In the Beginning...
Maryland Genealogy Resources
Your Family Tree
Print a copy of the Pedigree Chart, and fill in as much information as you can.
Interview all of your family members to determine who has information on the names, and the birth/marriage/death dates and locations of your ancestors. Do not forget elderly aunts and uncles who may have important things stashed away in trunks in the attic. Also try to determine who was responsible for probating the estates of ancestors, because they most likely have a file of important information.
Look for birth, marriage, and death certificates; Bible records; baptismal records; newspaper announcements about births, deaths, and marriages; pictures; diaries; letters; funeral cards. Try to identify people in the pictures.
Make copies of all important documents. You may only have one opportunity to see these items, so take advantage of it. With the permission of the owner, carry the information to the nearest copy center and make copies immediately. Promise to keep the owners of the information informed about any other data you find, and follow through on this promise.
Remember to keep documentation on where you found every item of information, to include who owns it and where they live.
Basic tool kit: pedigree chart; note paper; pencils (many libraries will not allow pens in their facilities); quarters for copying information and parking meters. (I keep quarters in 35-mm film canisters when I travel); a loose leaf binder or folder in which to keep your data; blank copies of family group sheets.
Expanded tool kit: camera (for copying tombstones); computer (to keep track of information); genealogy software package (to maintain data and print charts and data sheets); filing cabinet; family folders; membership in genealogical societies; internet access.
If you have any interest in one day preparing a family history or applying to a lineage society, you must keep accurate documentation. The purpose is to allow others to duplicate your work: it is similar to scientific research--if your work cannot be duplicated, it will not be believed.
Although you can include as much information as you want in the documentation, the following is an absolute necessity:
So, your reference may look like this:
Maryland State Archives (or MSA), 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, MD, Register of Wills, Baltimore County, MD, Book 1, page 25, Microfilm reel No. 12345
About birth and death records in Maryland:
Unfortunately, Maryland did not keep official birth and death records for many years. During the Colonial period, the Anglican Church was responsible for maintaining records of births, marriages, and deaths. The Quakers and Germans also maintained excellent records. Some of these church records go back to the 1600s.
The first official birth and death records were kept in Baltimore City beginning in 1875. The counties began keeping these records in 1898. There were some sporadic efforts by counties to maintain some records prior to 1898, but most of these efforts were short lived.
So, what to do? Check the following:
Maryland maintains a 100-year privacy period on birth certificates, unless you have proof that the person is deceased.
Maryland maintains a 10-year privacy period on death certificates. There are indices at the Maryland State Archives that enable you to locate the certificates. Many of the certificates contain the names and birth locations of the parents of the deceased, if the person reporting the death knew the information.
Important Sources of Information:
Social Security Death Index:
Provides birth and death dates and locations, if available. Provides information on how to obtain copies of original Social Security applications. www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/vital/ssdi/main.htm
Church records: birth, marriage, and death
1776 This Maryland census covers Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Anne, Talbot, Frederick, Harford, and Prince George's only.
1778 This Maryland census was taken to discover which free males had not taken the Oath of Fidelity. Covers Caroline, Charles, and Queen Anne's counties only.
Book indices are available for 1790-1860 in Maryland; there is also a book index for 1870 for Baltimore City/County only. The 1880, 1900, and 1920 censuses are indexed by the soundex system. Census records contain a wealth of important information; the following list emphasizes some of the more important.
Important Resource Centers
Maryland State Archives: 350 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, MD
The Archives is Maryland's repository for its records; it maintains a complete listing of holdings online:
Some of the important holdings include:
Maryland Historical Society; 201 West Monument Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
Manuscript and book catalogs are on line:
Web address: www.mdhs.org/library.html
Enoch Pratt Library, Central Branch: Cathedral and Franklin Streets, Baltimore, MD
The Maryland Department has an extensive collection of books containing genealogical information, as well as a newspaper clippings file, Baltimore Directories, and indices to the Maryland Historical Society magazines.
The Periodicals Department has an extensive microfilm collection of census and immigration records, telephone books, and Baltimore directories. It also maintains an extensive collection of Maryland newspapers containing marriage/death information. The Periodicals Department will respond to email requests for obituaries, for a small fee, if you give the death date. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Latter Day Saints Family History Centers
During the 1940s, the LDS Church began a massive program to microfilm church and courthouse records throughout the world. You can order microfilm at your local Fmily History Center for a minimum fee. Through LDS, you can obtain church registers, marriage, death, will and probate records, land records, etc.from around the world.
There are numerous lineage societies available that you may want to consider one day. These organizations are involved in a variety of patriotic, civic, and veteran activities. Many who join these organizations are also involved in Historical Reenactments. Obviously, the best known of these organizations is the Daughters of the American Revolution and its male counterpart, the Sons of the American Revolution. What they all have in common is that you must prove your lineage back far enough to meet their requirements. This includes proving birth/death/marriage dates and locations for each generation, as well as being able to link each generation to the previous one through documentation.
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