Maryland State Archives

Ogilby map

Transition Document
November 22, 2002

Edward C. Papenfuse, State Archivist
Timothy D. Baker,  Deputy State Archivist



Maryland State Archives

Transition Briefing

Agency Description

The State Archives is the central depository for Maryland government records and certain designated private records of permanent value. Holdings date from 1634 to the present. They include colonial and State executive, legislative and judicial records; county probate, land and court records; municipal records; and publications and reports of State, county and municipal government. Special collections include records of religious bodies (particularly as they relate to the recording of births, deaths, and marriages), business and organizational records, maps, newspapers, photographs, fine and decorative arts, and private papers, including oral histories.

Our central mission is to appraise, acquire, describe, preserve and make electronically available the permanent records of the past, while providing reliable current information about Maryland State, county and municipal government. Materials are made accessible through a secure and (where appropriate) web-enabled environment, continually compiled and updated for the benefit and use of Maryland residents and public officials.

Key Goals

Goals for the State Archives focus on the core requirements of the agency to:
q Serve as custodian of the State’s permanent records and collections in all formats, including electronic

q Describe and make accessible information about government

q Add value to the understanding of the importance and usefulness of the archival record through on-line explanations and assisted research by archival professionals

The Archives’ short-term plan stresses the fundamental infrastructure necessary for success. Requirements include physical infrastructure (storage for permanent records) and information technology infrastructure.The physical infrastructure requirements include additional warehouse space and shelving for paper records as well as climate-controlled storage for State-owned fine arts pieces not currently on display.The IT infrastructure must provide:

q Archival storage for security backup of electronic and paper records critical to State Government and the public’s well being

q Archival storage for security backup in the ongoing process of converting vital paper records to archival quality electronic records

q Efficient and cost-effective delivery of records, including the development of platform and proprietary software independent (generic) systems of access and delivery (e.g., see

q Intellectual access to records in the form of finding aids, useful interpretive essays on the nature, character, and importance of the records, and user-friendly search engines

The short-term plan also calls for the Archives to promote the understanding of the archival record by engaging in research paid for by grants from the federal government and other sources.


Budget Highlights

FY 2002
FY 2003
FY 2004
Number of Authorized Positions
Number of FTE Contractual Positions
General Fund Expenditures
Special Fund Expenditures


Getting Back to Basics by Providing Core Government Services

One of the most basic services that the Archives provides to the government and the public is retrieval of records critical to an individual’s personal life or to governmental operations.Whether it is finding a vital record that proves a Senior is entitled to a service, a researched criminal docket for a background check, or a necessary legal document retrieved from storage, the Archives performs this very basic and necessary function with little fanfare and often even less recognition.More attention needs to be paid to some of the core requirements that will help to make these functions more efficient and cost effective.Requirements include:

q Information Technology Infrastructure. Needed to maintain and continue to provide search and retrieval capabilities available through the Archives website at

q Index Database Access.Needed to aid the record search and retrieval process.For example, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Vital Records Division has not provided full access to their index databases that would assist in locating files in Archives’ custody and significantly reduce the cost of service to citizens. Similarly, the Archives needs the best, computerized indices to court documents used in background checks and to assist individual patrons with records in our custody.

q Electronic and Paper Records Appraisal.The State needs to revive the appraisal function of its Records Management program currently with Department of General Services, placing this function exclusively with the State Archives. The Archives needs the authority and resources to ensure that the quantity of records physically maintained at agencies is significantly reduced, without endangering critical record services to the public and to government.

q Proper Storage of Electronic and Paper Records.Physical storage capacity and necessary shelving needs to be addressed.By providing sufficient, secure and relatively inexpensive warehouse space and shelving, the critical permanent paper records of downsized state agencies can be stored and retrieved as needed in the most economical and cost effective manner.By providing an archival electronic infrastructure at the Archives, the most critical records necessary to a well-functioning government can be permanently preserved and readily accessed in a secure environment.

q Adequate Reference and Research Staff.In the last two years, budget reductions and constraints have reduced reference service staff from a necessary operational level of twenty-three full time equivalents to the present staff of thirteen.Staff reductions and additional constraints have also forced the closing of the search room to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays.The research staff at the Archives is almost exclusively funded out of grants and special fund income.Yet, it is the research staff that adds value to our understanding of the records, making them both useful and accessible.

q Preservation and DisasterRecovery Assistance.Greater attention needs to be paid to the question of how we safeguard critical records in the event of disaster including what steps to take to repair and restore critical records. This is a state-wide responsibility as the recent MSA appraisal of the mold problem of the State Law Library documents.

Information is the driver of our economy. It is also fundamental to our democracy.The Archives serves as the “collective memory” for Maryland and provides important informational tools for our residents and those who serve them. Some examples include:

Maryland Electronic Capital is a nationally recognized web-based portal that provides over 5000 links to Maryland agencies and services.  
Maryland Manual On-Line is the comprehensive source on the functions, context, and key personnel of Maryland State, county and municipal government.  
Archives of Maryland Online provides access to thousands of vital historical documents that form the constitutional, legal, legislative, judicial and administrative basis of Maryland's government. Online access to this information at the Archives' website enables users to research quickly and easily such topics as Maryland's constitutions and proceedings of its constitutional conventions, session laws, General Assembly proceedings, Governors' papers, and military records. is as an excellent example of the State Archives providing an important public service while also fulfilling its mission of preserving and protecting permanent records. The Archives partnered with the Judiciary in this project to scan and place online oversized (larger than 8½ by 14”) court records including all Maryland subdivision and condominium plats. Expensive to store, these oversize paper records deteriorate over time from repeated use. Yet, they are vital to land recordation. serves as a model for providing cost effective access to useful information. Following the same model, the Archives implemented Chapter 450, Acts of the 2002 General Assembly by bringing online all State Highway Administration right-of-way plats in This is the first example in Maryland of a legally mandated, electronic filing system in which the electronic record is the primary legal document.  
Maryland State Archives’ website serves as a clearinghouse and gateway to not only the most important historical records of the State, but also to a broad range of online, classroom-ready materials for teachers; a comprehensive guide to State-owned artwork; the most comprehensive locational and preservation guide to newspapers; and information critical to the understanding of the origins of land titles in Maryland.  

Budget Issues

Nearly half of the Archives’ budget consists of special fund money generated through services and fees charged -- a dramatic change from a decade ago when the Archives was supported almost entirely by general funds.For Fiscal Year 2004, Archives’ special fund revenue is dependent upon the implementation of our eGovernment initiative - - a proposed joint eGovernment service of the Judiciary and the Maryland State Archives.

Support for this initiative will provide a popular government service to the land title community and the public at a significant cost savings.By maintaining the current special fund level of support, The Archives will also be able to keep open the public search room. It should be pointed out that in the matter of resources for research, the Archives has sought and secured significant grants from foundations and federal sources to relieve the pressure on the General Fund.These are shown as a significant component of our Special Fund income projections for FY 2004.

q IT Infrastructure: For Fiscal Year 2003, the Archives’ budget for information technology was eliminated.The Fiscal Year 2004 budget mark offered no relief.Without IT support (for which there is no funding in the FY 2004 budget) the Archives cannot sustain its current level of service, nor continue to provide innovative approaches to eGovernment services.This includes the inability to safely and securely store critical electronic records of State government.

q Space: Funding is needed for additional warehouse space and shelving in order to accommodate the transfer of critical records from prime office space to a much less expensive Archival retrieval environment.In addition, climate controlled storage needs to be secured for the pieces of the State-owned fine art collection not currently on display.

q Reference Services: Resources are necessary to reopen the public search room an additional day each week and to overcome a significant backlog in public requests for information.This can be accomplished with Special Funds if the Archives’ eGovernment initiatives are funded and authority to spend the special funds extends to the hiring of personnel and the purchase of equipment to implement the initiatives.

q Access to Agency Index & Electronic Data: Inadequate access to existing agency databases often prevents the delivery of fast and efficient reference services. To cite a single example, public demand for access to birth and death records in Archives’ custody comprises the largest component of reference demand. But the electronic indices that would enable Archives’ staff to provide more speedy and efficient access to these materials are retained by DHMH, which has neither deposited this data in the Archives, nor shared the electronic version with the Archives.Greater cooperation is required among State agencies in sharing electronic information and ensuring that it is securely stored in the State’s Electronic Archives at the Maryland State Archives, if only for security and disaster recovery purposes.

q Research and Educational Outreach Resources: The Archives performs necessary research that is almost entirely supported from grants and special fund income.An example of this is the recent investigation into the patenting of allegedly vacant land, a patent signed by the Governor on November 20, 2002.There are many other important research activities for which funds will need to be identified.One example involves criminal background check research and document delivery related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (FBI/NICS). The Archives is currently performing work on close to 20% of all requests from the federal government.Current funding for Archives runs out for background checks on July 1, 2003.



1. Areas where the State Archives can be most helpful to the Transition Team

2. Suggestions for Governmental Efficiencies

General Funds should be used strategically at the Archives for core professional / management staff and key information technology infrastructure in order to leverage special funds to support vital governmental services.In addition, governmental consolidation and efficiencies should be considered including:

For more information on the Archives budget, please call 410-260-6401 for a copy of the
Archives' Fiscal Year 2004 budget submission and the agency Managing For Results document.

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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