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African American Resources

Government Records Special Collections Published/Internet Resources Maryland Indexes
Census Index 1776 and 1778 Ethnic Resources Baltimore City Directory 1871 Baltimore City Directory 1881

Searching for Ancestors Who Were Slaves: An Index to the Freedom Records of Prince George's County Maryland, 1808-1869 by Louise J. Hienton

Government Records

Among the holdings of the Maryland State Archives are colonial and State executive, legislative, and judicial records; county probate, land, and court records; and State publications and reports. In addition, the Archives maintains vital records for the 23 counties and Baltimore City. For a general description of these records, see the Guide to Government Records. See also the following publications available at the Archives:

Special Collections

The department of Special Collections at the Maryland State Archives supervises the care, preservation, accessioning and description of non-government records. These records are usually acquired by the Archives through gifts or deposits by private donors and generally consist of personal letters, diaries, photographs, maps, and manuscript documents.

  • African American Newspapers

Newspapers provide a contemporary record of daily life in Maryland. Unfortunately, the deterioration of these valuable historical documents has become a serious conservation issue. Since 1979, the Maryland State Archives has cooperated with concerned individuals, historical agencies, libraries, and newspaper publishers in the Maryland Newspaper Project, the only comprehensive program of its kind for Maryland. Although targeted for preservation, few issues of African American newspapers were located for microfilming. Single issues of the Afro-American Ledger (Baltimore) and the Negro Appeal (Baltimore; Annapolis) exist in the Archives' collections as well as scattered issues of the Lancet (Baltimore) on microfilm for the years 1902-1903.

Additional African American newspapers -- Afro-American (Baltimore: 1892-1900?), Afro-American (Capital edition) (Baltimore: 1932?-1937?), Afro-American (National edition) (Baltimore: 1915- ), American Citizen (Baltimore: 1879-?), Commonwealth (Baltimore: 1915-1915?), Ledger (Baltimore: 1898-1899), Lyceum Observer (Baltimore: 1863-?), and Race Standard (Baltimore: 1894?-1898?) -- are available at other Maryland institutions. See: Nancy M. Bramucci and Elizabeth Ellis, eds., Guide to Maryland Newspapers (Annapolis: Maryland State Archives, draft 1995) for title history and source information.

  • Bank Records     

The records of the Savings Bank of Baltimore are an extraordinarily rich collection relating to the lives of hardworking, independent, wage-earning citizens of the city dating back to the first depositors of 1818. Founded as a mutual savings bank in 1818 to promote thrift and financial security among the working class, the Savings Bank of Baltimore has long held a prominent place in Baltimore's history. Of particular interest are the returning Civil War veterans, many of whom were immigrants and African American soldiers who deposited their pay with the Bank. The collection also includes the records of the Metropolitan Savings Bank, founded in 1867. In 1957, the bank merged with the Savings Bank of Baltimore.

Since the establishment of the Hall of Records in 1935, the Maryland State Archives has been aware of the importance of church and synagogue records as a significant primary source for historians and genealogists. Since systematic recording of vital records was not established until 1875 for Baltimore City and 1898 for Maryland counties, religious records are often the only source for birth and death information.

The Archives' collections include the records of several African American congregations which have been preserved through the Archives' Preservation Microfilming Program. Churches interested in participating in this program should contact the Maryland State Archives for further information.

  • Documents for the Classroom

In the Aftermath of 'Glory': Black Soldiers & Sailors from Annapolis Maryland, 1863-1918, MSA SC 2221-8 Examines what happens to Black soldiers who survive the Civil War by tracing their careers through public and private records. Includes maps, contemporary accounts, census records, probate records, court depositions, and Federal pension files. It relates the soldiers to the efforts to expand and then restrict the suffrage ending with the voting rights cases of 1915 which involved a Civil War soldier from Annapolis. Ask for MSA Publication # 1727 - $5.00

Celebrating Rights and Responsibilities: Baltimore & the Fifteenth Amendment, May 19, 1870, MSA SC 2221-18 Includes documents and images relating to the ratification and celebration of the 15th Amendment in Baltimore, including a speech given by Frederick Douglass. Ask for MSA Publication # 5381 - large format, $7.00

From Segregation to Integration: The Donald Murray Case, 1935-1937, MSA SC 2221-1 Concentrates on efforts to integrate higher education in Maryland from 1934 to 1937 with emphasis on Thurgood Marshall, Lillie May Jackson, William I. Gosnell, Charles Houston, and Donald Murray's successful attempt to integrate the University of Maryland Law School. Ask for MSA Publication # 1844 - $5.00

Is Baltimore Burning?, MSA SC 2221-12 Includes newspaper and other accounts of the Cambridge riot of 1967, the Baltimore riot of 1968, selections from Governor Agnew's papers relating to both events including the Cambridge speech and subsequent trial of H. Rap Brown, and the Goldseker Foundation report Baltimore 2000. Ask for MSA Publication # 2395 - $5.00

Additional document packets, transparencies and poster-sized materials are also available. For copies and further information about Documents for the Classroom write the Maryland State Archives, 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, MD 21401, or call MD toll free (800) 235-4045 or (410) 260-6400.

  • Federal Manuscript Census - Slave Schedules

      The Maryland State Archives has microfilm of the Federal Manuscript Censuses beginning in 1790. The Federal Censuses of 1790, 1800, and 1810 indicate the number of slaves within a household. Beginning in 1820, the Federal Census lists the number of male and female slaves and free persons of color in broad age groups. The 1850 and 1860 Federal Censuses also contain separate Slave Schedules. While these schedules do not list individual slave names, they do indicate the slave owner's name and for each slave shows ages, color, sex, whether deaf, blind, insane, or idiotic, and whether a fugitive from the state. Census indices prior to 1860 are in book form. The 1850 Census index does not list free African-Americans.

Published/Internet Resources Relating to African American History

The Maryland State Archives offers a range of materials for sale. Books include titles on Maryland and family history, the American Revolution and Civil War, general history, and reference works. Original source material is available through the Archives of Maryland series, Documents for the Classroom, and the Microform Guides to county records at the Maryland State Archives. Pre-paid mail orders are also welcomed. Please identify the quantity, title and inventory number desired.

Maryland Indexes

      (Freedom Records, AA, Index), 1805-1864. Index 34. MSA S1407

      (Freedom Records, AA, Owner Index), 1785-1867. Index 35. MSA S1408

      (African American Records, DO, Index), 1806-1868. Index 36. MSA S1409

      (African American Records, DO, Owner Index), 1806-1868. Index 37. MSA S1410

      (Freedom Records, PG, Index), 1806-1869. Index 38. MSA S1411

      (Freedom Records, QA, Index), 1807-1864. Index 39. MSA S1412

      (Freedom Records, QA, Owner Index), 1807-1864. Index 40. MSA S1413

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