The Archivist's Bulldog

Vol. 10 No. 3, Newsletter of the Maryland State Archives, February 12, 1996

by Pat Melville

The Archives has grand jury reports from several county circuit courts: Anne Arundel, 1933-1981; Baltimore City, 1925-1964 and 1973; Baltimore County, 1960-1961; Calvert County, 1886-1942; Montgomery County, 1923-1976; Prince George's County, 1803-1887; and Wicomico County, 1900-1990. Some reports are found only in State Publications. The grand jury has been part of the Maryland judicial system since the colony was founded; it had been used in Great Britain since the 14th century. For an analysis of the grand jury and its work the following records were examined - 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]. In a later article it will become clear why the board of education received reports.

The grand jury has two functions. First, it must hear criminal charges and return indictments or dismiss the case. Second, it must examine state, county, and municipal buildings where hazards to the public might exist. In Anne Arundel County the grand jury meets at each of the two court terms held each year. Each jury panel contains twenty-three people, including one who is designated the foreman. Initially only men served on a grand jury. Not until October 1947 were women empaneled in Anne Arundel County. The names of the jurors appear in each report.

As each grand jury convened a circuit court judge offered remarks and instructions. In 1935 the judge summarized their criminal work as follows. "Some say your body is an arm of the court, others an arm of the police agencies. This is immaterial. It is sufficient that you are an indispensable part of the enforcement machinery of the laws of this county. Your duty is to hear accusations, and even to initiate accusations where acts or omissions constituting crimes, are within your own personal knowledge. Also, any citizen, including the Court, may bring to your attention such acts or omissions.... Most cases will come to you from the Police Justices, and will be submitted to you by the States's Attorney."

During the 1970s many organizations and individuals including the jurors themselves began to question the value of the jury's indictment powers. In the end the institution was deemed essential and retained. As stated in the September 1972 report: "When corrupt, power-hungry or demented men occupy high offices, the Grand Jury stands like a shield between the citizen and the arbitrary or capricious misuses of the sovereign power of the State. The grand jury, like the petit jury, affords the American citizen ... a vital and essential role in our system of justice. Citizen participation is all that makes a democracy possible."

During the same time period the jurors began to receive more detailed orientation and instructions, and a handbook was prepared. It contained a set of legal definitions that today can assist us in understanding the criminal justice system and its dockets and case files. An arraignment is the process of bringing an accused person before a court to inform him/her of the charges and to spell out certain rights. Sometimes this is called an initial appearance. At the circuit court level, the procedure includes a plea from the accused, a selection of mode of trial (jury or non-jury), and resolution of others issues involving pretrial release or legal representation.

An indictment is a charging document returned by a grand jury based upon their finding that probable cause exists to charge an individual with one or more criminal acts. An information is a charging document based upon the oath of the State's Attorney that there is probable cause for the charge(s). In general, an indictment is used for felonies while an information is used for misdemeanors. There can be exceptions to this rule.

A preliminary hearing may be given in the District Court to a person accused of a felony to determine if there is sufficient evidence or probable cause to turn the case over for action of the grand jury or the states attorney.

The next article will provide more details about the criminal work of the grand jury, both routine matters and special investigations.


On Monday, January 29, Ed, Elaine and Mimi went to Government House for the opening of an exhibition of drawings by the 19th century Baltimore artist, Alfred Jacob Miller. Ed and Elaine worked closely with the staff of the Walters Art Gallery to organize the exhibition, and Elaine and Mimi wrote and designed the brochure with the help of Lynne. Called A Baltimore Watchman, the exhibition features mostly satirical drawings, many of which are drawn from incidents in Miller's childhood in Baltimore and provide a unique insight into mid-nineteenth century popular culture. Some of the drawings are on literary themes, especially the works of Charles Dickens. The first group of 16 works will be on display in Government House until April 4, and the second group will be up until July 4. This is the first of a series of temporary exhibitions to be placed in Government House, a project initiated by Mrs. Glendening.

by Shashi Thapar

Carothers, Bettie, Maryland Oaths of Fidelity.
Cavey, Kathleen Tull-Burton, Tombstones and Beyond: Prospect U.M. Church Cemetery and Marvin Chapel Church.
Edwards, Richard Laurence, Ancestors and Descendants of the Edwards, Mathis, Delozier and Related Families.
Hoopes, E. Erick, Record of Internments at the Friends Burial Ground, Baltimore, Maryland (est. 1681).
McCracken, George E., The Yard Family of Philadelphia and Trenton.
Mullins, Paul R., Final Archaeological Investigations at Maryland Burgass House: An 1850-1980 African-American Household in Annapolis, Maryland, 2 vols.
Neill, Francis P., Index of Obituaries and Marriages in the [Baltimore] Sun, 1871-1875, 2 vols.
Peden, Henry C., Jr., Revolutionary Patriots of Frederick County, Maryland, 1775-1783.
Peden, Henry C., Jr., Revolutionary Patriots of Baltimore City, Maryland, 1765-1840.
Rice, Christine Rogers, Gensis in Virginia, vol. 1.
Rusk, David, Baltimore Unbound: A Strategy for Regional Renewal.
Seitz, R. Carlton, Maps of Land Patents in Northern Baltimore and Carroll Counties (with Name Indexes).
Skinner, V. L., Jr., Abstracts of the Administration Accounts of the Prerogative Court of Maryland, Libers 1-5, 1718-1724.
Thomson, Donald C., William Knight and His Descendants.
Warner, Mark S., Phase I-II Archaeological Investigations on the Courthouse Site: An Historic African-American Neighborhood in Annapolis, Maryland.

by Kevin Swanson

The November total of 869 reference requests represents a 10.1% increase over the November 1994 total of 781. In December there were 774 requests, compared to 736 last year, for a 5.2% increase. Surprisingly, these increases in requests were accompanied by decreases in the number of records circulated - in November by 3.9%, 1362 compared to 1418, and in December by 3.4%, 1155 compared to 1196. There were 19 more vital records requests in November 1995 (215) than in 1994 (196). In December the comparable numbers were 162 and 168.

Circulation of district court records in November increased by 4.5%, 277 compared to 265 and decreased in December by 10.3%, 245 compared to 273. Requests for records of the circuit courts and other agencies decreased in November by 8.3%, 728 compared to 794 and in December by 1.6%, 600 compared to 610.

Overall, the judiciary continues as the largest single user of SLR reference services. The number of reference requests received from the courts in November increased by 20.8%, 221 compared to 183, thus accounting for 25.4% of all requests received and 33.2% of total record circulation. The December figures were virtually unchanged, 206 compared to 204, representing 26.6% of all requests and 32.6% of all records circulated.

Requests received by phone again increased in November, accounting for 36.6% of total requests, compared to 32.9% in 1994. In December the respective figures were 35.1% and 29.5%. The number of requests faxed to the Archives decreased in November from 57 to 48, while they rose in December from 96 to 117. Overall, fax requests made up only 5.5% of the November total, while accounting for 15.1% of the December total.

Requests generated from the search room continued to decline - in November 78 compared to 110 in 1994 and in December 64 compared to 131 in 1994. Search room requests accounted for 9% of November 1995 reference activity and 8.3% in December. We also received 26 requests handled in the lobby in November without requiring the patron to register for the search room. The figure in December was 8.

The number of phone/fax requests (366) in November again fell short of the number of requests received through the mail (399). In December the number of phone/fax requests (389) surpassed requests through the mail (313) by a wide margin. Encouragingly, phone/fax requests continue to far exceed the number of requests received through in-person visits by 104 in November and by 72 in December. In November phone/fax requests accounted for 42.1% of total requests, with the mail accounting for 45.9%. Comparable figures for December were 50.3% and 40.4%.

Revenue from reference activity in November was up 24.4%, $6932.00 compared to $5571.00, in part because SLR is copying many records formerly done in the photo lab. The rise of 3.1% in December was more modest, $5335.00 compared to $5174.00

by Kevin Swanson
SECRETARY OF STATE (Notary Public Applications) 1995 [T861]
SECRETARY OF STATE (Extraditions) 1990-1992 [T864]
SECRETARY OF STATE (Financial Disclosure Statements) 1985-1990 [T2684]

by Connie Neale

Many new reels of film have appeared in the search room, all very useful to researchers and staff alike. The largest project, which is almost completed, is the refilming of the (Patent Record) series. The old WK film, which was so difficult to use, has been replaced by new reels whose descriptions match those used in the card indexes and in the finding aids to the volumes. The films are in the SR collection, [MSA SM2]. The finding aid is in the State Records microfilm notebooks.

Also refilmed are the Baltimore County (Wills) 1666-1852 [MSA CM189], and the Baltimore City Criminal Court (Criminal Docket) 1960-1974 [MSA CM1299]. The former are replacements for the old film which was brittle and tearing. The criminal dockets were filmed as a conservation measure. The pages in the original volumes are tattered and falling out of the bindings. The dockets provide case numbers needed to retrieve (Criminal Papers) [MSA T495].

Current projects include the refilming of Anne Arundel County (Wills) 1777-1959 [MSA CM123] and several series of the Baltimore City naturalization records. A few of these are finished, specifically, (Declaration of Intention) and (Naturalization Applications) of the Baltimore City Court and (Declaration of Intentions) of the Criminal Court)

by Debbie Gousha

Ed noted that many state agencies are facing great changes as loss of funding results in staff reductions. The Archives was able to reduce its FY96 budget without laying off any staff. He highlighted the Archives volunteer program and expressed his gratitude for the efforts of the many volunteers. The archives could not maintain its high quality of reference services and finding aids work without their help. One such person was Gene Clements who prodded us to deal with several appraisal issues and worked in the search room as a reference volunteer. The Archives mourns his recent death and will miss him and his contributions.

Ed also mentioned the tragedy that befell Agnus Callum whose house exploded and burned to the ground. All of her books, records, and other source materials representing years of work on the African American community were lost. Agnes was one of the first people to recognize the research value of the Savings Bank of Baltimore records, now part of Special Collections at the Archives. These records help document lives of the working class in Baltimore. We are working with a group of individuals to replace the reference materials she lost. There is also an effort to replace her computer and microfilm reader.

Ed discussed changes in the membership of the Hall of Records Commission. State Treasurer Lucille Maurer retired recently and is being replaced by the new treasurer, Richard N. Dixon. Retiring this fall is Judge Robert C. Murphy who has been chairman of the commission for over twenty years. His successor will be named by Governor Glendening. Judge Murphy and the Commission were instrumental in the acquisition of our new building.

The Archives now has eight computers on loan from the Anne Arundel County school system. These computers will be used to instruct teachers from Anne Arundel County about the use of the electronic classroom that was developed during the teachers institute last summer. At other times the computers are available for use by the staff.

The Archives has received about 26,000 visitors to the Archives' Web site since last March. New technology is opening up a whole new dimension for the Archives. The photolab can incorporate this new technology using scanning methods, yet not abandon film as a permanent medium. Customer services are enhanced by being able to provide information about government online.

Betsy Bodziak and Arian Ravanbakhsh were recently promoted to archivist positions, and Elaine Rice was selected to fill the curator of artistic property position. Interviews will begin soon for the assistant registrar of special collections and supervisor of archival assistants.

Several staff in their annual evaluations expressed concern about parking and building maintenance. The shopping center is once again threatening to tow cars. Staff should either park on the street or use the Naval Academy Stadium. Rob MacAdam is surveying the building and will prepare a report concerning structural changes and maintenance. Building maintenance will be one of the agenda items at the Commission meeting on March 14.

During the recent budget cuts, the Archives had to sacrifice funds for the Legislative History Project and adjust turnover for a total reduction of $24,000 in FY96. The proposed FY97 budget does not include funds for the Legislative History or Carroll Papers projects. In the future, publication of the Maryland Manual may occur only once every four years, after a change in administration. The Archives was successful in obtaining money to maintain our Web Site and to operate the warehouse in Hammonds Ferry. Last week, Ed appeared before House and Senate budget committees and presented testimony on the Archives' FY97 budget submission. The budget includes a 6.4% increase in general funds and a new position to help manage the growing electronic archive of state records. The legislative fiscal analyst recommended that special funds be used for the new position but had no other reductions in funding to suggest.

At our request, an administration bill is being introduced to revise the vital records law. The restrictions on marriage and divorce records received from the Division of Vital Records would be removed completely, and those on death records reduced from twenty to ten years. The 100 year restriction on birth records would remain. Ed thanked Connie for her excellent work on this legislation.

Richard thanked the staff for their contributions to the United Way. Our increase of 30% was the largest increase of any state agency.

Employees who have recently left the Archives include Mame Warren, Mattie Wallace, and Tina Moreland. One new employee, Debbie Gousha, a reference archivist, was welcomed. Anniversaries in November include Andie Beard, 26 years; Donna Coates, 3 years; Beverley Coombs, 2 years; Wilder Stewart, 9 years; Kevin Swanson, 11 years; and Melissa Thomas, 1 year. Anniversaries in December include Doug Creek, 4 years; Chris Haley, 2 years; and Ray Lynch, 9 years. Anniversaries in January include Theresa Boston, 13 years; Richard Richardson, 16 years; and Stephen Collins, 1 year.

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