This page will provide you with information that will help you in your genealogy and ancestry research for the state of Maryland. It includes a timeline for the state, when the state began recording vital records, what US and State census records are available, a map of the counties in the state and link to page showing when counties were formed, and links to a variety of genealogy and ancestry resources for the state of Maryland.
Early European explorers such as Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524 and John Smith in 1608 sailed along Maryland’s coastline. They mapped the area and reported back to Europe of their findings. In 1631, the first European settlement was established by English fur trader William Claiborne.
In 1632, English King Charles I gave George Calvert a royal charter for the colony of Maryland. George died shortly after, but his son Cecil Calvert inherited the land. Cecil Calvert’s brother, Leonard, led a number of settlers to Maryland in 1634. They sailed on two ships called the Ark and the Dove. Leonard wanted Maryland to be a place where people could worship religion freely. They established the town of St. Mary’s, which would be the capital of the colony for many years.
The following is just a brief timeline. I have included links to several Maryland State History Timelines with more details in the links section below.
1631 – The first European settlement is established by trader William Claiborne.
1632 – The royal charter for the colony of Maryland is granted to George Calvert.
1634 – Leonard Calvert led English settlers to the new colony and founded the city of St. Mary’s.
1664 – A law is passed allowing slavery in Maryland.
1695 – Annapolis is made the capital city.
1729 – The city of Baltimore is founded.
1767 – Maryland’s northern boundary is set by the Mason-Dixon Line.
1788 – Maryland is admitted to the Union as the 7th state.
1814 – The British attack Fort Henry. Francis Scott Key writes “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
1862 – The most deadly battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Antietam, is fought near Sharpsburg.
1904 – Much of downtown Baltimore is destroyed by fire.
In 1640 the Maryland Assembly provided for the recording of births, marriages, and burials by the clerk of ‘Every Court’; banns were to be posted three days before a marriage, but very few of these records exist. Those that do are indexed at the Maryland State Archives. When the Anglican Church became the official church of the colony in 1692, the parishes were instructed to register the births, marriages, and deaths of all residents except African Americans. Every county formed by 1770 has at least one pre-Revolution parish register, and many of these include African Americans.
The clerks of the county circuit courts were to record births and deaths beginning in 1865, but compliance was very poor. The City of Baltimore started recording births and deaths in 1875 and the counties in 1898. This arrangement of county and city recording merged into a state system in 1972. The first place to check for Maryland births (1898’1998), including those for Baltimore City (1875’1978), is the Maryland State Archives, which has microfilm of records and indexes. The state archives also has Maryland death records for 1898 to 1987 (indexes 1898’1968), with Baltimore City deaths for 1875 to 1987 (indexes 1875’1971). Birth and death records, but not corresponding indexes, are restricted births for one hundred years and deaths for twenty years. The state archives can certify births through 1924 and deaths through 1987. County civil marriage records from 1914 through 1950 are at the state archives but are indexed only to 1930.
Further information, restrictions, and fees are found online at Maryland State Archives.
You can read more information about Maryland Vital records at Maryland Vital Records.
Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available online. I’ve included their links in the Links section below.
Ancestry.com has digitized images of the entire U.S. Federal Census Schedules 1790-1930 and created searchable indexes for the images. This collection can be accessed at U.S. Federal Census Collection.
Industry and Agriculture Schedules
Union Veterans Schedules
A 1776 census was taken to determine population and is indexed at the Maryland State Archives, but it is not available for all counties. A transcription of the Maryland Colonial Census, 1776 is available at Ancestry.com.
You can find Maryland County Information at Maryland County Resources, which shows name of county, position on the map, dates formed, parent county(ies), when deeds and Orphan’s Court began keeping records.
Maryland Family History Research – written by Roger D. Joslyn, CG, FUGA, FGBS, FASG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, 3rd edition, 2004.
Ancestry.com, Maryland vital record databases and Census (subscription may be required):
FamilySearch.org collections available for free online:
GenealogyBuff.com – Maryland Genealogy Data
LDS Genealogy – Maryland Genealogy
Maryland GenWeb – MDGenWeb
The Ancestor Hunt – Maryland Birth, Marriage and Death Record links
Maryland Genealogical Society
Genealogy Trails – Maryland
Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness
AccessGenealogy – Maryland Genealogy
GenealogySpot – Maryland
Maryland History Time – Maryland Office of Tourism
Maryland History Timeline – Maryland Kids Pages
Maryland Manual On-line – Maryland at a Glance
eReference Desk – Maryland History Timeline
Timelines of History – Timeline Maryland
Datesandevents.org – Maryland History Timeline
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