Fugitive Public Records
Recently a great deal of interest has been aroused in the definition of fugitive public records and their recovery by the forced return of the North Carolina copy of the Bill of Rights. Maryland's copy is still at large. For more information see:
- "The Bill of Rights is Returned to North Carolina!," The Charter, News of the Archives and Records Section, Summer 2005
- Patrik Jonsson, "A Bill of Rights, looted long ago, is stolen back," Christian Science Monitor, April 22, 2003.
- Greg Licamele, "Reuniting History: GW Helps Identify a Copy of the Bill of Rights," By George! Online, April 4, 2003.
- Council of State Historical Records Coordinators, "Statement Regarding the Sale of Historical Public Records on eBay," February 2004 [see cochrc.org]
Public Records in Maryland, except for those still needed by public agencies for their daily operations, are the curatorial and legal responsibility of the Maryland State Archives. This legal responsibility encompasses all records that were ever compiled by, or were the responsibility of, public officials, elected, or appointed, from the founding of Maryland in 1632 by Charter from King Charles, to the present.
Public records, from time to time, make their way into the manuscript market for a variety of reasons, not all of which are sinister. Conscientious members of the public often preserve them from places where they have been illegally discarded or inadvertently misplaced. For a definition of what constitutes a public record in Maryland and the possibility of the State providing a finder's or recovery fee to those who in good faith or by chance, preserved the record from certain destruction, see: ATTORNEY GENERAL (Annual Report, and Official Opinions), vol. 64, p. 273, 1979/12/31, MSA C1944.
Examples of fugitive public records that have been returned in good faith to the State Archives include:
- CENTREVILLE TOWN COMMISSIONERS (Proceedings), 1797-1914 MSA ME2
- ALLEGANY COUNTY COURT (Court Papers), 1791-1848 MSA C2088
- ALLEGANY COUNTY COURT (Equity Papers), 1815-1851 MSA C2085
- ALLEGANY COUNTY COURT (Land Record Papers), 1795-1843 MSA C2090
- ALLEGANY COUNTY COURT (Magistrates Commissions), 1826-1844 MSA C2092
- BALTIMORE COUNTY COURT (Chattel Records), 1750-1814 MSA C298
- BALTIMORE COUNTY COURT (Miscellaneous Court Papers), 1729-1851 MSA C1
- BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Miscellaneous Court Papers), 1852-1904 MSA C67
- TALBOT COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (Pension Record), 1931-1937 MSA C2923
- TALBOT COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (Road Papers), 1884-1940 MSA CE127
- TALBOT COUNTY BOARD OF HEALTH (Burial Permits), 1900-1913 MSA CE129