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I have one word for you regarding the Archives of Maryland Online: 


Actually, I was considering another word, Kafkaesque, which the ever-helpful Wikipedia describes as "...marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity...".   Well, perhaps that's a bit harsh. 

But the Maryland Archives are the most convoluted and user-unfriendly collections that I've yet to come across. (And if memory serves, they weren't that way when I last used them, about two years ago.  That's progress for you!). 

If you want to find something here, I suggest using the Maryland Archives search function, which isn't half bad.  You can try navigating their menus, of course, but all I can say there is good luck.

To make matters worse, Maryland requires a username and password to access much of its content.   Why they would do this is beyond me, but it seems that the guest username aaco and password aaco# will work in many cases, but for some collections, such as Wills, you need to apply for a separate password. 

OK.  Now that I'm done whining, it's time to acknowledge that there's a lot of great content here, for family history or general history research, or for anyone just curious to know more about Maryland's heritage.  There's no easy way to summarize what's here, so let me just highlight a few key resources:

The Site Index is a good place to begin perusing; it's a listing for the entire Archives (not just online materials), but it's still a good overview.    It's too large to list it all here, but here are the "A" listings, just to give you an idea:
  • Admiralty Court Papers Index
  • Adoption Records
  • African Americans in Maryland
  • African American Resources
  • African Americans in Baltimore in 1871
  • African Americans in Baltimore in 1881
  • African American Soldiers & Sailors from Annapolis Maryland: 1863-1918
  • Annapolis City Directory, 1924
  • Annapolis Collection
  • Archives & Libraries
  • Archives of Maryland Online
  • Archives, History & Construction
  • Art Collections
  • Artwork on Exhibit in Government House
  • Assessment of 1783, Index
(Try accessing the Annapolis City Directory if you want to get an idea of how clumsy this site can be....whoops...I said I was done whining, didn't I?)

An easy to overlook resource are the Maryland State Archives Indices, which include some of the best family history lookup tools the state has to offer.  There is a lot of genealogical information scattered about:

  • Vital Records - Death Indexes, late 1800's to mid 1900's.  Nice to have these online, but they're not much easier to scroll through than the original microfilms.  Here's a description of the vital records collection. 

  • Maryland State Archives Census Indexes (1776, 1778, 1870, 1880)

  • Early Settlers of Maryland, with 34,326 entries

  • Beneath the Underground: Slavery Databases, including general and slave census, runaways, prisoner records, slave jails, pardons. 

Some good general history collections:

Photographic Archives of Maryland, which, amazingly, have no photos of onetime Governor Spiro Agnew, though I managed to find one with the sitewide search funtion.

Maryland State Archives Map Collections

African American Research at The Maryland State Archives.  There's a lot here, including slave censuses, and Civil War colored troop rolls.

Web Publications of the Maryland State Archives, a list of various collections that seemingly focus on online content. 

Teaching American History in Maryland, bringing historical resource materials and professional-development experiences to K-12 U.S. history teachers.

A variety of On-Line Exhibits, including the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame.

The official State Archives aren't the only game in town.  The Maryland Historical Society also has some excellent online collections:
  • Eubie Blake Collection, for you jazz enthusiasts
  • Star-Spangled Banner Sheet Music Collection
  • Obsolete Currency
  • Photograph Collection
  • Painting Collection

There's also the Maryland Historical Trust's Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties.

By the way, here's the homepage of the Maryland State Archives (as distinct from their online collections). 

More historical archives and research materials can be found at these excellent resources:

 Historical Newspaper Archives         

 Genealogy Tools                                US Historical Newspapers        

 European Historical Newspapers        International Historical Newspapers

Court Record Searches                        Public Records Searches 

Intelius - Public Records Information