Maryland History and Research Overview

Maryland History and Research Overview

Learn about Maryland's history and available records in this research guide that includes a map and bibliography.

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

Like many colonial American territories, Maryland was a giant land-grant, given to Cecil Calvert, Second Baron of Baltimore, in 1632. Cecil was the son of George Calvert, who was the secretary of state under King James I of England — a title he was stripped of when he converted to Catholicism. The grant was given to Cecil after his father passed away. But another son, Leonard, led the first colonists — Catholic and Protestant English — to what became St. Mary’s, the first capital. Maryland, or “Terra Mary,” was named for the wife of King Charles I, Henrietta Maria, and was also known as Maria’s Land and Mariland.

Of particular note in Maryland’s history is the Act of Toleration that was passed in 1649. The act encouraged settlement by “nonconformists” including Catholics, Virginian dissenters, and Quakers by guaranteeing that those who were intolerant would be fined, and if they couldn’t pay the fine, jailed. Unfortunately, this did not last long — the government of Maryland was overthrown in 1689 in a Protestant coup and the Anglican church became the state church of Maryland. In 1715 Lord Baltimore converted to Protestantism and the proprietary government was restored, though the Catholics found themselves disfranchised in 1781.

Germans from Pennsylvania began to enter the counties of Baltimore and Frederick in the 1730s. Quakers migrated from New Jersey at about the same time. Not all of those coming into the state were from other colonies, however — in the mid-1700s there was an influx of Jacobites, servants and felons from England. As these people were coming into Maryland, many Catholics were heading for Kentucky and Moravians for North Carolina. And don’t forget that once the National Road was completed from Cumberland to Wheeling it gave Marylanders a route to the recently opened West.

COUNTY MAP
(click to enlarge)
Maryland state map with county outlines

RESEARCH TIPS

  • Baltimore is an independent city. It began keeping court, land, and probate records separate from Baltimore County in 1851.
  • Check both Union and Confederate Civil War records — Maryland residents fought on both sides.
  • Check all trepositories when it comes to records in Maryland. Many county records are now housed at the state archive.

CENSUS RECORDS

  • Federal Census: 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
  • Federal Mortality Schedules: 1850. 1860, 1870, 1880
  • Special census of Civil War Union veterans and widows: 1890

GENERAL RESOURCES

  • Anglican Maryland, 1692-1792 by Canon Arthur Pierce Middleton (The Donning Co./Publishers, 1992)
  • Archives of Maryland, New Series, Vol. 1 (Maryland State Archives Publications, 1990)
  • Baltimore County Families, 1659-1759 by Robert W. Barnes (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1989)
  • Biographical Cyclopedia of Representative Men of Maryland and District of Columbia (National Biographical Publishing Co., 1879)
  • A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789, 2 vols. by Edward C. Papenfuse, et al. (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985)
  • British Roots of Maryland Families by Robert Barnes (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999)
  • Calendar of Maryland State Papers: No. 1 — The Black Books from the Maryland Hall of Records (Clearfield Co., 1995)
  • The Calvert Papers: Calendar and Guide to the Microfilm Edition by Donna M. Ellis and Karen A. Stuart (Maryland Historical Society, 1973)
  • Captains and Mariners of Early Maryland by Raphael T. Semmes (The John Hopkins Press, 1937)
  • Chronicles of Colonial Maryland by James Walter Thomas (Clearfield Co., 1995)
  • Church Records at the Maryland State Archives (Maryland State Archives, 2002)
  • Colonial Chesapeake Society by Lois Green Carr, et al. (Frontier Press, 1988)
  • Colonial Families of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Vol., 2. by Robert W. Barnes and F. Edward Wright (Family Line Publications, 1996)
  • Directory of Maryland Church Records compiled by Edna Agatha Kanely (Family Line Publications, 1987)
  • Directory of Ministers and the Maryland Churches They Served, 1634-1990, 2 vols. by Edna Agatha Kanely (Family Line Publications, 1991)
  • Early Families of Southern Maryland, 5 vols. by Elise Greenup Jordan (Family Line Publications, 1995)
  • The First Parishes of the Province of Maryland by Percy G. Skirven (Clearfield Company, 1997)
  • The Flowering of the Maryland Palatinate by Harry Wright Newman (Clearfield Co., 1985)
  • The Free State of Maryland: A History of the State and Its People, 1634-1941, 4 vols. by Frederic Arnold Kummer (Allen County Public Library, ca. 1980)
  • Genealogical and Memorial Encyclopedia of the State of Maryland by Richard Henry Spencer (Clearfield Co., 1992)
  • Genealogical Research in Maryland: A Guide, 4th edition, by Mary Keysor Meyer (Maryland Historical Society, 1992)
  • General History Section Index of Scharf’s History of Western Maryland by Helen R. Long (Helen R. Long, 1992)
  • A Guide to Government Records at the Maryland State Archives (Maryland State Archives, 1992)
  • A Guide to Historic Episcopal Churches of Southern Maryland, 1634-1984 (Printing Press, ca. 1990)
  • A Guide to the Maryland Hall of Records: Local, Judicial and Administrative Records on Microfilm by Edward C. Papenfuse, et al. (Hall of Records Commission, 1978)
  • A Guide to the Microfilm Collection of Newspapers at the Maryland State Archives by Les White (MD State Archives, 1990)
  • Guide to the Research Collections of the Maryland Historical Society edited by Richard J. Cox and Larry E. Sullivan (Maryland Historical Society, 1981)
  • Guide to State Agency Records: Histories and Series Descriptions (Maryland State Archives Publications, 1994)
  • A History of Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends by Bliss A. Forbush (Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1972)
  • History of the Church of the Brethren in Maryland by J. Maurice Henry (Brethren Publishing, 1936)
  • History of Maryland, 3 vols. (Tradition Press, 1967, reprint)
  • The History of Maryland, from Its First Settlement in 1633 to the Restoration in 1660, Vol., 1 by John Leeds Bozeman (Baltimore: Heritage Books, 1990)
  • History of Western Maryland by John T. Scharf (Regional Publishing Co., 1968)
  • An Index to the Source Records of Maryland: Genealogical, Historical by Eleanor P. Passano (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1984)
  • Inside the Great House: Planter Family Life in Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake Society by Daniel Blake Smith (Frontier Press, 1994)
  • Inventory of the Church Archives of Maryland: Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Maryland (Historical Records Survey, 1940)
  • Inventory of Maryland Bible Records from the Genealogical Council of Maryland (Family Line Publications, 1989)
  • The Manuscript Collections of the Maryland Historical Society compiled by Avril J.M. Pedley (Maryland Historical Society, 1969)
  • Maryland Biographical Sketch Index by Samuel M. Andrusko (Samuel M. Adrusko, 1983)
  • Maryland and Delaware Genealogies and Family Histories: A Bibliography by Donald Odell Virdin (Heritage Books, 1993)
  • Maryland Deponents, 1634-1799 by Henry C. Peden Jr. (Family Line Publications, 1991)
  • The Maryland Gazette, 1727-1761: Genealogical and Historical Abstracts by Karen M. Green (Frontier Press, 1990)
  • Maryland Genealogical Library Guide by John W. Heisey (Masthof Press, 1998)
  • Maryland Genealogical Research by George K. Schweitzer (George K. Schweitzer, 1991)
  • Maryland: A History, 1632-1974 edited by Richard Walsh and William Lloyd Fox (Maryland Historical Society, 1974)
  • Maryland, A History of Its People edited by Suzanne Ellery Greene Chapelle (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986)
  • Maryland Lost and Found: People and Places from Chesapeake to Appalachia by Eugene L. Meyer (John Hopkins University Press, 1986)
  • Maryland: A Middle Tempermant, 1634-1980 by Robert J. Brugger (Frontier Press, 1990)
  • Maryland Records: Colonial Revolutionary, County and Church from Original Sources, 2 vols., by Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993)
  • Maryland Research Guide by John W. Heisey (Heritage House, 1986)
  • Maryland Research Outline by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (online at http://familysearch.org/eng/searcg/RG/guide/maryland)
  • Marylanders to Kentucky, 1775-1825 by Henry C. Peden Jr. (Family Line Publications, 1991)
  • Men of Mark in Maryland: Biographies of Leading Men in the State, 4 vols. (Johnson-Wynne Co., 1907-12)
  • Mistress of Riversdale: The Plantation Letters of Rosalie Stier Calvert, 1795-1821 by Margaret L. Callcott (Frontier Press, 1991)
  • More Maryland Deponents, 1716-1799 by Henry C. Peden Jr. (Family Line Publications, 1992)
  • Newspapers in Maryland Libraries: A Union List by Eleanor O. Hofstetter (Division of Library Development Services, Maryland State Department of Education, 1977)
  • Newspapers at the Maryland State Archives (Maryland State Archives, 2002)
  • Obituaries, Bible Records, Church Records, Family Genealogies, County Records, etc. for Frederick County, Maryland, 1800-1977 by Jacob Mehrling Holdcraft (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975, 1977)
  • Old Kent: The Eastern Shore of Maryland by George A. Hanson (Clearfield Company, 1996)
  • The Old Line State: A History of Maryland by Morris Leon Radoff (Hall of Records Commission, 1971)
  • Old Somerset on the Eastern Shore of Maryland by Clayton Torrence (Clearfield Company, 1996)
  • The Pennsylvania-German in the Settlement of Maryland by Daniel Wunderlich Nead (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1975)
  • Pioneers of Old Monocacy: The Early Settlement of Frederick County, Maryland, 1721-1743 by Grace L. Tracey and John P. Dern (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987)
  • Portrait and Biographical Record of the Eastern Shore of Maryland (Chapman, 1898)
  • Portrait and Biographical Record of the Sixth Congressional District, Maryland: Containing Portraits and Biographies (Chapman, 1898)
  • The Price of Freedom: Slavery and Manumission in Baltimore and Early National Maryland by T. Stephen Whitman (University Press of Kentucky, 1997)
  • Quaker Records in Maryland by Phebe R. Jacobsen (Hall of Records Commission, 1966)
  • Quaker Records of Southern Maryland, 1658-1800 by Henry C. Peden Jr. (Family Line Publications, 1992)
  • Register of Maryland’s Heraldic Families 1634-1935, 2 vols., by Alice Parran (Parran, 1937)
  • Robert Cole’s World: Agriculture & Society in Early Maryland by Lois Green Carr, et al. (Frontier Press, 1991)
  • Scots on the Chesapeake, 1607-1830 by David Dobson (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1985)
  • Selected Maryland Bibliography and Resources, 2 vols., by Barbara S. Giles (B.S. Giles, ca. 1988-1989)
  • Side-lights on Maryland History with Sketches of Early Maryland Families, 2 vols., by Hester Dorsey Richardson (Genealogy Publishing Co., 1995)
  • Sketches of Maryland Eastern Shoremen (Family Line Publications, 1992)
  • Sources of Genealogical Help in Maryland (Southern California Genealogical Society)
  • Sources for Genealogical Searching in Maryland by Betty L. McCay (B.L. McCay, 1972)
  • To Maryland from Overseas by Harry Wright Newman (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1991)


Return to the main Maryland page

From the Family Tree Sourcebook
Also available: the State Research Guide Book, State Research Guides CD and The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.

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