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Welcome to the Baltimore City Archives

ADDRESS: 2615 Mathews St, Baltimore MD 21218 [Directions]Welcome to the Baltimore City Archives
PHONE: 410-396-3884
HOURS (by appointment only): Monday-Friday, 9:00am-3:00pm
***[See Upcoming Holiday Closings for days we are closed]***
E-MAIL: baltimorecityarchives@gmail.com

RESEARCH:
If you are interested in researching through our records, please visit our Research at the Baltimore City Archives page.

RESEARCH APPOINTMENTS:
If you are interested in scheduling a research appointment, please visit our Planning Your Visit page. The City Archives is pleased to host researchers, but due to staffing limitations, all visits must be by appointment.

FEES AND CHARGES:
Research appointments (during which researchers are welcome to bring digital cameras- see Policies) are free to the public by appointment only. If you are interested in our other services (research, digitization, prints), please visit Fees and Charges.

THE STATUS OF THE BCA:
The Baltimore City Archives, in conjunction with the Maryland State Archives, is the central depository for Baltimore City government records of permanent value.

In order to fully explore the public record of the public history of Baltimore City, it is essential that researchers both understand the nature and extent of the public record and lend their support to its preservation and access.

Through a memorandum of understanding between the City of Baltimore and the Maryland State Archives, with matching funds provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission for the online cataloging of the historical records of Baltimore City into the Maryland State Archives Guide to Government Records, some stability, however fragile, has come to the records of Baltimore City.

The years of neglect from the late 1980s until just a few years ago took their toll. Archival records such as early papers of the mayors of Baltimore contain fungal/mold decay and pest damage from previous buildings with leaky ceilings and poor pest control. A new adequate storage facility has been rented by the City, and more funding is being sought to strengthen our ability to restore, preserve, and access the permanent public records of Baltimore. Please join financially in support of the Baltimore City Archives by donating today at the Friends of the Maryland State Archives website.

49 Comments leave one →
  1. Ray Glenn Klinger permalink
    July 16, 2013 6:35 pm

    I’d like to acquire a copy of my Birth Certificate.

  2. Eerik permalink
    July 31, 2013 7:39 pm

    How true is it that many [city] records were lost in the 1904 Baltimore Fire? Specifically, property/real estate records? There seems to be a sort of urban legend in Baltimore among real estate professionals the 1904 Fire wiped-out dates of when buildings were constructed — hence a generic rounded-off date for the date a structure was built.

  3. August 8, 2013 11:01 am

    The courthouse and city hall were not lost in the fire and no records stored there were destroyed by the fire. The generic rounded off date appears in the Assessment and Taxation records because research on the building construction dates was not done with the available evidence. The urban legend is just that, a legend.

    Ed Papenfuse
    City Archivist pro temp

    • Eerik permalink
      August 8, 2013 2:44 pm

      I knew the courthouse and city hall escaped the fire but wasn’t 100% certain whether the city may have had a smaller municipal owned or rented storage/archive elsewhere within the burnt district. While it is well known about the many downtown businesses that managed to evacuate vital documents — however in many instances there just wasn’t enough time or means to transport everything. With all the uncertainty of the path of the fire, I wonder if the courthouse and city hall contents were being evacuated? After all, the fire could not have come closer to either building. (And if I am replying to a response from the Edward C. Papenfuse: many thanks! Both for your clarification and a wonderful book of Maryland maps that adorns my bookshelf!)

  4. Doris Keil-Shamieh permalink
    August 12, 2013 1:48 pm

    What kinds of records does the Baltimore City Archives hold? I’m researching my family from the early 1800s. Would your archives hold any information that may help me?

  5. Regina Mildenberger permalink
    September 1, 2013 6:16 pm

    Have a copy of my birth certificate from Baltimore 1943 it is not recognized by DMV for new license. Why?

    • Amy James permalink*
      September 23, 2013 11:48 am

      Regina, I don’t have the answer to that. Birth certificates are court records and therefore the responsibility of the State Archives. They may be able to answer your question.

    • Antoinette Munford permalink
      October 1, 2013 8:11 pm

      Regina, I too was born in the 1940′s and thought I had a birth certificate that my mother gave to me. It was a yellowish-gold record of birth, but not a true birth certificate. Had to send for the real deal for a cost of $25.

  6. Antoinette Munford permalink
    September 13, 2013 4:45 pm

    My family genealogy research came to a halt because most of the 1890 Census records were destroyed in a fire. The 1890 records are pertinent for me to find my ancestors, where they lived in Baltimore and what they were doing at that time. Are there any 1890 Maryland or Baltimore City Census for that year? What other records are available to search? I have done some research of the Baltimore City Directories, but apparently, my ancestors had pretty common names, and because there are so many with the same name, I cannot be sure I have the correct ancestor. Thank you for your assistance.

  7. David Clurman permalink
    October 3, 2013 12:58 pm

    I am attempting to locate land records from the 1850s. I’ve been to http://www.mdlandrec.net and looked at the indexes and found entries for the transactions that I wish to view. However, I don’t see any documents related to the actual transfer of property – only the index. Where can I see the deeds that the index refers to? Thank you!

    • Amy James permalink*
      October 3, 2013 1:01 pm

      Mdlandrec.net is maintained by the Maryland State Archives, who also cares for those records. You can contact them via e-mail at msa.helpdesk@maryland.gov or by phone at 410-260-6400 or toll free 1-800-235-4045.

  8. October 8, 2013 6:50 pm

    My 3rd great-greatparents came from Baltimore,Maryland. Charles Adams b 1829 how do you get a copy from that date when they didn’t start recording dates until 1875. I went to the church where they were married to get the marriage license and couldn’t get it they were locked up in a volt. I usually go on the Mormon site but they show no image. Thanks, Debra Miller. xstitchdeb@yahoo.com

    • Amy James permalink*
      October 22, 2013 7:15 pm

      Unfortunately, we can’t help too much with that. The Maryland State Archives holds all of the birth, death, marriage, and other court records for the state, and they also maintain a lot of different church records, so I would suggest getting in touch with them.

  9. Jason Otremba permalink
    October 23, 2013 3:44 pm

    The Archived Baltimore Sun periodically gave Pre-prohibition listings for “Liquor license petitions”. For example, June 4, 1906 states ” Office of the Liquor License Commissioners, Room 306, Courthouse”, then listed the Name address and Ward. Do further records exist for these listings? Where are they archived?

    • Amy James permalink*
      October 23, 2013 3:51 pm

      Unfortunately, nothing from the Liquor Board prior to the repeal of Prohibition has survived.

  10. Robert Rawa permalink
    October 25, 2013 12:27 am

    Heard United church of Christ Gave their records to MSS recently since their closing of church at 1728 eastern ave Balto 21231. How can I find Batismal Certificate from 1931 or 1932?

    • Amy James permalink*
      October 25, 2013 10:56 am

      Robert, I would presume you need to contact them. We don’t have the records here.

  11. David Oktavec permalink
    November 6, 2013 4:52 am

    Trying to find the class roster from 1961 and 1962 at what was then Saint Paul’s Roman Catholic Church and School at N. Caroline and Oliver St. in Baltimore Md.

    • Amy James permalink*
      November 6, 2013 12:05 pm

      David- unfortunately, we do not house materials like that. However, the archdiocese has their own archives on Roland Ave. I would suggest checking with them. http://www.archbalt.org/about-us/archives.cfm

      • David Oktavec permalink
        November 27, 2013 1:39 pm

        Thanks Amy, I will give that a try. Have a GREAT and BLESSED Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

  12. LynetricBbridges permalink
    December 26, 2013 9:42 pm

    I am searching for a picture of the apartment projects located at 800 Bethune Road in Cherry Hill

    • Amy James permalink*
      January 9, 2014 2:30 pm

      Unfortunately, we probably don’t have pictures of those apartment projects- most of the pictures we have of housing document houses before they were demolished. I would suggest checking with the Maryland Historical Society, or the Maryland Department at the Enoch Pratt Free Library to see if either of them can help you.

  13. Kate Brower permalink
    January 3, 2014 8:48 pm

    I am looking to find the building plans for a particular property — 1823 Madison Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217. Do you have these records and is it possible to get a digital copy?

    Thank you.

    • Amy James permalink*
      January 9, 2014 2:28 pm

      Kate,
      If those plans exist in the city government system (which they simply might not, depending on when the building was built, and for whom), they would be at Plans Examining (you can see their contact info here: http://www.baltimorehousing.org/permit_procedure)

      • Kate Brower permalink
        January 9, 2014 8:41 pm

        Thank you!

  14. January 9, 2014 3:21 pm

    What is a bounty application? I have several Baltimore ancestors who made a 4774 bounty application around 1862 and 1863. Thank you.

    • Amy James permalink*
      January 9, 2014 8:03 pm

      The bounty applications were typically family members applying for the money owed to Union soldiers in the Civil War. Without knowing your specific circumstance, my guess would be that your ancestors were all listed on the same bounty application for money owed, and the HRS number for that bounty application for that year (1862 or 1863) is 4774.

  15. Joanne Berends permalink
    January 13, 2014 12:44 am

    My great grandmother was born in either Austria or Germany. She came to this country in
    1882 and wasn’t naturalized. During World War ONE she had to go and fill out a form. Do
    you have any suggestions as to what kind of form she may have filled out? Thanks for
    any insight you can give us on this.

    • Amy James permalink*
      January 13, 2014 12:23 pm

      I would suggest contacting the National Archives and Records Administration to see what they could tell you about that. It sounds like maybe she had to declare loyalty to the US.

      • Joanne Berends permalink
        January 13, 2014 1:41 pm

        Thanks Amy. I did find something called a Declaration of Intention. I’ll have to look into that.

  16. Karen Nicolaus permalink
    January 23, 2014 1:30 am

    I need to determine if 2 addresses existed in 1988. They are:

    1109 Orleans Street, Baltimore 21202 – James Washington

    404 West Baltimore Street, 21201 – William M. Toadvine

    Neither of these addresses exists as far as I can tell in Md. Land Records now, but perhaps there was construction since that time? Do you house City Directories or have any other resources which can determine whether they were valid addresses in 1988? Please advise. Thanks so much.

    • Amy James permalink*
      January 31, 2014 3:31 pm

      Karen, we do not have City directories or any other resources like that for 1988. MD Land Records are your best bet, so I would suggest contacting the Maryland State Archives (they maintain MDLandRec) and getting help using the resources there to answer your question.

    • Jason Otremba permalink
      January 31, 2014 9:57 pm

      1109 Orleans St would have been on block #1313. The MD Land Records block book for years 1977 to 1988 has no entries for 1313. Page 422 is for block 1312 & page 423 is for block 1314.

      • Amy James permalink*
        February 3, 2014 11:55 am

        I would still suggest contacting the Maryland State Archives, just to verify.

  17. January 30, 2014 3:53 pm

    I need to find out the date of my parents actual marriage date and even though I am in ancestry.com I can find it no where. I just need the date not even paper work how do i find it and why can I not find it?? 1963/1964 Baltimore County Beulah B Deal and Stuart M Jessop (FEB13,1913) (March 1 1899)

    • Amy James permalink*
      January 31, 2014 3:28 pm

      Melanie- marriage records are located at the Maryland State Archives. I would suggest contacting them for more information.

  18. Joanne permalink
    January 31, 2014 6:57 pm

    When I was up in Maryland my SIL took advantage of a special and joined ancestry.com and she called them when we couldn’t find our ancestors who were married in 1893. They told her that in Maryland their records are only from the early 1800s and on back nothing after that. I did find on either this site or a link to the MD state archives my ancestors married in 1864. It was the same form my mom and her cousin found in the 1990s when they went to the state archives. Ancestry.com told my sister in law that they don’t like to give out information about people who could still be living to just anyone.

  19. Jason Otremba permalink
    January 31, 2014 7:59 pm

    Through the name index I found a card for Frank Bumba. What further information is available and what is the process for finding it?
    The card stated: ” Bumba, Frank. 1900 – (600) Lay Tracks.”
    Also, what do the numbers mean?

    • Amy James permalink*
      February 3, 2014 12:49 pm

      Jason, if you want to view the record itself, please contact us at baltimorecityarchives[at]gmail[dot]com, or make an appointment through our research appointment form here: http://baltimorecityhistory.net/about-3/research-appointments/. As for the numbers, the first number- 1900, is the year the record was created. The (600) is the number that the WPA’s Historical Records Survey assigned to this record when they surveyed our collections in the 1930s. They started at 1 for each year they surveyed, and went until there were no more records for that year, so this is the 600th record they surveyed from 1900. You can use our Conversion chart to see which record group this is a part of today: http://baltimorecityhistory.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/wpa_hrs_record_groups.pdf

  20. Hannah Jones permalink
    February 20, 2014 9:14 am

    How would you prefer I cite the materials I viewed at the archives in my paper? For example, if I want to cite “Hospital, Report Relating to,” RG19, Series 1, Box 1, Item 225?

    • Amy James permalink*
      February 20, 2014 12:52 pm

      Hannah,
      You’re actually combining two methods of citation on the record that you mentioned. Unfortunately, our system is confusing because there is a legacy method of cataloging and a newer method of cataloging. So, for the record you mention, you can either cite it with its MSA citation (preferred), or you can cite it with its HRS citation. The MSA citation would be BRG19-1-1-2, which you can find by going into the Guide to Government Records (guide.mdsa.net), and typing in the beginning of the citation (BRG19-1) into the “Jump by Series ID” box. From there, you can click down through the details to the item you wish to cite, and the citation is listed on the right hand side of the screen (http://guide.mdsa.net/series.cfm?action=viewSeries&ID=brg19-1-1)- you don’t need to include the BCA part of the citation, because you should also be including the full name of our archives, “Baltimore City Archives” in with the citation. You can also cite by the older arrangement, which is the HRS number, or the Item number that you mention in your comment. To cite with that, you need to include the year and HRS number like this: 1798 (225), and “Baltimore City Archives”. Each year the numbers start back at 1, so you can’t just cite the HRS number, because there is a 225 for every year that was indexed. Hope this is helpful to you- if not, please let me know what I need to clarify!

  21. Diane Williams permalink
    March 12, 2014 10:29 pm

    My great grandfather was a photographer in Baltimore ca 1860-1870. I would love to find out more information about him. His name was William L Spedden. He was also a photographer in Washington DC
    I would appreciate any suggestions or ideas you can offer.

    • Amy James permalink*
      March 19, 2014 3:14 pm

      Diane, if we have any records related to your great grandfather, he should be in our name index, which you can access here: http://guide.mdsa.net/series.cfm?action=viewDetailedSeries&ID=BRG76-3. I would suggest also contacting the Maryland State Archives, the Maryland Historical Society, and the Maryland Department of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. They all have much more robust cultural photograph collections and may be able to help you in your search.

      • Diane Williams permalink
        March 20, 2014 6:45 pm

        Thank-you so much!

  22. Joanne Berends permalink
    April 2, 2014 1:56 am

    Where would 305 North Point road in Canton in the 1880 census be in today’s Baltimore city? Thanks.

    • Amy James permalink*
      April 2, 2014 11:12 am

      In Practical Points for Conveyancers (http://baltimorecityhistory.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/duvall_practicalpoints.pdf), L.M. Duvall says that Point Rd is now Broadway. Looking at the 1887 street directory within the city directory (when renumbering occurred), 305 N. then is now 943 N., which is not Canton but the neighbhorhood now called Middle East, around Johns Hopkins’ medical campus. Does the census say that Point Rd. was in Canton?

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