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The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland -- Part 2: The Records
Volume 546, Preface 9   View pdf image (33K)
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FOREWORD

It was the original intention of the writer to compile a list of the county records of
Maryland. For obvious reasons it became necessary to account for the counties which created
the records, the courthouses in which they were housed, the peregrinations and acts of God
which destroyed them. In time this introductory material became so bulky that it was pub-
lished separately as The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland, Part One: The Court-
houses (Annapolis, 1960). But the first purpose of the project was not forgotten; and here
at last is the list.

At the beginning it was to be a complete list modeled after the County Record Inven-
tories of the Historical Records Survey. Eight such Inventories were published in Maryland,
and although it is now twenty years since the last one appeared, they are still useful; and
had all 23 counties and Baltimore City been done, this new list would not really have been
necessary, at least not to historians who are for the most part little interested in the records
after 1940. At one moment we thought of reissuing the eight published volumes and pre-
paring from the notes we had inherited from the WPA the additional 16 volumes as of 1936-
1942. However these notes varied so much in quality and quantity that we had to abandon
any idea of using them except as a check on our own work.

What we have done here then is to do the listing anew but using when we could the
published volumes of the Historical Records Survey, the unedited notes of the same agency
along with the many articles of Louis Dow Scisco and other archivists and historians. But we
have made some changes in scope. The HRS was all inclusive: records of county courts,
magistrates' courts, boards of education, volunteer fire associations were all treated equally
well. Had we wished it we could not have done this kind of inventory again. The cost was
prohibitive then and would be monstrous now. Nor did we wish it. The HRS, since it was
pioneering could not be certain in advance what purpose its work would serve. It felt con-
strained, therefore, to provide for every possibility. We know now that historians were the
chief benefactors.

Our work has put the needs of the historian first. We have eliminated certain records
which we have learned in the intervening twenty years have little or no interest for him.
This is a choice which ideally the archivist should not make but which practically he must.

It should be pointed out too that while the HRS listed only those records found in the
counties in situ, we have attempted to list the county records wherever they may be and in
whatever form. We have also noted where usable copies are available. For example, the land
records of Dorchester County begin with the first year of the County, 1669. From that year
through 1875 the original record volumes are at the Hall of Records. From 1875 through
1949 microfilm copies of the original are at the Hall of Records. The Land Office has micro-
film copies from 1949 to the present. In the Dorchester County Courthouse from the begin-
ning through 1788 there are photostatic copies; from 1789 to 1875 there are microfilm copies;
from 1875 to the present the courthouse records are originals. Finally, the Utah Genealogical
Society has microfilm copies from the beginning through 1850. While this enumeration is
complicated we feel that it is important enough to the researcher to be justified.

The listing of the records is principally the work of Phebe Jacobsen and Gust Skordas

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The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland -- Part 2: The Records
Volume 546, Preface 9   View pdf image (33K)
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