Guide to the BCA for Genealogists

Photo of Baseball Team, Junior City Champions circa 1939 St. Elizabeth’s baseball team, Junior City Champions, Patterson Park, Baltimore, September 1939

Resources at the Baltimore City Archives:

Records Relating to a Person:

  • The best way to find an individual that is mentioned in the historical records of the Baltimore City Archives is by utilizing the WPA Historical Records Survey Name Index.  In the 1930’s, the Works Progress Administration, in the process of their Historical Records Survey Project, indexed every name mentioned in specific record groups of the Baltimore City Archives.  The cards produced from that index are available online in alphabetically segments. For guidance on how to use the Name Index, please view BCA volunteer and genealogist Malissa Ruffner’s excellent step-by-step blog post.  For an understanding of which records were indexed and included in the Name Index, see our page on WPA-HRS Indexing.
  • If you are looking for vital records (birth, death, marriage certificates), visit our page, Vital Records of Baltimore City.
  • To find out where an individual lived during a specific year, or the information about their business, search Baltimore City Directories.
  • Image of Cover of 1860 Census of Baltimore City Volume 2
  • Suspicious deaths in the mid-19th century required a coroner’s inquest, some of which made their way to the Baltimore City Archives (deaths in 1827, 1835-1860,1864, 1867). See our index arranged by surname: Suspicious Deaths in Mid-19th Century Baltimore. Coroner’s inquests are located in BRG19-1.
  • To find the locations and records of churches before 1900, visit our Church Records page.
  • For the 1860 Census, Wards 1-4 were indexed by Bill and Martha Reamy.  Volume 1 contains Wards 1 and 2- parts of today’s Harbor East, Fells Point, Butcher’s Hill, and Canton.  Volume 2 contains Wards 3 and 4- parts of today’s Little Italy, Washington Hill, and Jonestown.
  • The incomplete 1868 Police Census, Wards 3, 6. 8, 9. 13, and 20 contains name, street address, age, sex, race, country of birth, naturalized or registered, occupation, and religion.  Those wards were parts of today’s Washington Hill, Middle East, Greenmount East, Downtown, and Midtown.  These digitized reels are accessible from BRG11-9.
  • For burial records and locations, check our our Baltimore Cemeteries page.
  • Immigrants who arrived at the port of Baltimore between 1833-1866 were most likely placed on Passenger Lists by the vessel captains who were required to do so by law.  The Passenger List index has been digitized and is available online.

Records Relating to a Property:

Records Relating to an Event, Group, or Subject:

How to Schedule an Appointment:

If you find records in our collections that you wish to view, visit our Planning Your Visit page to view our hours, schedule an appointment, and read over our Searchroom policies.

Make sure that when you fill out the Research Appointment form you give a detailed description of what records you want to view by giving the Record Group, Series, HRS number, and the year if the item was from one of the WPA-HRS indexes, or as much detail as you can give from the Record Group, Series, Sub-series, and Box number if the item is not from the WPA-HRS indexes.

Other Resources:


Online Resources:

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