Collection #
Collection Name Collection #
Author Date
Microfilm Number
Series Number

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Please click here to browse through all MSA Special Collections.

Search Strategies

The Maryland State Archives Guide to Special Collections is a web-based tool to search and browse special collections of map, photographic, newspaper, private, business and religious records. For guidance on researching specific collections, see: Additional Search Strategies below.

If you have any questions, please contact

General Search Tips

  • For browsing or simple searches, use Keyword search under Quick Search.
  • For more specific searches, use the Advanced Search.
  • To navigate directly to a specific collection, series, or item with its collection number, use Collection Number search under Quick Search.
  • Be as general as possible with search terms. For example, the Baltimore Sun is cataloged as “Sun” and a search for “Baltimore Sun” will not return the right result.
  • If a search returns too many results, try refining your terms. If that is not possible you can use CTRL + F to find a desired term on the page.

"+" Search Modifier

When searching by Keyword, or using the Advanced Search’s Description field, the "+" operator can be used to focus search results. Use "+" to add additional terms to search by.
  • Example: "Baltimore + Photographs" searches for "Baltimore" AND "Photographs".
  • Example: "Baltimore American + 1915" searches for "Baltimore American" AND "1915".
Quick Search Quick Search
Provides easy access by keyword or by collection
  • Keyword Search searches multiple fields for the given keywords. It allows the use of the '+' search modifier.
    • Keyword searches the following fields:
      • Collection Name
      • Author
      • Description
      • Medium
  • Collection Number search navigates the user to the information page of the collection, series, or item of the given collection number.
    • Collection Number search uses only the numerical portion of the collection number, and does not require the "MSA SC" prefix.
      • Examples:
        • Collection Level: "1399"
        • Series Level: "1399-1"
        • Item Level: "1399-1-597"
        • Sub-Item Level: "1399-1-597-1"
Advanced Search Advanced Search
Search based upon selected criteria.
  • Collection Name searches name of collection, which often is named after a newspaper title, family, or the collection donor.
  • Collection Number searches collection number assigned to each collection. It is a unique number, like a Library call number. It does not require the "MSA SC" prefix.
  • Author searches author of collection. Different collections use multiple formats for the author field. If searching by name, use last name. Only use last name, first name syntax if necessary.
  • Description searches description field of collection. It allows use of the "+" search modifier
  • Date searches date field of collection for the text entered. For example, if "1896" is entered, "1896", "1896/12/30", and "1640-1896" would be returned but not "1890-1900". When searching for a specific date, use the format year then month then day including leading zeros, example "1663/09/09".
Additional Search Strategies Additional Search Strategies
Access specific types of records.
For General historical photograph inquiries and thumbnail images of our most-requested collections of photographs circa 1860 to 1939, see: Historical Photographs of Maryland (mdhistpics). For descriptions of photographs in other collections, keyword search our Guide to Special Collections.

For Church record inquiries, see: Guide to Religious Institutions in Maryland.

For Map inquiries: The Maryland State Archives Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland 1608-1908, by Edward C. Papenfuse and Joseph M. Coale III (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), provides an excellent overview. See: Map Collections Guide for historic maps by cartographer or by title.

For Newspaper inquiries, see: Guide to Maryland Newspapers.

For In-depth historical or genealogical research, see: list of private researchers and genealogists.

This web site is presented for reference purposes under the doctrine of fair use. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: The site may contain material from other sources which may be under copyright. Rights assessment, and full originating source citation, is the responsibility of the user.

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