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Archives' Policies & Regulations

With the creation of the Hall of Records Commission, the General Assembly provided for the management of the public records and for the collection, custody, and preservation of the official records, documents, and publications of the State (Chapter 18, Acts of 1935). Formed in 1935, the Hall of Records was an independent agency of State government and remained so until its incorporation into the Department of General Services in 1970 (Chapter 97, Acts of 1970). In 1984, the Hall of Records reformed as the State Archives, an independent agency within the office of the Governor (Chapter 286, Acts of 1984). The 1984 law defined an advisory role for the Hall of Records Commission and placed the Commission on Artistic Property under the State Archives.

The following sections of the State Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland pertain to laws governing public records and the State Archives:

sec. 2-1513(b) [transfer to State Archives of vetoed bills]
sec. 3-404(b) [transfer to State Archives of executive orders]
sec. 7-213 (a) [transfer to State Archives of documents published in Code of Maryland Regulations or Maryland Register]
secs. 9-1001 through 9-1027 [State Archives & Hall of Records Commission; Commission on Artistic Property; Maryland Manual]
secs. 10-601 through 10-607 [forms management]
secs. 10-608 through 10-613 [records management]
secs. 10-614 through 10-619 [disposition of records and other materials]
secs. 10-701 , 10-702 [records of abolished or superseded units]

The State Archives issues policy statements from time to time to provide information and guidelines on the retention, disposal, transfer, and accessioning of public records and providing access to public records.

The first policy regarding the transfer of State Agency records to the Archives, apart from those required to be transferred by the original law creating the Hall of Records, was formulated by Dr. Morris Radoff in 1946-1947. It concerned Governors' Records. See the policy statement, an article on the first transfer under the policy, and the excerpt from the Annual Report for 1947, and current guidelines for those records.

Now, State agencies may arrange for the transfer and storage of their records directly with the Maryland State Archives. Please see the Records Transfer section of the Records Management Guidance website.

State agencies and citizens who would like help in determining what records of government should be retained permanently at the State Archives should consult the Archives' Regulations and the Guide to Government Records. For further information and assistance with regard to saving paper records and the retention and disposal scheduling process or disposition of electronic records, e-mail the State Archives at:

Sometimes public records stray into private hands, either deliberately or by accident. In Maryland, the general principle is "once a public record, always a public record" unless it has been deaccessioned through the records retention and disposal process. An Attorney General's opinion [64 Op. Att'y Gen. 273] addresses the subject of replevin. If a citizen acts in good faith in the acquisition of a public record and can establish how it was acquired, a finder's fee in an amount to be determined between the Archives and the possessor is possible.

The State Archivist and the Records Management Division of the Department of General Services jointly adopt regulations to define the character of records of archival quality; determine the quantity of those records; set standards for the development of record retention and disposal schedules; and provide for the periodic transfer to the State Archivist or disposal of records, in accordance with the schedules (Code State Government Article, sec. 10-608 through 10-619).

Each unit of State government must designate from executive staff a records officer to serve as a liaison to the Records Management Division and the State Archives and to develop the unit's records management program. (Code State Government Article, sec. 10-610). In addition, every five years, for the Report to the State Archives on series analysis of records held by State government units or officials, all State agencies are required to cooperate with the Records Management Division (Code State Government Article, sec. 10-611).

Archives' Regulations (Chapters 01-05)

The following rules and regulations are presented for information purposes only. The only legally binding copy of these rules and regulations is that published in the Maryland Register and codified in COMAR (Title 14), and should be obtained from the Secretary of State's Division of State Documents. The Division of State Documents is charged by statute with the responsibility for compiling, editing, publishing, and distributing the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), and the Maryland Register. Maryland law further directs that the Division charge a fee for these publications, whether they be published in paper or electronic form.

01 - Certificates of Reservation and Land Patents
02 - Records Retention and Disposition Schedules
03 - Local Archives
04 - repealed effective July 12, 2010 (37:14 Md. R. 940)
05 - Archival Standards for Records on Microfilm

Additional Policy Statements:

Access Statement
Inclusivity in Cataloging
Land Acknowledgement

Elaine R. Bachmann, State Archivist and Commissioner of Land Patents
Emily Oland Squires, Assistant State Archivist
Corey Lewis, Assistant State Archivist

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© Copyright January 16, 2024 Maryland State Archives