Newsletter of
The Maryland State Archives
Vol. 16, No. 1
January 14, 2002
performed on murals, stone sculptures, medieval and baroque churches, glass and metal objects, oil paintings, and paper and leather art and artifacts. Conservators' profiles are included, in Polish. 

The exhibit catalog, which is in Polish, is available from the Torun Chapter of the National Artist Association; Torun 87-100, ul Ducha Sw. 8/10/12. 

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The Archivists' Bulldog
by Pat Melville 

In 1898 the General Assembly directed the Maryland Geological Survey to investigate road construction in the state and to report its findings. Agency staff conducted research and traveled throughout the state to examine road conditions. The resulting Report on the Highways of Maryland (MdHR 789518, E14948) contained over 500 pages of text, maps, and photographs. The publication included eight sections: 

Part I, "Introduction, Including an Account of the Organization of Highway Investigations," by William Bullock Clark; 

Part II, "The Relations of Maryland Topography, Climate and Geology to Highway Construction," by William Bullock Clark; 

Part III, "Highway Legislation in Maryland, and Its Influence on the Economic Development of the State," by St. George Leakin Sioussat; 

Part IV, "The Present Condition of Maryland Highways." by Arthur Newhall Johnson; 

Part V, "Construction and Repair of Roads," by Arthur Newhall Johnson; 

Part VI, "Qualities of Good Road-Metals, and the Methods of Testing Them," by Harry Fielding Reid;

Part VII, "The Administration of Roads, Including the Method and Expense of Road Improvements," by Harry Fielding Reid; and 

Part VIII, "The Advantages of Good Roads," by Harry Fielding Reid. 

Part III represents an attempt to look at the history of roads in Maryland through an analysis of legislation enacted over time, along with an examination of some county records to ascertain

how the laws were implemented. That historical account is being used as a framework for this article and others to follow. Supplemental information will be garnered from county and state records at the State Archives, some of which will be the same materials used by Sioussat. 

The Chesapeake Bay and its multiple tributaries provided the principal means of transportation for 17th century Marylanders. Gradually, as settlements expand beyond navigable bodies of water, roads become more important for the movement of people and goods. The first road law in Maryland, passed in 1666, provided for the construction and maintenance of highways and of passages over streams and swamps suitable for horse and foot. Only later does transportation by wagon become an important factor in the construction and maintenance of roads. The commissioners in each county, composed of the county justices, were required to determine what roads were needed, appoint road overseers, and levy taxes. In lieu of taxes, citizens could furnish labor for road work. 

The overall effect of this general road law that remained in effect for 30 years was meager. Many roads continued to resemble mere paths from one place to another.  The overseers provided minimum services by removing underbrush, cutting trees, and draining marshy areas. In 1696 and 1704, the legislature enacted more comprehensive laws in order to improve conditions. Main roads were supposed to be at least twenty feet wide and kept clear and well grubbed. The county commissioners were required annually to list all public roads and appoint overseers. Instead of paying taxes, residents were required to work on the roads, or provide laborers, for a specified number of days per year. Fines could be imposed for failure to comply. 

Some of the early roads were established by widening trails used by the Indians. Many routes began or ended at a body of water, across from

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    (Adoption Papers) 1991-2000 [MSA T2308] RESTRICTED 
    (Agency Record) 1991 [MSA T3015] 
    (Bond Record) 1978-1992 [MSA T3009] 
    (County Road Plat Book) 1976-1989 [MSA T3368] 
    (Divorce Record) 1967-1993 [MSA T2236] 
    (Equity Record) 1847-1994 [MSA T3014] 
    (Financing Record) 1978-1993 [MSA T3011] 
    (Homeowners Association Record) 1988-1993 [MSA T3013] 
    (Jury Papers) 1996-1999 [MSA T3370] 
    (Land Acquisition Plat Book) 1956-1977 [MSA T3367] 
    (Marriage Application Record) 1979-2001 [MSA T3019] 
    (Marriage Record, Index) 1977-1986 [MSA T3366] 
    (Metropolitan Commission Record) 1971-1992 [MSA T3008] 
    (Military Discharges) 1978-1989 [MSA T3007] 
    (Miscellaneous Record) 1980-1994 [MSA T3016] 
    (Plat Book, Index) 1964-1992 [MSA T3364] 
    (Resolutions, County) 1977-1993 [MSA T3006] 
    (Sale Notice Requests) 1981-1992 [MSA T3010] 
    (Sale Notice Requests, Index) 1981-1987 [MSA T3371] 
    (State Road Plats) 1930-1976 [MSA T3025] 
    (State Road Property Plan Book) 1964 [MSA T3369] 
    (State Roads Commission Land Acquisition Papers) 1990-1993 [MSA T2309] 
    (Trust Docket) 1961-1997 [MSA T3365]