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The Demography of Baltimore City: Sources

Tracking the changes over time in the distribution and character of the population of Baltimore is complicated by the ever changing and ill-defined boundaries of Federal and Police census taking, and neighborhood definitions over the City’s history, but with Heritage Quest and Ancestry.com’s digitization and indexing of the census records and the widespread availability of ward, block and street level mapping, it is possible to isolate place and people within the bounds of the city in studying change over time.

Once the researcher is familiar with the physical and general demographic changes that take place over time in Baltimore, then a thorough grounding in the general secondary literature on the history of the city is required.

The principal sources for an overview and the detail of the demography of Baltimore are the census records (current, recent, and historical), the city directories, land records, manumission records, and the tax rolls.  There are  State, City and Federal census records. Federal records are on line at Ancestry.com and Heritage QuestAncestry.com costs money.  Heritage Quest is usually available for free through a public library account.    Fortunately for Maryland and for Baltimore City, reasonably decent scans of the microfilm of census schedules are available from http://archive.org.  Simply search for census Maryland.  City directories have been compiled on our page, some of which are available online, and others are only available at various institutions. Tax records for the city exist on microfilm and in the original at the Maryland State Archives and the Baltimore City Archives.   In 1981, Richard J. Cox published a index to the earliest extant city tax rolls to 1808, now in BRG4.   See: Cox, Richard J., ed. Name Index to the Baltimore City Tax Records, 1798 – 1808, of the Baltimore City Archives, Baltimore City Archives and Records Management Office, n.pl., 1981. Scans of the tax records will be linked from BRG4 as an on-going project of the Baltimore City Archives.  For Baltimore City, between 1928 and 1987, the City participated in the publication of printed volumes of Tax assessments arranged by address.  They are available at the Pratt Library and at the Baltimore City Archives in BRG4 Series 6.

When looking for people, Cyndi’s list will point the way to an extraordinary array of genealogical sources.

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