 1747 when the Maryland legislature authorized the Baltimore Town Commissioners to hold and regulate annual fairs.  In 1765 the legislature also authorized the commissioners to appoint a clerk for each market for general administration especially in regards to revenues from rents and fines and for other monies generated from public use. The charter of 1796 gave the mayor and city council the power "to erect and regulate markets" and the system of market clerks remained. It appears that the revenue records of the markets were maintained by the city register from 1797 until the creation of the city comptroller's office in 1857. The comptroller continues to exercise the prime responsibility for the administration of the markets although the immediate administration was under a market master from 1898, a superintendent of markets from 1956, and a bureau of markets and comfort stations from 1968.

The city markets include the Belair market, founded in 1835 and still in existence; Canton market, founded in 1858; the old "Marsh Market," founded in 1773, variously named, and taken over by the state in 1975 as the Maryland Wholesale Produce Market (now in Jessup, Maryland, see MS.l); the Cross Street Market, founded in 1845 and still in existence; the Fell's Point Market, founded in 1785 and still in existence as the Broadway Market; the Hanover Market, founded in 1784; the Hollins Market, founded in 1835 and still in existence; the Lafayette Market, founded in 1869 and still in existence; the Lexington Market, founded in 1818 and established by the state in 1945 as a separate market authority; the Northeast Market, founded in 1885 and still in existence; and the Richmond Market, in operation between 1833 and 1956. A brief history of each market and market house is in the 1911 annual report of the comptroller, which is in box 1 of series 1 in this record group.

Researchers needing more information about the markets should consult Jacob H. Hollander, The Financial History of Baltimore (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1899); Leonard Owens Rea, The Financial History of Baltimore 1900-1926, Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, series 48, no. 3 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1929); Municipal Handbook 1977 (Baltimore: Department of Legislative Reference, 1977); annual reports of the city comptroller; the various city charters, especially 1796 and 1898, and Baltimore City codes; ord. 16 (1797); ord. 77 (1798); ord. 38 (1826); and ord. 30 (1828). Copies of these ordinances and others pertaining to specific markets are in box 1 of series 1 of this record group.

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DateSeries NameDescriptionMSA Citation
  Details1818-1955Market Rents and Licenses

Rents and license records constitute one of two types of financial records generated by the markets. The second type, reports and returns, are in series 2. Rent and license records were kept both by the individual market clerks and by the comptroller's office. Both sets of records are in this series. The market clerks' records were arranged and described by the HRS project, and their numbering arrangement has been retained (boxes 1-22). The comptroller's office accounts receivable volumes are in boxes 22-41.

The city owned the market houses and annually rented stall space. In addition, each person who sold goods either in an assigned stall or in the markets generally had to obtain a license. It was also necessary to obtain a license to operate carts, bagatelle and ten pin games, theatres, and to clean sinks and privies. The records in this series record the rents and issuance of licenses. Up through the early 1850s the bulk of the market clerk records are receipts for stall rents. After this period most market clerk records are licenses which were returned when the license was transferred to someone else. These licenses describe the type of license, the original licensee, and the name of the person to whom it was transferred.

The comptroller's office kept much of the same information as the market clerks, only it is more complete. These accounts receivable ledgers record the names of renters and licensees and any changes in status. The individual volumes include records of the following markets: Belaid, 1866-1919; Canton, 1885-1903; Cross St., 1860-99; Hollins, 1860-1919; Fells Point, 1868, 1871-97; Hanover, 1866-1918; Lafayette, 1871-1919; Lexington, 1865, 1876, 1899-1919; Northeast, 1885-1919; and Richmond, 1869-1918.

A complete container listing is available at the Baltimore City Archives.

  Details1842-1844, 1854-1859, 1917Market Reports and Returns

Market clerks were required to make monthly and quarterly reports on the income from each market. These reports and returns were compiled for the mayor and city council and most of them were collected into a separate record group, RG 41, by the HRS staff. A few were processed and indexed with these market records by the HRS project and have been retained as part of this record group.

A complete container listing is available at the Baltimore City Archives.

  Details1904-1908Centre Market Commission MinutesThe commission was created by ord. 157 (1904) to build and equip market houses in the centre market space which burned in the 1904 fire. The three major buildings built by the commission were the wholesale fish market, the wholesale produce market, and a retail market building housing the evening classes of the Maryland Institute. The minutes detail discussions of the design of the buildings by architects Simonson and Pietsch and the actual construction through to plans for the buildings' dedication.BRG42-3
  Details1916-1948Plats of Markets

Plats of various city markets showing market's location in relation to city streets and the location of the numbered market stalls. Markets included are: Belair, Center, Cross Street, Fells Point, Hanover, Hollins, Lafayette, Lexington, North East, and Richmond.

Available on microfilm only (BCA 1429).

  Details1949Lexington Market Authority, Trust Indenture

This series contains a copy of the trust indenture, dated November 1, 1949, entered into by the Lexington Market Authority and the Union Trust Company of Maryland for the issuance of revenue bonds by the Authority. The purpose of the bond issue was three-fold: 1) to eliminate unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the existing market, 2) to alleviate traffic congestion around the market, and 3) to facilitate more economical and productive use of the market area.

These records are available on microfilm only (BCA 1589).

  Details1934-1951Ledger Accounts

These ledger accounts are primarily records of rental of individual stalls in the various markets, for the year 1951. The ledger cards for each stall record the name of the market; space number; type of stall; annual charges; effective date; permit holders' name, address, and telephone number; fee assessments and remittances; and name, address, and type of stall for sub-leasees. Also included are brief, undated listings of vacancies for some markets. Miscellaneous records from several judgement accounts appear at the end of the second reel (BCA 1591), including billings for stall rental fees in arrears, correspondence, and ledger cards for outstanding individual accounts.

These records are available on microfilm only (BCA 1590-1591).

  Details1896-1907Bureau of MarketsThis series is comprised of ledgers showing status of stalls in the various markets. Within ledgers, stalls are arranged according to number. Information provided includes identification number and kind of stall, name of license holder, transfers, rent and license fees and remarks.BRG42-7
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