The Archivist's Bulldog

Vol. 12 No. 8, Newsletter of the Maryland State Archives, April 27, 1998

by Robert Barnes

Baltimore County, named for Lord Baltimore's Barony of Baltimore in the Kingdom of Ireland, first appeared in the records about 1659, although the exact date of the county's establishment is not known.

A very clear impression of a seal was attached by William Buchanan in 1805 to a copy of a will made for a chancery case. In chef (at the top of the circular seal) are what appear to be three sheaves of wheat. On a fess (horizontal stripe across the middle of the field) there is a plow. In base (at the bottom), there is a representation of a sailing vessel. This seal greatly resembles the seal of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, although the position of the wheat sheaves, plow and ship are changed. Around the edge of the seal are the words "The Office of the Register of Baltimore County" [Chancery Court (Chancery Papers) 5351, MdHR 17898-5351, MSA S512).

After the county received a home rule charter in 1957, a contest was held to adopt a design for a new county seal. The winning design, submitted by Adelaide M. Haspert of Towson, showed the Calvert and Crosland quarterings on a circular seal, with the four quarters separated by a white cross charged with seven stars, arranged 1, 5 and 1, representing the seven councilmanic districts (John Murphey, "Making It Official ... State and County Seals Still Do It," Maryland, Summer 1982, p. 37).

In 1694 the county was assigned the color green for its standard (For the act authorizing county colors, see "An Act of Francis Nicholson," dated 9 October 1694, in the Archives of Maryland, Vol. XX, p. 154). In 1962 another contest was held to pick a design for a county flag. John McLemore submitted the winning design, which was approved in September 1962. The Calvert arms appeared in the 1st quarter (upper left), and the Crosland arms were placed in the 4th quarter (lower right). The 2nd quarter (upper right) contained a red plow on a white field, representing agriculture. The 3rd quarter (lower left) contained a red cog-wheel on a white field, to stand for the county's industries (Murphy, p. 37).

from Piety, Chastity and Love of Country: Education in Maryland to 1916, by Margaret Lynne Browne and Patricia M. Vanorny (Maryland State Archives, 1984)

During and immediately after the Revolution, the free school system changed, but did not markedly improve in Maryland. The school visitor system had weakened considerably over the years until it provided little guidance. Gentlemen of means still sent their children abroad. Many of the more wealthy planters and tradesmen imitated this practice. This left only those of moderate to low income to patronize the schools. The wealthy did not believe in contributing to the education of the poor, except by voluntary charity.

By the late eighteenth century many county schools had united with or were absorbed by private schools or academies with stronger financial support. For example, Calvert County School merged into Lower Marlborough Academy in 1778; King William's School merged with the newly founded St. John's College in 1786; Talbot County School sold its property and consolidated its funds with Washington College in 1782; Cecil County School was given to the trustees of the poor in 1788; and Frederick County School became Frederick College by 1830.

After 1798, there was a surge in the incorporation of academies. These academies were founded by men who desired a good education for their sons, but probably were inconvenienced economically by sending their children abroad. Initially built and staffed by private funds, the academies were a suitable solution. Each academy was governed by a self-perpetuating body of visitors or trustees who supervised operation of the school and managed the funds from public and private sources. Between 1798 and 1821 at least twenty-four academies were established, many of which received state aid. From time to time there were proposals to withdraw the academy appropriations and donate them to the free schools, but these proposals were never enacted.

During the early nineteenth century Marylanders gradually began to perceive the necessity for a uniform system of education for all students. In 1813 the General Assembly established a general education fund by extending bank charters to 1835 on the condition that each bank pay $20,000 annually into a state fund for supporting county schools. In 1814, the state levied on banks an annual tax of $.20 on every $100 of capital stock. The Treasurer of the Western Shore was directed to invest the funds raised from this levy in stock of the Commercial and Farmers' Bank and Mechanics Bank, both of Baltimore, as an additional source for the free school fund. The fund was to be equally divided among the counties.

Distribution of the school fund commenced with the passage of two laws in 1817. The first law established commissioners of the school fund in each county to receive and disburse monies. A second act marked the first instance of direct taxation for school purposes, since each county levy court was given authority to impose a tax for education of the poor. Neither law succeeded, because state funds were inadequate and local governments failed to pursue satisfactorily their new powers and responsibilities.

During the next forty-seven years the General Assembly enacted many laws dealing with county agencies charged with the receipt and disbursement of state school funds. Depending on the county, the agency might be the orphans court, levy court, county commissioners, or a group of school oficials. Diversity and change seemed to govern the education system. The one attempt at statewide standardization was probably doomed from the outset.

An 1825 act provided what many people hoped would become a statewide general education system. The office of Superintendent of Public Instreuction was created to prepare plans for an educational system and to manage it once the plan was implemented. The act also provided for nine commissioners and up to eighteen inspectors of the primary schools for each county. These officials were given authority to establish school districts, distribute state and county funds, certify teachers, and examine schools. District trustees were charged with the management of individual schools. The effectiveness of this comprehensive plan was diminished by the provision that the act would be operative in a county only when ratified by a majority of the voters. Few counties ratified the act, and most that did changed the system in subsequent years.

The act of 1825 had two other defects. First, most of its provisions were borrowed from New England states that operated under a highly organized township system. The local administrative focus provided by township government was largely lacking in the larger, less tightly structured Maryland counties. Second, funding was insufficient for the grand design that was planned. Passage of the act did, however, symbolize final recognition that the state must assume responsibility for providing primary schools for Maryland children.

A number of counties and Baltimore City did manage to organize adequate systems of public education. Financial support came from state aid supplemented by special taxes and local legislation. Other counties made little headway in the education of children. Periodically, efforts were made to divert monies from the academies to the primary schools, but these measures usually failed. Academies remained strong and retained a large portion of the state monies devoted to education. Uniform systems of public education were discussed in legislative committees in 1837 and again in 1842, but the General Assembly failed to take any positive action.

The Constitutional Convention of 1850 seemed to be the perfect opportunity for a consideration of statewide general education. While education was not a primary issue, the delegates to the convention did discuss it at great length. The report of the Committee on Education included four recommendations: a permanent and adequate school fund, a uniform system of education, a superintendent of education, and a state normal school. These proposals were debated but never incorporated into the constitution.

by Pat Melville

During the first quarter of 1998 the Archives handled a divergent range of reference inquiries. From the entertainment field came a request for historical images and documents concerning Billie Holliday for a Ken Burns documentary on the history of jazz. Related topics include film censorship in Maryland and biographical information about Luther D. Heiges, a violin maker in Baltimore.

African American research involved blacks during the years 1850 through 1860, fugitive slave act, participation of free blacks in the legal system, public health in Baltimore, and slave cemeteries. Other groups being studied included American Indians and Amish and Mennonite land holdings in Garrett County. Local history topics pertained to College Park, Davidsonville, Hampstead, and Havre de Grace. One patron was looking at Southern Maryland during the 17th century.

Government and political studies covered the city of Annapolis, higher education legislation, habeas corpus during the Civil War, and Stamp Act of 1765. Military subjects included the American Revolution on the Eastern Shore, War of 1812 in general and its effect in Calvert County, 1st Maryland Regiment in the Revolution, USS Maine and the Spanish American War, and recruiting for the U.S. Army. Institutional and structural topics concerned West Arlington Water Tower, Annapolis Fire Department, Sotterly Plantation, Henryton Center, fire engines at the Naval Academy, Bachman Valley Railroad Co., and Old Treasury Building in Annapolis.

Religious topics pertained to Baptists in Maryland, history of Quakers, and St. Anne's Parish. Other subjects included bootlegging in Maryland and "my mother's true maiden name."

by Kevin Swanson

BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS (Proceedings, Tape Recordings) 1996 [MSA T1925]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Equity Papers A, Miscellaneous) var. dates [MSA T53]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Equity Papers B, Divorces and Foreclosures) var. dates [MSA T54]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Adoption Papers) 1981-1982 [MSA T1421]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Civil Papers, Equity and Law) 1983-1985 [MSA T2691]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT NO. 2 (Equity Papers A, Miscellaneous) var. dates [MSA T56]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT NO. 2 (Equity Papers B, Divorces and Foreclosures) var. dates {MSA T57]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT NO. 2 (Bond Record) 1980-1981 {MSA T1002]
BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT NO. 2 (Adoption Papers) 1981-1982 [MSA T1423]
BALTIMORE CITY COURT (Court Papers) var. dates [MSA T545]
BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Court Papers) var. dates [MSA T51]
CALVERT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Judgment Record) 1957-1977 [MSA T1841]
CALVERT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Bond Record) 1974-1979 [MSA T1842]
CALVERT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Land Records) 1973-1995 [MSA T2911]
CALVERT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Sale Notice Requests) 1981-1996 [MSA T2912]
CALVERT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (District Court Lien Record) 1973-1976 [MSA T2913]
CALVERT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1944-1995 {MSA T2914]
CECIL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Civil Papers) 1954-1962 [MSA T2631]

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 Chairman of the Hall of Records Commission is the Honorable Louis L. Goldstein, Comptroller, and the Vice Chairman is the Honorable Robert M. Bell, Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals.

The Archivists' Bulldog is issued bi-monthly to publicize records collections, finding aids, and other activities of the Archives and its staff. Subscription cost is $25 per year, and the proceeds go to the State Archives Fund. To subscribe, please 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. E-mail: The Editor welcomes editorial comments and contributions from the public.

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