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
Guide to the Records
Patterned after the Guide to
, the Directory
of Maryland Religious Institutions Featuring the
Religious Records Collections of the Maryland
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:
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
- Financial Records. Usually
treasurer's records, account books, and steward's
- 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.