The Archivist's Bulldog

Vol. 10 No. 17, Newsletter of the Maryland State Archives, September 9, 1996

by Pat Melville

[Continuation of analysis of ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Grand Jury Reports) 1933-1966 [MSA C2137] and ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION (Grand Jury Reports) 1969-1981 [MSA CM1178].]

A major component of the investigative work of each grand jury involved the education system and individual school facilities throughout the county. Until the 1970s the grand jury school committees primarily focused on school buildings. As the task of visiting each school became too burdensome and inefficient, the jurors concentrated on the education system as a whole and inspected a few representative facilities.

From the school building inspections the grand juries found many system wide problems. A 1935 jury report identified two matters needing immediate attention. Larger schools, especially Southern High School and Wiley Bates High School, and others in remote areas needed telephone service. Many smaller, rural schools, especially those attended by African Americans, lacked water, a condition that persisted for at least another decade. Pupils either relied on kind neighbors or brought their own water to school.

Transportation of students was often a concern of the grand jury. In 1937, it complained about overcrowded school buses. The next year it recommended passage of a law compelling cars to stop when a school bus was loading or unloading children. Apparently there had been several accidents involving pupils at bus stops. During World War II the school system had to contend with gas rationing even though school buses were assigned a priority. The jury suggested that students be transported to schools in their districts, rather than out of them, and questioned why the federal government gave school buses and beverage trucks the same priority rating for gasoline. Several reports discussed excessive bussing in later years, an issue that was part of a larger concern involving segregation or large school campuses.

School overcrowding was, and still is, a perennial problem. But in 1950 the grand jury "was impressed by the great amount of time and thought which have obviously been devoted to the planning and development of an improved school system. In all instances where overcrowding and poor housing were found, there was also found a plan for correcting these conditions." By 1960 some schools were holding split sessions in order to accommodate large numbers of students.

Sometimes recommendations of grand juries contradicted each other. In 1952, the jury suggested the construction of consolidated schools as a means to eliminate poor conditions in African American schools in southern Anne Arundel County. By 1974 there was some sentiment that the process of consolidation had gone too far. Neighborhood schools were viewed more favorably than large campus like schools. "Local community schools may limit a curriculum but the students would have a closer relationship with the teachers and with each other."

After the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, school integration became a concern of the grand jury. A 1963 report questioned the sincerity of school board policies by citing "token integration" whereby a few African American students attended "ostensibly all-white schools" and by noting "the continued existence of numerous all-negro schools." One such facility was Bates High School in Annapolis. Black secondary students were given the option attending Bates or a school nearest their homes. Many chose Bates, thus traveling by bus past under utilized schools to a severely overcrowded facility. Gradually this policy of school selection was abolished, and system wide integration took place.

The next article in this series on grand jury reports will concern the investigations of individual schools.

Welcome to new employee Ben Zsoko who is working in the Computer Services Department.

by Arian Ravanbakhsh

Geographic Services recently completed another productive summer. With the help of our intern, Amanda Sampson, we embarked on a project to accession and make available the entire archival collection of Anne Arundel County plats. Targeting Anne Arundel County for completion was fairly easy, given that almost all of our requests in the search room and telephone reference are for Anne Arundel plats. At present, all condominium plats are fully described at the unit level in MSA S1489. Subdivision plats in MSA S1235 are undergoing a final editorial pass. Then the databases will be made available to patrons and staff, possibly in WordCruncher.

Dana Johnson has officially joined our staff as a contractual archival assistant. She first arrived at the Archives as a temporary employee in April when Leanda Phillips transferred to State and Local Records. Her duties include keeping the Plats of the Week program operating at a high level and assisting Dawn Steeley with project work.

With the assistance of both the Photolab and Conservation Lab, Geographic Services was able to deliver parts of large projects to place plats on aperture cards for both the Howard County and the Baltimore County circuit courts before the end of the fiscal year. Over the next few months, similar projects are likely to be started for both Dorchester and Harford counties.

Overall, Geographic Services processed almost 26,000 plats in fiscal year 1996, bringing the total number of plats processed in the various databases to about 106,000, including every subdivision and condominium plat filed in Maryland since January 1994. With our continuing focus on both retrospective projects and the current plats arriving every month, it will just be a matter of time until the goal of having every plat fully described is fulfilled.

by Frank Potter

I had occasion to try the 8870 rule recently to find a birth date. Following the formula to the letter gave a skewed result. The example in the previous Bulldog article (Vol. 10, No.10) was a valid one: 1889 05 06 - date of death
(71 07 09) - age at death
1817 97 97
( 88 70)
1817 09 27 - date of birth
But suppose the age at death had been 10 years, 1 month, 1 day.
1889 05 06 - date of death
(10 01 01) - age at death
1879 04 05
April 5, 1879 is the correct date of birth and any subtraction from it would produce an erroneous result.

Let's take another example: age at death of 27 days

1889 05 06 - date of death
( 27) - age at death
1889 04 79

Obviously there is no such date as April 79. The April 1889 parts are correct, and if 8870 were subtracted the birth date would be wrong. The key to the correct solution is to subtract only the 70.

1889 05 06 - date of death
( 27) - age at death
1889 04 79
( 70)
1889 04 09 - date of birth

If only the month exceeds the normal parameter of 12, then one would subtract only the 88 to obtain the actual date of birth After following the first step, the rule should be stated as follows:

If the month number exceeds 12, subtract 88.
If the day number exceeds 30, subtract 70.
If both month and day numbers exceed these parameters, subtract 8870.
If neither month nor day numbers exceed these parameters, no further substraction is needed.
It should be easy to remember the formula. 100 points - 88 = 12 months and 100 points - 70 = 30 days.

The rule is essentially one of reciprocals.

by Shashi Thapar

Baltimore County Genealogical Society, Tombstone Inscriptions of Govans Presbyterian Church Cemetery
Camper, Charles, Historical Record of the First Regiment Maryland Infantry, War of Rebellion, 1861-1865
Clement, Susan Rogers, Reynolds Family Association Centennial Collection
Commission on Preservation and Access, Preserving Digital Information, Report of the Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information
Davis, Christina A., Riverdale Story: Mansion to Municipality
DeLeonardis, Lisa, Phase II Archaeological Investigation of Cultural Resources Associated with Carroll-Caton House Courtyard, Baltimore, Maryland
Dreyfus, Jack, The Lion of Wall Street: The Two Lives of Jack J. Dreyfus
Genealogical Council of Maryland, Directory of Maryland Burial Grounds
Heise, David V., Somerset County, Maryland Orphans Court Proceedings, 1777-1792 and 1811-1823
Hooper, Debbie, Abstracts of Chancery Court Records of Maryland, 1669-1782
Hudson, Theodore, Highland Beach: The First 100 Years
King, Julia A. Hampton National Historic Site Research Needs Assessment Study
Marshalek, Jean Ray, The Donhauser and Allied Families
Merryweather, Melanie Ayres, Genealogy of the Ayres and Allied Families
Murray, William A., The Unheralded Heroes of Baltimore's Big Blazes: A Story about Baltimore Firefighters
Pittenger, Arthur F., Descendants of Abraham Pittenger
Rockstroh, Stephen W. D., Doubleday Families of America
St. Thomas Parish, St. Thomas Parish Marriages, Owings Mills, Maryland, 1738-1995
St. Thomas Parish, St. Thomas Parish Baptisms, Owings Mills, Maryland, 1732-1995
Seymour, Helen E., Register of Baptisms of Talbot Circuit, Easton District, Philadelphia Conference of Methodist Episcopal Church, 1842-1867
Siegrist, G. Frederick, George Michael and Catherine Broadwater and Ancestors, Allegany and Garrett Counties, Maryland
Sluby, Paul E., Sr., Records of the Columbian Harmony Cemetery, Washington, D.C., Vol. 5: 1906-1914
Stafford, Carolyn Joy, The Himes Family History
Sweet, Mary Lewellwyn Gwaltney, Story of Four Families: Sweet-Fitts, Gwaltney-Gallaher
U.S. Naval History Division, Naval Documents of the American Revolution, Vol. 10
Willard, Thomson, Baltimore, Chesapeake and Atlantic Railway Co. and Maryland, Delaware and Virginia Railway Co.
Zimmerman, Elaine Obbink, Interment Records, 1883-1929, Lorraine Park Cemetery and Mausoleum, Woodlawn, Maryland

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Copyright October 30, 1996 Maryland State Archives