[color photograph, Search Room at State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland] Special Collections supervises the care, preservation, accessioning, and description of non-governmental records. These records usually are received as gifts or deposits from private donors and generally consist of personal letters, diaries, photographs, maps, and other manuscript documents.

Search Room, State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland, December 1999. Photo by Hillary Thomas.

In conjunction with the State Archivist, the Director of Special Collections reviews offers of materials as gifts to Special Collections. (Gifts of fine arts are reviewed by the Curator of Artistic Property and the State Archivist.) Materials are accepted based upon their relevance to the holdings of the Archives, their condition, and the ability of the Archives to provide proper storage and care of the collection.

While collections generally are offered as gifts to the Archives, occasionally materials are accepted on deposit. The decision to accept a collection of original materials as a deposit is made by the Director (or Registrar) of Special Collections, in conjunction with the State Archivist, based upon the relevance of the collection to the holdings of the Archives, its condition, and the historical value of the collection. A collection may be placed on deposit if its contents are to be photographed or microfilmed as a reference collection at the Archives and the original materials returned to the owner.

Exhibits During the past calendar year, the department has mounted three new web exhibitions. Two of these are electronic versions of permanent exhibits in the Annapolis government complex. They include Maryland In Focus in the Lowe House Office Building, and Charting the Chesapeake, at the State Archives. The third is Baltimore Benevolence: A Record of Nineteenth-Century Philanthropy & Humane Giving, a presentation derived from a Clifton Mansion exhibition in Baltimore on display from September 10, 2000 to August 13, 2002.

Under the auspices of the Maryland Commission for Celebration 2000, the State Archives in 2000 received a grant of $50,000 from Save Maryland's Treasures to initiate an on-line electronic archives of over 200,000 images (derived from the S. J. Martenet & Company Collection). This long-term project will document land surveys and ownership in Baltimore City and Baltimore County since the mid-nineteenth century. Project specifications required intellectual control of these records through the Archives' existing database collections management system. Original materials were flattened and rehoused in an archival acid-neutral environment; flat files and related oversize plats scanned; and public access made available in the Archives' research room and via scanned images on the web. In addition to providing office space for the scanning operation, S. J. Martenet & Company also gave in-kind support by creating over 68,000 catalog entries of materials in the Collection. By May 2001, approximately:

In addition, a dynamic website integrating SQL Server 7 database and Cold Fusion was created.

Preservation Initiatives, Special Collections' staff have been actively involved in several additional preservation initiatives. To preserve and make accessible scrapbooks relating to the career of jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd, they have worked with the staff of the Peabody Institute Library. With the Sisters of the Carmelite Convent, staff created digital images of materials relating to the Carmel of Hoogstraet, Belgium (MSA SC 5366). Moreover, the Ridout Papers (MSA SC 910), a collection of materials of a prominent Annapolis family, have been rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes and cataloged to archival standards, thanks to the efforts of volunteers working in conjunction with Special Collections' staff.

Technical Support. Special Collections also has provided considerable technical support to other projects. Staff created a dynamic website for the project, as well as a research website relating to the Potomac River case for the Attorney General's Office, and an in-house research website, ECPCLIO used by Archives' staff to coordinate and track special projects. In addition, the department has updated existing electronic catalogs, including the Guide to Special Collections and the Guide to Maryland Newspapers. To date, nearly all collection inventories (representing 135,222 accessioned series units) are accessible on-line to researchers. During this fiscal year, the number of accessioned series units more than doubled due to the work completed in the initial phase of the S. J. Martenet & Company Collection. Electronic datafiles and images maintained through the electronic archives directory structure of Special Collections encompasses 68.2 gb of data, significantly increasing public access to these collections through the Archives' website and in the public search room.


Since 1979, the State Archives has cooperated with concerned individuals, historical agencies, libraries, and newspaper publishers in a project that has microfilmed and scanned nearly 300 Maryland newspapers representing over two million pages. An equivalent number of deteriorating pages remain to be preserved, including pages poorly filmed (by sources other than the Archives), and pages adequately filmed for text content, but in need of scanning to recover images unclear on high-contrast copy film.

During FY2001, the State Archives arranged for the acquisition of 40 years of the Enquirer Gazette, a Prince George's County newspaper. In good condition, the original newspapers were donated to the Archives by the editor of the Enquirer Gazette. For FY2002, the Project Director hopes to have them arranged, accessioned, and catalogued, adding them to our growing newspaper collection.

With the assistance of public libraries and educational institutions, the Archives will offer a large on-line collection of Maryland newspapers for controlled public access in the future. To further that end, plans have been made to implement newspaper digitization.

As long as funding can be secured, the State Archives will continue to provide state-of-the-art facilities for preserving fragile newspapers and other historic documents.

[self-portrait photograph, Henry C. Schaefer, Annapolis, Maryland]


The Photographic and Visual Materials Section of Special Collections supervises the care, preservation, accessioning, and description of records of a visual or graphic nature. These items include electronic images, photographs, maps, prints, obsolete currency, postcards, ephemera, and other material with graphic and historic interest acquired usually as gifts or deposits from private donors. The section's mission is to acquire, safeguard, and make accessible the visual heritage of the State of Maryland and her people.

Henry C. Schaefer, self-portrait, Annapolis, Maryland, c. 1887-1895 (Henry C. Schaefer Collection, Special Collections MSA SC1804-1, Maryland State Archives).

Exhibits. The Section is responsible for the management and new exhibitions of the "Museum Without Walls" website. This site affords the Archives the opportunity to showcase materials and research derived from it collections. In addition, work has been initiated on three additional web exhibitions. The Use and Implications of Photographs for Mental Heath Care Reform, 1908-1910, which examines the campaign to win transfer of the indigent mentally ill from county almshouses into Maryland State mental hospitals. A second exhibition, also relating to the mentally ill, examines the care and treatment of patients at Maryland's State hospitals, 1921-1949. The third project relates to the role of Maryland women in the fundraising fair for sick and wounded Union soldiers held in Baltimore in 1864.

The Section also worked on It All Began Here in Annapolis: An Exhibit on Thoroughbred Racing in Colonial Maryland (May 2001). Covering the history of horse racing in Maryland and its Annapolis origins, the exhibition was hosted by the Mitchell Gallery at St. John's College. The bulk of photographic images for the show were acquired by the Curator from a private collector who deposited with the State Archives a collection of horse racing-related negatives. For the exhibit, the Archives also had made facsimiles of eighteenth-century maps of Annapolis.

The Archives participated in an exhibition on the history of Maryland photography. Maryland in Focus (December 2000-March 2001). Hosted by the Maryland Historical Society, it featured nine works from the Archives photographic collection. The Curator sat on the exhibition advisory board.

Special Projects of Note. The Curator coordinated the production of a mural that now hangs in the Miller Senate Office Building. Based upon a nineteenth-century lithograph of the Carrollton Viaduct in Baltimore, the canvas (9' x 13') adorns a stairwell landing between the second and third floors.

The Section provided critical visual research support to the Department of Legislative Services in producing a legislative history. Issued in 2001, Under The Dome: The Maryland General Assembly in the 20th Century provided an historical overview and featured approximately twenty images held by the State Archives.

Two interns, both St. John's College undergraduates, assisted in special projects during the calendar year. Krisitin Masser helped with web design and production for the "Museum Without Walls." Jo Ella Straley scanned photographs and materials relating to the late Robert C. Murphy, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, and Chair of the Hall of Records Commission. Her work also supported the Charting the Chesapeake web exhibition.

Outreach & Publications. In March 2001, the Curator spoke at a symposium on the history of Maryland photography. Sponsored by the Maryland Historical Society and attended by approximately three hundred people, the event featured several speakers and a discussion panel. The Curator delivered a Powerpoint presentation that examined photography as a tool in the reform campaign to improve mental health care in Maryland. The entire research paper will appear in the Maryland Historical Magazine, vol. 96, issue 4, (Winter 2002). In April 2001, the Curator delivered the same presentation to a graduate history class at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Accessions of Note:

Maryland State Archives