The Archivist's Bulldog

Vol. 10 No. 14, Newsletter of the Maryland State Archives, July 24, 1996


GRAND JURY INSPECTIONS OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT
by Pat Melville

[Continuation of analysis of ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Grand Jury Reports) 1933-1966 [MSA C2137] and ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION (Grand Jury Reports) 1969-1981 [MSA CM1178].]

Until the adoption of charter government in 1964 the grand juries frequently investigated the operations of county government. The grand jury reports present a distorted picture of the county administration because of the heavy emphasis on deficiencies especially in the areas of accounting and budgeting, personnel, and structure.

A 1933 report called the bookkeeping system of the treasurer's office "practically incomprehensible." In 1937 the grand jury complained about the high tax rate and excessive spending by the board of county commissioners. Specific problems were outlined in 1939. Some expenditures were improperly charged against the funds debited. Budgets and audits were unnecessarily complicated by special taxes and charges. During the Depression the county had accumulated many parcels of land that were difficult to sell at tax sales. The jury recommended that ways be found to get these properties back on the tax rolls. By 1940 the budget process was being regularized by the employment of a budget director.

In 1937 the grand jury recommended a reduction in the number of what in its view was an excessive number of county employees. One year later it lamented even higher growth in county personnel. In the late 1950s the juries repeatedly advocated the adoption of a merit system for employees. "We must forget about patronage and politics in our personnel operations and try to run this County like an efficient business." A merit system was implemented in 1963.

The grand jury joined the debate in the early 1960s concerning the structure of the Anne Arundel County government, the existing board of county commissioners as opposed to the proposed charter form with a county executive and council. Jury reports pointed out the inefficiencies and drawbacks of having executive and legislative functions in one governing body. The county commissioners "concern themselves with minutiae which should be delegated and then either fail to act in the establishment of sound governing policy or permit policy to be disregarded by their inattention." In county offices the juries found divided authority, inadequate accountability, duplicate functions, and conflicting orders being given subordinates.

The sanitary commission and public works department were subject to much criticism in the early 1960s. The sanitary commission failed to submit detailed budgets, relied on appointees to both formulate and administer policies, and allowed confusing accounting practices. Some grand juries advocated a merger of the commission and the public works department. Others felt the department needed "fortification, not added burdens." The public works problems included verbal, rather than written, approvals for contract changes and verbal confirmation of easements from property owners. Records were mislaid or lost because of "loosely organized filing systems."

Readers familiar with Ritchie Highway will appreciate the following statement from a 1939 grand jury report. The highway "is about to be completed without any steps having been taken by the law-making body to protect this highway from being despoiled by commercial signs and structures which are either unsightly or dangerous, or both."

After establishment of charter government, the grand jury investigated aspects of county government only when criminal allegations were present.

RECENT RECORD TRANSFERS
by Kevin Swanson

DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL SERVICES, RECORDS MANAGEMENT DIVISION (State-Wide Records Inventory, Quinquennial) 1995 [MSA T2765]
DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES, PG DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES (Foster Care File) 1991-1992 [MSA T332]
DEPARTMENT OF LEGISLATIVE REFERENCE (Legislative Histories) 1990-1991 [MSA T383]
DEPARTMENT OF LEGISLATIVE REFERENCE (Committee File) 1972-1985 [MSA T2764]
DEPARTMENT OF PERSONNEL (Grievance Cases) 1977-1995 [MSA T2356]
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, MARYLAND STATE POLICE (Manuals) 1977-1983 [MSA T1649]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, INTERNAL AUDIT (Audit File) 1988-1991 [MSA T1647]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION (Deeds and Agreements) var.d. [MSA T1210]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION (Right of Way File) var.d. [MSA T1618]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION (General Ledger) 1966-1992 [MSA T2761]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION (Road Transfers and Conveyances) var.d. [MSA T2766] @noindent = GOVERNOR (General File) var.d. [MSA T2685]
STATE ADMINISTRATIVE BOARD OF ELECTION LAWS (Campaign Reports) 1990-1992 [MSA T261]
STATE ADMINISTRATIVE BOARD OF ELECTION LAWS (Election Papers) 1980-1990 [MSA T262]
STATE ADMINISTRATIVE BOARD OF ELECTION LAWS (Petitions) 1991-1992 [MSA T263]
STATE ADMINISTRATIVE BOARD OF ELECTION LAWS (Ballot File) 1988-1990 [MSA T264]
STATE ADMINISTRATIVE BOARD OF ELECTION LAWS (Litigation File) 1970-1980 [MSA T2762]
STATE ADMINISTRATIVE BOARD OF ELECTION LAWS (Election District Maps) 1970-1990 [MSA T2763]
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (URESA Papers) var.d. [MSA T1410]
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Trust Estate Papers) var.d. [MSA T2642]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Equity Papers A, Miscellaneous) var.d. [MSA T53]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Equity Papers B, Divorces and Foreclosures) var.d. [MSA T54]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Equity Papers C, Foreclosures) var.d. [MSA T472]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (URESA Docket) 1966-1987 [MSA T2759]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT NO. 2 (Paternity Docket) 1963-1983 [MSA T2758]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT NO. 2 (Equity Papers A, Miscellaneous) var.d. [MSA T56]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT NO. 2 (Equity Papers B, Divorces and Foreclosures) var.d. [MSA T57]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT NO. 2 (Equity Papers C, Foreclosures) var.d. [MSA T477]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT NO. 2 (URESA Docket) 1955-1981 [MSA T2760]
BALTIMORE CITY CRIMINAL COURT (Bastardy Information Docket) 1956-1963 [MSA T481]
BALTIMORE CITY CRIMINAL COURT (Domestic Information Docket) 1960-1970 [MSA T491]
BALTIMORE CITY CRIMINAL COURT (Domestic Information Papers) 1984-1990 [MSA T2406]
BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Federal Tax Liens) 1957-1975 [MSA T2542]
BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (State Tax Liens) 1957-1975 [MSA T2543]
BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (State Tax Lien Record) 1948-1970 [MSA T2544]
BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Federal Tax Lien Record) 1923-1974 [MSA T2545]
BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Military Discharges) 1945-1975 [MSA T2728]
FREDERICK COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS (Estate Papers) 1980-1988 [MSA T92]

STATE AND LOCAL RECORDS REFERENCE REPORT
by Kevin Swanson

The June total of 974 reference requests represents a 7.5% increase over the June 1995 total of 906. Surprisingly, this increase in requests was accompanied by a 2% decrease in the number of records circulated, from 1436 last year to 1407 in 1996. There were 6 more vital records requested in June 1996 (408) than in 1995 (402). Circulation of district court records decreased by 21.8%, 283 compared to 362. Requests for records of the circuit courts and other agencies increased by 6.5%, 716 compared to 672.

Overall, the judiciary continues as the largest single user of SLR reference services. The number of reference requests received from the courts decreased by 8.6% (235 compared to 257), while the number of records requested decreased by 20.7% (387 compared to 488). Even so, court requests accounted for 24.1% of all requests received and 27.5% of total record circulation.

Requests received by phone again decreased in June (286 compared to 346) accounting for 29.4% of total requests. The number of requests faxed to the Archives increased from 59 to 65. Overall, fax requests was flat, making up 6.7% of the June 1996 total, while accounting for 6.5% of the May 1995 total. More requests were generated from the search room (172) than had been the case in June 1995 (99). Search room requests accounted for 17.7% of June 1996 reference activity as compared to 10.9% last year, an increase of 6.8%. We also received 16 requests handled in the lobby without requiring the patron to register for the search room. This compares favorably with the 14 lobby requests received in June 1995.

The number of phone/fax requests (351) fell well short of the number of requests received through the mail (434). Phone/fax requests accounted for 36% of total requests, with the mail accounting for 44.6%.

Revenue from reference activity was up 8.3% over last June, $7699 compared to $7109.

NOTES FROM THE CONSERVATION LAB
by Hanna Szczepanowksa

The annual meeting of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) was held on June 11-16 in Norfolk, VA. Over 900 people attended the meeting, including several from overseas. I presented a paper entitled, "Image Permanency on Polyester Film." The question of image permanency was raised about a decade ago, when some of the subdivision plats copied on polyester film began to adhere to each other. The paper outlined this very complex problem, but could offer no definite solutions. More research and experimentation is required.

On June 21 the Conservation Lab conducted a preservation workshop for small institutions with limited staff and resources. The workshop, attended by nine participants, focused on hands-on-experience. The same session will be repeated on September 13.

Allison McGuire, an undergraduate conservation student from the University of Delaware, is spending her second summer as an intern in the Conservation Lab.

REFERENCE REPORT
by Pat Melville

Among new patrons in June the overwhelming majority were conducting genealogical research or looking for modern court records. Other topics were sparsely represented. African American subjects included laws regarding free blacks, 1790-1850, and Civil War soldiers. Institutional studies pertained to the Department of Education and the Baltimore City Circuit Court. Other topics concerned Cedar Point Lighthouse, Revolutionary War burial sites, Quakers in 18th century Virginia, Maryland families associated with the Lee family of Virginia, London Town in the colonial period, and the 1933 hurricane.

Reference activity in the search room did not match that of June 1995. Total circulation declined 23.1%, 8835 compared to 11,488. Use of original materials dropped 56.2%, 1471 compared to 3359. The circulation of library books fell 47.4%, 993 compared to 1888. The demand for microfilm remained high, rising 2.1%, 6371 compared to 6241.

The total number of patrons deceased slightly by 1.5%, 1274 compared to 1294 last year. New researchers declined 6.4%, 381 compared to 407. Returning patrons rose only .7%, 893 compared to 887.

Strangely enough the low circulation and registration figures are not reflected in the numbers for copying work. Photoduplication orders rose 25.2%, $2900.50 compared to $2316.50 in June 1995. Reader printer income jumped 49%, $1626.00 compared to $1091.00.

Reference phone calls increased moderately in June, up 4.7%, 1260 compared to 1203 in 1995. The daily average reached 63, up from 55 last year.

REFERENCE ON THE ARCHIVES WEB SITE
[http://www.mdarchives.state.md.us]

by Pat Melville

For genealogical research the Reference Services section of the State Archives web site provides the most information. General information includes location, days and hours of operation, copying fees, and answers to frequently asked questions.

More specific details are presented for government records and selected special collections. The Archives has placed on-line all electronic guides, published and unpublished, to government records, including A Guide to Government Records at the Maryland State Archives: A Comprehensive List by Agency and Record Series, A Guide to State Agency Records at the Maryland State Archives: State Agency Histories and Series Descriptions, printed guides to county and Baltimore City records on film, unpublished guide to state records on film, and unpublished series unit lists for accessioned, original records. Through hyperlinks a researcher can determine whether the Archives has a particular type of record, read a description of its content or a history of the agency that created it, and identify the specific index, volume, box, or film needed for research. People wishing to acquire film through interlibrary loan or purchase can easily determine specific reel numbers.

Other resources for genealogical research in government records include a list of indexes (cards, volumes, and databases) available in the Search Room at the Archives, information about vital records (birth, death, marriage, and divorce), and forms for ordering birth and death records. Plans are being developed for providing web access to the database indexes. For genealogy and other research the web site contains a description of African American resources.

The Archives presents some aspects of special collections on its web site. The newspaper section consists of histories of Maryland newspapers; issues available on film at the Archives, listed individually by reel number; and issues found at other institutions. The church record section contains itemized information about registers and other documents, mostly on film. This is an ongoing project with work on Methodist, Quaker, and United Brethren denominations not yet completed. Other special collection presentations include brief descriptions of recent accessions and finding aids for the Huntingfield Map Collection, Savings Bank of Baltimore Collection, and the Peabody Art Collection.

The Reference Services portion of the Archives web site also contains lists of books and merchandise available for purchase and issues of The Archivist's Bulldog, a bi-weekly newsletter that includes articles about record series, indexes, acquisitions, and staff and volunteer activities.



THE ARCHIVIST'S BULLDOG

Founded 1987

Edward C. Papenfuse, State Archivist

Patricia V. Melville, Editor

Mimi Calver, Assistant Editor

Lynne MacAdam, Production Editor

Rita Molter, Circulation

The Maryland State Archives is an independent agency in the Office of Governor Parris N. Glendening and is advised by the Hall of Records Commission, the Honorable Robert C. Murphy, chairman.

The Archivist's Bulldog is issued bi-monthly to publicize record collections, finding aids, and other activities of the Archives. The Editor welcomes editorial comments and contributions from the public.

Subscription cost is $25.00 per year, and the proceeds go to the State Archives Fund. To subscribe, send your name, address, and remittance to the Maryland State Archives, 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1686. Phone: MD toll free: (800) 235-4045 or (410) 260-6400. FAX: (410) 974-3895.

The Archives maintains a Web site on the Internet. Our Web address is http://mdarchives.state.md.us

Our e-mail address is archives@mdarchives.state.md.us


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