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Project History

Introduction

Since the establishment of the Hall of Records in 1935, the Maryland State Archives has been aware of the importance of church and synagogue records as a significant primary source for historians and genealogists. Since systematic recording of vital records was not established until 1875 for Baltimore City and 1898 for Maryland counties, religious records are often the only source for birth and death information.

Guide to the Records

Patterned after the Guide to Maryland Newspapers, the Directory of Maryland Religious Institutions Featuring the Religious Records Collections of the Maryland State Archives is an attempt to identify religious organizations across the state in order to assist researchers in identifying the location of churches and synagogues that might be relevant to their research. Entries in the guide are based upon materials already in the custody of the Maryland State Archives and on the Historical Records Survey of Churches compiled in 1935-1941 by the Works Progress Administration (MSA S 1512). Additional entries were compiled from atlases and directories.

Types of Records

There are five basic types of religious records which are preserved. Exact titles of these records will vary, but they basically consist of:
  • Administrative Records. These often include minutes of the Board of Trustees, session minutes, official board minutes, and vestry minutes.
  • Vital Records. Usually membership records, registers of births, marriages, deaths, etc. In some denominations, such information is recorded in the administrative records.
  • Financial Records. Usually treasurer's records, account books, and steward's records.
  • Miscellaneous Records. Those records unique to a particular denomination, such as Bar Mitzvah and Bas Mitzvah records, class books, missionary records, or cemetery records.
  • Loose Papers or Documents. May be composed of letters, plats, deeds, loose minutes, receipts, etc.

This information resource of the Maryland State Archives is presented here for fair use in the public domain. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: Rights assessment for associated source material is the responsibility of the user.


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