Policies on access and use of the collections at Baltimore City Archives

Archival records and special collections are unique and require special handling and protection. You, the researcher, are a partner with the Archives in protecting and preserving these materials so that they remain intact and available to future researchers. Your compliance with these rules and regulations is appreciated.


  • Researchers arriving for the first time, and at any further time upon request by BCA staff, must present one official photographic ID (i.e. driver’s license, state identity card, passport, law enforcement ID, state or federal employment ID or other officially issued identification cards). A copy will be made and kept in the researcher's file on site.
  • The registration form must be completed before researchers are permitted access to the searchroom. Information provided on the registration form is subject to verification against the identification presented.
  • Personally identifying information shall be kept secure at the Archives and will not be provided to third parties, excepting officials acting under appropriate legal authority.
  • Submission of the registration form online or submission of the registration form in-person at the Baltimore City Archives constitutes acceptance of these regulations.
  • Note: daily registration requires all researchers and visitors to sign the daily register book, including name and arrival time.


  • All items brought into the searchroom are subject to inspection by the Archives’ staff.
  • Personal items which may be brought into the searchroom include note paper and research notes, #1 or #2 (soft) pencils, cell phones, laptop computers and tablets, and cameras. Other items may be approved on a case by case basis by BCA staff.
  • The following items are not allowed in the searchroom while records are being viewed:
  • • Food and beverages (including those in lidded cups, bottles and other non-spill containers)
    • Pens, markers, bound notebooks, folders, or Post-It/sticky notes
    • Coats and jackets, including sweaters or sweatshirts with pockets
    • Bags, including briefcases, purses, backpacks, fanny packs, or grocery/tote bags
    • Other items at the discretion of BCA staff.

  • Any disallowed items are to be stored in an on-site locker as directed by Archives’ staff. Personal belongings in lockers are stored at your own risk. Baltimore City Archives and its staff are not responsible for personal property lost or stolen at its facility.
  • Food and beverages are permitted to be stored in the lockers, but there is no location in the building where researchers are permitted to eat, so please plan accordingly.  There are several restaurants within walking or short driving distance from this facility, which BCA staff will be glad to direct you to.
  • All personal belongings being removed from the searchroom are subject to inspection by BCA personnel and/or security personnel.


  • No children under age 15 are allowed in the searchroom without permission of a reference archivist.
  • Searchroom computers are available for use by the public. These may be used for accessing digitized archival records. BCA staff will instruct researchers on computer use as appropriate.
  • When materials have been digitized, fragile originals will not be pulled for viewing. These and other rare books and manuscripts may only be viewed at the discretion of the City Archivist.
  • Researchers must initial pull slips for all records viewed. These will be provided by BCA staff.
  • All materials must be placed flat, securely on the searchroom table or in the foam book support if provided by staff. No materials may be placed on the floor, on top of or propped against other items, hanging over the edge of the table, nor held in the researcher’s lap. BCA staff may further direct researchers on handling of specific records.
  • One box, folder, and/or item may be viewed at one time.
  • Researchers must maintain records in the exact arrangement in which they are stored. Place markers will be provided by BCA staff. Any errors and inconsistencies in arrangement or descriptions should be reported to the searchroom staff; researchers must not attempt to re-arrange records themselves.
  • All materials must be handled with the greatest of care. If a researcher is uncertain of proper paper handling, they should request instruction. Paper — particularly newsprint and other acidic, fragile items — must be handled gently with two hands. These items should not be pulled or lifted from the edges, which may increase the risk of tear.
  • Materials must not be marked, altered, folded, traced, or handled in any way likely to result in damage.
  • Researchers’ hands must be clean to prevent soiling of records. Archivists may at their discretion require that researchers wear gloves when handling materials, especially photographs. Gloves are available upon request.
  • Additional records will not be retrieved, except under extraordinary circumstances, after 2:30 PM.


  • Researchers and staff must be respectful of each other when conducting personal and cell phone conversations. These conversations should be brief and quiet. Extensive conversation and phone calls should be conducted outside of the searchroom.
  • Researchers should not hesitate to request the assistance of staff members with moving heavy volumes or boxes.


  • Researchers may use their own digital cameras to photograph any records in the collection. Tripods and personal scanners may be used with the approval of the reference staff. Patrons may not stand on chairs or other furniture when performing photography.
  • If a higher quality image is needed, researchers may request digital scans of the records for a fee (see Fees and Charges and discuss details with BCA staff). No photocopies or printouts of records will be provided.
  • All images are for personal, non-commercial use unless permission has been granted.
  • It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint or reproduce images materials from the archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for conforming to the laws of libel and copyright.
  • One gratis copy of any publication resulting from extensive research, or including documents or images from the BCA is always appreciated.


  • The Archives retains and asserts any and all rights not enumerated in these rules and regulations, necessary to protect its holdings, which do not violate civil liberties, as defined and upheld by the courts of the State of Maryland and the United States.
  • In conformance with the Archivists’ Code of Ethics and the laws of the State of Maryland and of the United States, the facilities and services of the Baltimore City Archives are available to all registered researchers without regard to gender, race, ethnicity, skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin. Sign language interpreters and other appropriate accommodations for individuals with disabilities will be provided upon request provided 48 hours advance notice.
  • Researchers are only permitted in the searchroom and public restroom. Only authorized persons are permitted in other areas of the facility. Visitors to BCA must present photographic ID to staff upon request, sign in on the visitor log, and be escorted by a staff member or volunteer to and from their destination.
  • These rules and regulations are subject to change at the discretion of the Baltimore City Archives.

This web site is presented for reference purposes under the doctrine of fair use. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: The site may contain material from other sources which may be under copyright. Rights assessment, and full originating source citation, is the responsibility of the user.

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