The Archivist's Bulldog

Vol. 11 No. 10, Newsletter of the Maryland State Archives, May 27, 1997

by Robert Barnes
This is the first in a planned series of articles that will discuss in detail the development of the county seals in Maryland.

Shields and helmets, coronets and pennants: all may seem out of place in 20th Century Maryland, but many of these items may still be found in the seals of Maryland's counties and Baltimore City. Seals are still used to make a document official, and at one time the government of colonial Maryland came to a virtual standstill because the Great Seal of the Province had been lost. (John Murphey, "Making It Official ... State and County Seals Still Do It," Maryland, Summer 1982, p, 35).

The seals used by Maryland's counties today may be divided into two broad categories: heraldic and pictorial. The pictorial seals generally contain naturalistic representations of the flora and fauna of the county. Cecil County shows mallards in flight over cattails. Carroll County's seal contains a covered wagon pulled a team of horses. Garrett County's seal combines a snow flake, leaves and conifer boughs, and a sailboat on a mountain lake.

Heraldic seals display straight and curved lines, crosses and stylized animals, that follow strict rules as to the number, position, and coloring of the charges on the shield. Of the heraldic seals used by Maryland counties, some (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Caroline, Charles, Queen Anne's, St. Mary's, and Worcester) reflect some version of the Calvert family arms. Other county seals (Kent, Prince George's, and Somerset) have appropriated some version of the arms of Great Britain. A few use other arms. Harford and Dorchester counties developed their own original arms, while Montgomery and Talbot used arms attributed to their namesakes.

The present Anne Arundel County seal shows a variation on the Calvert and Crossland arms. This variation is in keeping with the heraldic philosophy that no two individuals [or institutions} should bear exactly the same arms. In its history of almost 350 years, the county has had at least four different seals.

In 1803, a seal for the Anne Arundel County Court was attached to a bond signed by Joseph McCeney, and attested as to its authenticity by Nicholas Harwood. Harwood attached a seal (with a paper covering) to the document. The device appears to be divided per pale (horizontally down the middle). On the dexter half (the observer's left) is what appears to be a garb of wheat. The sinister (observer's right) is unclear. (Maryland State Papers, Scharf Collection, MSA S1005, MdHR 19999/111/30).

Edward Stabler (1794-1883) of Alexandria, VA, was designing seals from ca. 1830 to ca. 1850, including several for Maryland counties. The seal he designed for Anne Arundel County is a circular one showing a plow and a sheaf of wheat in the foreground. The ground gradually rises to a mountaintop from which a sun is rising, with rays filling much of the top of the seal. At the very top of the circular area is a bank of clouds with a hand emerging from the clouds. The hand is holding a scale or balance. At the bottom of the seal are the words "E. Stabler, Sc." Surrounding the shield is a circular band inscribed "Anne Arundel County Court, Maryland." This seal is shown impressed on a document dated 1853.

In April 1950, Thomas Christian prepared a report on the Anne Arundel County seal. The drawing by Earl Duckwall that accompanied the report showed the traditional Calvert arms of six horizontal stripes, alternately gold and black, with a diagonal stripe of opposite colors (In heraldic terminology: Paly of six, Or and Sable, a bend counterchanged) quartering the Crossland arms of four quarters, silver and red, on which was superimposed a cross of opposite colors, with the arms of the cross ending in little buttons (In heraldic terminology Quarterly Argent and Gules, a cross bottony counterchanged). The "buttons" on the crosses bottony were drawn rather large, and filled much of the space. There was no motto, but under the shield were two brackets, each with a rose and a thorn.

The shield was ensigned by a baron's coronet without the plush cap that lines coronets of rank. The band is richly chased, and four balls are shown (a baron's coronet has six, but two are hidden). However, suspended in space above the four balls was a fifth ball. It is possible that this might have been mistaken for the tassel that usually sits atop the plush cap. On one side of the shield were the words "Ann Arundell" and on the other side was the word "County." The whole achievement was set in an oval border.

A county seal was adopted in 1968. Article 1-104 of the County Code stated that the seal of the county was to be as shown on page 4 of the report of Thomas S. Christian dated 11 April 1950, except that surrounding the heraldry, should be the words "Anne Arundel County, Maryland." When the seal was reproduced in color the standard gold and black of the Calvert arms, and the standard red and silver of the Crossland Arms were to be used. The roses in the brackets under the shield were to be red, and the circle [coronet] at the top of the shield and the brackets and thorn beneath the shield were to be gold. The background color was to be optional. (Anne Arundel County Code: General Ordinances of the County. Tallahassee: Municipal Code Corporation, 1985).

When the seal is currently displayed (1997), an example of heraldic differencing has taken place. The brackets under the seal still carry the rose and the thorn, and the colors are the same (Gold and black and silver and red.) However, the cross in the Crossland arms has become a cross floretty (its four arms ending in fleurs-de-lis). Just as younger sons sometimes made a slight difference in their paternal arms, so the Anne Arundel County seal depicts a slightly differenced version of the Calvert arms. One other change seems to have been made in the coronet. The fifth ball no longer floats in the air, but is supported by a slender spike with concave sides. The seal is depicted on a circular surface.

In 1694 the county was assigned the color white (Argent) for its standard (For the act authorizing county colors, see "An Act of Francis Nicholson" dated 9 October 1694, in the Archives of Maryland, Vol. XX, p. 154). The County Code of 1968 establishes the official flag of the county as one containing the seal of the county on a white background, trimmed with a gold fringe. It also sets the official colors of the county as the gold of the Calvert Arms and the red of the Crossland Arms. (Anne Arundel County Code, Article 1-105).


Welcome to John Johnson has joined as an Archival Assistant and to Conservation Assistant, Laura Triest. On April 30, we said goodbye to Elaine Rice who left to get married and move to Wilmington, Delaware. Her replacement as Curator of Artistic Property, Carol Borchert, joins us today.

by Arian Ravanbakhsh, Ellen Allers, and Emily Murphy

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) recently held its Spring meeting deep in the heart of Thomas Jefferson (or as the locals refer to him, Mr. Jefferson) country in Charlottesville, Virginia. Attendees arriving early were given the opportunity to tour Monticello. On this May day, the tour was very good, partly because the weather on "the Mountaintop" could not have been any more spectacular. The Jefferson Foundation has developed an International Center for Jefferson Studies, located at the nearby estate of Kenwood. Their research library operates out of Kenwood, where they handle reference inquiries. Some of the most frequently asked questions concern meals at Monticello. Also, they get many politicians from all sides of the political spectrum asking for quotations by Jefferson on all kinds of issues.

The plenary address was given by Dr. Edward Ayers, Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He demonstrated the electronic "Valley of the Shadow" project. The project compared records from a county in Pennsylvania with one in Virginia to show how communities at either end of the Shenandoah Valley were affected by the Civil War. The project's website is very well organized and shows the results of a great deal of effort. After a quick survey of the work in progress, Dr. Ayers focused on the "perils and promise of digital history." In his opinion, the Web is not "democratic" enough to reach a broad audience. Thus, he is refocusing his efforts on the delivery of information by interactive CD-ROM with an accompanying book.

One session was entitled, "The World Wide Web and Intellectual Property Rights." This complicated issue was not made any simpler by the speakers. Eric J. Schwartz, an intellectual property attorney, and Edward Gaynor, Special Collections, University of Virginia, discussed the problems faced by individuals and institutions who are trying to balance the desire for increased access while trying to control proper use. Right now, there is an absence of case law concerning the Internet and its impact on copyright protection. Courts have yet to come down clearly on any side of this issue. Some progress is being made by the GATT signatories who have been negotiating international agreements on copyright protection as it applies over the Internet.

Other sessions dealt with access to records and preservation issues. Speakers from religious and museum archives discussed the handling of restrictions on collections. Judging from the speakers and the questions asked later, many places are experiencing difficulty with restrictions, because they either have everything open or use time related restrictions, instead of working on a collection by collection basis. The session on microfilm and digitalization as preservation measures ended up being mainly "look at all the cool things I can do with my expensive machines." The upshot of the session was that you can do a lot of really nifty things with digitalization, such as cleaning up images, if you are well funded. But even the Library of Congress uses microfilm as a backup.

"Look Before You Leap: Reformatting Photographs Digitally" explored the pros and cons of digitizing collections. Steve Puglia, NARA, and Barbara Johnson, Frederick County Historical Society, gave ample food for thought. They discussed the practical aspects of digitizing - training, preparation, hardware, software, storage, choosing vendors - as well as issues relating to the final product -preservation, accessibility, exhibition, outreach. Puglia stressed that institutions should explore digitalization, but proceed with caution. Using statistics from the EPA, Dept. of Defense, and Carnegie-Mellon University, he pointed out that over a 10 year period it will cost 5 to 6 times more to preserve a digital image than it did for the initial scanning, and 15 to 16 times more than to maintain a paper document. The high costs stem from the need to move files every 3-5 years to a new system as software and hardware changes.

The digitalization theme was graphically illustrated by tours of the University of Virginia's Digital Centers which are housed in several libraries around the campus to effectively create and display digital data. The tour covered three specific sites - Digital Music Center, Digital Image Center, and Electronic Text Center. All were impressive, with a wide variety of scanners and computer equipment and technology. The Digital Music Center is devoted to providing hardware, software, and technical training and assistance to develop multi-media projects and computer-based presentations. The Digital Image Center develops teaching and testing aids for art history and architecture.

The Electronic Text Center offers training and technical support for the humanities. It has a number of general reference resources available to the entire university community through the web - The OED, The Old English Corpus, selected poetry and verse - as well as scanned image files of Mark Twain novels and manuscripts. Surprisingly, the appearance of full texts available on the web has not stanched the demand for conventional books. In fact, demand has increased. The access, portability, low cost, and ease on the eye offered by conventional books have not been beaten by the web.

Another tour encompassed the Book Arts Press, a program at UVA designed to teach people to identify bindings, paper, typefaces, and illustrations by using original examples. Students can actually see how a 17th Century leather binding was put together, and how it might differ from a kid or paper binding of the same period. The facility has several printing presses, ranging from an 18th century hand press to a 20th century linotype press. The students learn how to print using these methods to gain a better understanding of book printing and binding processes since the invention of movable type.

A session on outreach was presented by Tom Frusciano of Rutgers and Diana Shenk from Penn State. Frusciano spoke about an ongoing oral history project concerning World War II, which is being done with the support of the alumni association, and the participation of graduate and undergraduate students as interviewers and transcribers. Shenk related her experiences of convincing various labor unions and businesses to support and use the labor related collections in university library. Overall the conference was well attended and included some very interesting programs and discussions. As usual there were certainly a large number of former MSA staff and interns in attendance.

by Kevin Swanson

DISTRICT COURT (Tapes) 1993 [MSA T230]
DISTRICT COURT 1, BC (Domestic Violence Docket) 1984 [MSA T2821]
DISTRICT COURT 10, CR (Civil Docket) 1982 [MSA T1744]
DISTRICT COURT 10, HO (Civil Docket) 1982 [MSA T1024]
DISTRICT COURT 11, FR (Natural Resources Docket) 1992 [MSA T2816]
DISTRICT COURT 11, WA (Criminal Docket) 1993 [MSA [MSA T1087]
DISTRICT COURT 11, WA (Civil Docket) 1993 [MSA T1088]
DISTRICT COURT 11, WA (Natural Resources Docket) 1993 [MSA T2820]
DISTRICT COURT 12, AL (Civil Docket) 1989-1991 [MSA T1089]
DISTRICT COURT 12, AL (Criminal Docket) 1991 [MSA T1090]
DISTRICT COURT 3, CE (Civil Docket) 1992 [MSA T1413]
DISTRICT COURT 3, KE (Criminal Docket) 1992 [MSA T1076]
DISTRICT COURT 3, KE (Civil Docket) 1992 [MSA T1743]
DISTRICT COURT 3, KE (Natural Resources Docket) 1992 [MSA T2817]
DISTRICT COURT 3, QA (Civil Docket) 1991 [MSA T2444]
DISTRICT COURT 3, QA (Criminal Docket) 1991 [MSA T2448]
DISTRICT COURT 4, CH (Natural Resources Docket) 1990-1991 [MSA T2819]
DISTRICT COURT 5, PG (Natural Resources Docket) 1991 [MSA T2818]
GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SENATE (Journal and Roll Calls) 1997 [MSA T294]
SECRETARY OF STATE (Charitable Fund Raiser File) 1988-1992 [MSA T2655]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Fiduciary Reports, Trust Clerk) 1890-1991 [MSA T2666]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Fiduciary Reports, Trust Clerk, Index) 1874-1993 [MSA T2667]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Docket, Trust Clerk) 1878-1993 [MSA T2814]
BALTIMORE CITY COURT (Habeas Corpus Docket) 1981-1983 [MSA T550]
BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Military Discharges, Index) n.d. [MSA T2815]
HARFORD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Equity Papers) 1803-1946 [MSA T2417]

Founded 1987

Edward C. Papenfuse, State Archivist
Patricia V. Melville, Editor
Mimi Calver, Assistant Editor
Lynne MacAdam,Production Editor
Rita Molter, Circulation

The Maryland State Archives is an independent agency in the Office of Governor Parris N. Glendening and is advised by the Hall of Records Commission. The Chairman of the Hall of Records Commission is the Honorable Louis L. Goldstein, Comptroller, and the Vice Chairman is the Honorable Robert M. Bell, Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals.

The Archivists' Bulldog is issued bi-monthly to publicize records collections, finding aids, and other activities of the Archives and its staff. Subscription cost is $25 per year, and the proceeds go to the State Archives Fund. To subscribe, please send your name, address, and remittance to: the Maryland State Archives, 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1686. Phone: MD toll free: (800) 235 4045; or (410) 260-6400. FAX: (410) 974 3895. E-mail: The Editor welcomes editorial comments and contributions from the public.

The Archives maintains a Website on the Internet at: