Hall of Records Commission

of a Meeting 
at the Maryland State Archives
Electronic Classroom
12 Noon
April 19, 2000

Call to Order by the Chairman
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Bell at 12:18 p.m.
Attendees & Introduction of Special Guests
Chairman Bell welcomed and introduced the members of the Archives of Maryland Advisory Board and thanked them for serving.
George Callcott
Agnes Callum     (The Chairman welcomed Ms. Callum who arrived at the meeting at 12:33 p.m.)
Lois Carr
Suzanne Chapelle
Rhoda Dorsey
Charles Flanagan
Whit Ridgway
Dr. Papenfuse introduced members of Archives' staff:  Ray Connor, Chris Allan, Kathy Beard, Mimi Calver, Karen Dunaway, Roger Kizer Ball, Greg Lepore, Lynne MacAdam, Maura McCarthy, Pat Melville, Emily Squires, Hillary Thomas. He also introduced Jean Russo who will be working on the Archives of Maryland Advisory project.  Jean does staff work for the Archives when she has time, as well as works as a volunteer.

Dr. Papenfuse told the Commission the sad news that two long time employees of the Archives, since retired, had died: Gust Skordas last Friday and Phebe Jacobsen this morning.  Phebe worked for the Archives for 30 years and was responsible for helping Alex Haley find his roots.  Phebe and Alex remained good friends over the course of his life, and she was instrumental in seeing to it that the memorial downtown was created.  Phebe understood records and published a book with Gust Skordas and Dr. Radoff on county records  She did her own book on the Quaker records but, most of all, she was the consummate reference archivist.  She understood people and how to deal with reference issues.

Dr. Papenfuse said that everywhere you go in this Archives, you will see evidence of Gust Skordas. He started with the WPA in the 1930s,  inventorying court records and state agency records.  He was the heart and soul of the Archives until he retired in 1973 and Dr. Papenfuse was privileged to be his successor.  When Dr. Radoff retired, the former director of General Services, George Lewis, called Dr. Papenfuse and asked him to offer Gust the position of Archivist of Maryland.  When Dr. Papenfuse called him in San Diego and offered him the position, Gust laughed and said "I've done my service, Ed.  It is your turn now.  Tell George Lewis that I appreciate the offer, but I am retired and I am enjoying it."  From 1973 on, he not only enjoyed his retirement, but was always there for suggestions and advice, returning to Annapolis several times to follow the progress on the new building and to visit old friends.

There was a brief moment of silence before moving on to the first item on the agenda.

Reports and Minutes of Previous Meetings

Records Retention and Disposal Schedules

Old Business

Archivist's Report & Staff Activities 
     (see the Maryland State Archives Bulldog for additional details)

Recent Acquisitions

Finding Aids, Reference Services, and Publications

Special Presentation

  • launching the Electronic Archives of Maryland series and volumes in progress
  • One of the most important things Dr. Papenfuse has had the opportunity to do as a scholar and archivist has been bringing archival material that has had value added to it (good transcripts or interpretations that help people understand, as well as use, the records) to the web.  The apex of an archival activity is to edit and present the best of what constitutes the records of the State.  The Archives has launched the electronic Archives of Maryland series with the help of a grant from the Information Technology Fund.  First, all 72 published volumes of the Archives of Maryland was brought on-line and are searchable and accessible.  Then, we have added to it by putting on-line Volumes 73 through 108.  This includes one of the most important books ever published relating to the land systems in Maryland, Kilty's Land-holder's Assistant and Land-Office Guide.  This rare, hard-to-find book is now on-line and searchable. Eventually all of these laws will be brought on-line so they are completely searchable.  In the meantime, we are also going to have film available with images of the book in which the laws appear, as well as other sites that have the laws available.  We hope to have one of the finest depositories of legal information relating to the State of Maryland on the Archives web site.  The Governor approved and provided general funds in the current budget.  It is now a line item in our budget, and we hope that in future years it will be a fully-funded project for bringing a wide range of  materials on-line and accessible.  We are also looking for grants to help support this project.
  • Prince George's County Slave Freedom Records (MSA Index 38)
  • Dr. Papenfuse received a request from Senator Mike Miller's office for information concerning records the Archives has on slaves, slavery, and freedom prior to the Civil War.  It is very difficult to trace slave families.  It can be done, but requires a wide range of resources and one of the most important ones in Maryland are slave statistics that were taken by each of the counties and recorded in the county courts, because slave owners thought they were going to be reimbursed for their slaves.  This summer, one of our interns is going to bring Louise Joiner Hienton's (a volunteer at the Archives who created an index of freedom records for Prince George's County) index on-line. We are then going to link off of that index to the records themselves which have been enhanced so they can be read.  Dr. Papenfuse demonstrated a sample.  The Archives does not have sufficient funds to do this for all the counties, but we hope that the new commission on slavery will help find the resources.

    Dr. Papenfuse advised the Commission that there is a new commission that has been created relating to slavery in Maryland.  The Archives is expected to partially staff this commission, and Dr. Papenfuse accordingly has submitted a budget request.

    Senator Miller said that his interest was peaked by the initial report from the commission on slavery.  Senator Miller thanked Dr. Papenfuse for moving forward on this project and said it would be great if the Archives could move forward for all counties.

    Education and Outreach

    Administrative & Fiscal Matters

    Forthcoming special meetings of the Commission & events of interest

    Presentations to Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse on the occasion of his 25 years as Maryland State Archivist

    Dr. Papenfuse said that it has been an extraordinary pleasure to serve as the State Archivist for the last 25 years, trying to make our collective memory as accessible and relevant as possible.  He presented the Commission members with a one of the Maryland Commemorative Quarters and a message of thanks that read as follows:  "Thank you for helping make my silver anniversary and years as State Archivist so enjoyable."

    Next meeting

    The next Hall of Records Commission meeting will be at the call of the Chair sometime in late summer, early fall.


    On a motion by Dr. Phillips, seconded by Dr. Ridgway, the meeting adjourned at 1:12 p.m., the Chairman concurring.

    Approved by the Hall of Records Commission, October 31, 2000

                                The Honorable Robert M. Bell, Chairman

                                Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse, Jr., Secretary

    Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse
    State Archivist

    Maryland State Archives

    350 Rowe Boulevard
    Annapolis, Maryland 21401

    Email: If you have an Email account linked to your WEB browser, click here to activate your mail program to send an inquiry or message to me at archives@mdarchives.state.md.us or contact me at (410) 260-6403.

    © Copyright 1999 Maryland State Archives