Newsletter of
The Maryland State Archives
Vol. 16, No. 22
December 9, 2002

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The Archivists' Bulldog

The Hall of Records Commission, chaired by  the Honorable Robert M. Bell, met at the Archives on November 25. Chris Allan, former deputy state archivist, was present as a special guest in his role as the organizer of a friends of the Archives group. Chairman Bell presented Diane Evartt and Pat Melville with Governor's Citations for their many years of service at the Archives. 

Several administrative and fiscal matters were presented to the Commission. Ed Papenfuse announced that he is surveying state archives throughout the country regarding the effects of reduced budgets. The Slavery Commission received a $25,000 grant from the National Park Service for the study of the underground railroad in Maryland. These funds will help continue the research begun during the summer, including the documentation of runaways through ads placed in the Baltimore Sun and other newspapers. 

The new law regarding the electronic recordation of state highway plats by the Archives is being implemented, and researchers are already using the documents. 

The Hammond-Harwood House Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland, 1608 - 1908 (The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 1982) has been out of print for several years. Ed's desire to revise and expand the publication was made possible by a $50,000 grant from the Rosenburg Foundation. The new book, entitled The Maryland State Archives Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland, 1608-1908 will encompass many more plates, in color, including all county wall maps. This enhanced edition will contain new information about mapping and state boundaries and higher definition illustrations. Full size reproductions of the maps will be available for a fee. 

Proceeds from the sale of the book and plate reproductions will go to the Archives Endowment Fund. The map book is scheduled for release on Maryland Day, 2003. 

Other contributions to the Endowment Fund in the past several months have included honorariums given to staff members for presentations about the Archives to outside groups and a portrait fund. When Governor Albert Ritchie's portrait was commissioned, a fund was established for its maintenance. The bank holding the long-forgotten funds contacted the Archives.  The Artistic Property Commission now owns the portrait and the $16,000 that was in the fund  now resides in the endowment fund and the interest will be applied toward its original purpose of caring for the portrait. 

Ed mentioned the recent, but rare, issuance of a patent for vacant land. The documentation submitted to prove the land was vacant is available online. 

Under active consideration is a joint Archives and Judiciary proposal to develop a digital image retrieval system for land record indexes in Maryland and to retire from the Elroi system to the Archives land record images that are over ten years old. Ed demonstrated how the index system will work and how it can connect to images of the land records themselves. The first three counties scheduled for implementation include Prince George's, Baltimore, and Worcester. 

Two Special Collections were noted. Many years ago, the Barra Foundation deposited at the Archives drafts of letters James McHenry wrote to George Washington.  It now has donated the collection to the Archives. The Society of Colonial Wars presented to the Archives a book containing the transcript of the rape trial of Lord Baltimore in 1763-1764, at which a woman was the defense attorney.

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The Archivists' Bulldog 
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Two of the most popular online findings aids have grown substantially in the past few months. The Archives of Maryland site now includes 529 volumes. The 24th and final jurisdiction will be added to by the end of the calendar year with the addition of the Baltimore City Circuit Court. 

Ed discussed several research and education projects. He and Nancy Bramucci participated in the American History in Maryland program this summer in conjunction with UMBC. It was designed to help history teachers from Baltimore City and County develop lesson plans. Ed continues to co-teach a Race and the Law class at the University of Maryland School of Law, where students research the backgrounds of precedent cases. Adam Tavol, one of the summer interns with the Slavery Commission, used his research with ads for runaway slaves to develop a visual presentation showing the distribution of runaways among the counties, the months most popular for departure, examples of ads, and analysis of their importance. 

Tim Baker discussed the "Transition Document" prepared for the Governor's office and for the transition team of the Governor-elect. Commission members received copies. The report discusses the goals and objectives of the Archives, outlines key issues facing the institution, and makes recommendations for resolving them. 

by Pat Melville 

The dictionary defines an outpension as a "public pension granted to one not required to live in a charitable institution." This method of caring for the poor is the predecessor of the modern welfare system. During the colonial period and through the 19th century, county governments in Maryland provided at public expense annual allowances to individuals unable to work or to the persons who cared for them. 

To prevent fraud and, perhaps, to discourage unworthy applicants, the recipients of the outpensions, during the colonial period, were required to wear badges. Refusal or neglect to display them in public could result in severance of the pension. Notations about these requirements appeared periodically in the minutes of the Anne Arundel Court in (Judgment Record) in series C91. In 1734, Amos Woodward received a contract to provide 36 white badges with the letters AAC in red. 

By 1750, the number of badges had increased to 60 and by 1754 to 100, presumably reflecting the anticipated number of outpensioners. In both years, Patrick Creagh held the contract to furnish the badges. 

The badge concept was continued as county governments established almshouses for housing the poor, beginning in 1768. Residents were required to wear badges marked with the letter P. 

NOTICE:  The next issue of the Bulldog will appear on January 13, 2003.