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Genealogy/Family History ResourcesFamily History Research at the Pratt / State Library Resource Center: An Overview


Getting Started
Researching your family at the Enoch Pratt Free Library
     Maryland Department
     Periodicals Department
     Social Science and History Department
Other Web Guides on Genealogical Research
Genealogical Websites


Getting Started

The Enoch Pratt Free Library Central Library State Library Resource Center may be able to assist you with researching your family's history. Begin by gathering your family records, including:

  • bibles
  • marriage licenses
  • military records
  • birth and death certificates
  • other existing records

Genealogical resources at the Enoch Pratt Free Library Central Library State Library Resource Center are housed in three departments:


Researching your family at the Enoch Pratt Free Library

Genealogical Research at the Enoch Pratt Free Library State Library Resource Center - a useful introduction to the genealogical resources available here at the State Library Resource Center.

Maryland Department  (2nd floor, Annex)MD Dept vertical files 

What you will find in this department

U.S. census records for Maryland, Baltimore City Directories, and other genealogical resources pertaining to the State of Maryland

Guidelines and policies

There is no charge for research at this time.  For photocopies, there is a charge of 10 cents per page and a charge for postage and handling.  To mail photocopies, there is a $2.00 minimum charge for 7 pages or less; every page beyond 7 pages will cost $0.10 each ($0.20 for microform prints).  Maryland residents will be charged 6% sales tax.  Prepayment is not necessary; an invoice is included with any mailing of copies.

Monthly genealogy reference requests are limited to Baltimore City Directories, Federal Census for Maryland 1790-1930, Death Noticies/Obituaries, Naturalization Index/Petitions, and Passenger Lists for the Port of Baltimore, 1820-1948.  You may request up to five items total per month from all of the categories.  For more specific information about genealogical assistance from the staff of the Maryland Department, please go to Requesting Genealogy Research from Maryland Department Staff.

Web resources

A Guide to Genealogical Research in the Maryland Department -  A guide that will help you get started on your own genealogical research. Includes information about genealogical resources in the Maryland Department Collection, useful websites, and how the Maryland Department can help you with your genealogical research.

Indexes to Death and Marriages in Maryland Newspapers 


Periodicals Department  (1st floor, south side)paper2

What you will find in this department 

Specializes in looking up death notices and obituaries and maintains a useful collection of historic newspapers (both national and Maryland) available on microfilm or through databases.

Guidelines and policies

There is no charge for research or for emailed copies at this time. To mail physical copies, there is a $2.00 minimum charge for 7 pages or less; every page beyond 7 pages will cost $0.10 each plus tax ($0.20 for microform prints).   Prepayment is not necessary; an invoice will be sent to you. All checks or money orders should be made out to the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Monthly genealogy reference requests in the Periodicals Department are limited to death notices, obituaries, wedding announcements, and out-of-state directories. You may request up to a total of five items per month from these categories. If you submit more than five items, only the first five items on the list will be researched. All other requests beyond the five items will have to be resubmitted the next month. To search for information in the newspapers in our collection, we will need the exact month, day and year of death and/or burial, as well as the last known residence or the place of burial. Sometimes, this information can be found in the Social Security Death Index. We will check the appropriate newspapers five days around the date supplied. For more specific information about genealogical assistance from the staff of the Periodicals Department, please go to Genealogy Request Guidelines.

Web resources

A Guide to Genealogical Research in the Periodicals Department 

Newspapers - current and historical newspapers maintained by the Periodicals Department.

Other Genealogical Resources in the Periodicals Department 


Social Science and History Department  (1st floor, north side) 

Map Research


What you will find in this department

Basic guides to researching your family history, general  genealogical directories, genealogical resources for other states, or old maps for locations other than Maryland

Guidelines and policies

There is no charge for for emailed copies at this time. To mail physical copies, there is a $2.00 minimum charge for 7 pages or less; every page beyond 7 pages will cost $0.10 each plus tax ($0.20 for microform prints). Prepayment is not necessary; an invoice will be sent to you. All checks or money orders should be made out to the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Although we do not perform individual genealogical research, staff in SSH will assist customers with general guides for researching family history as well as provide guidance in using appropriate electronic databases and web sites for research. Department staff members provide assistance in locating and using our various genealogical print resources. SSH staff will also help genealogical researchers in using the resources of our general map collection.


Other Web Guides on Genealogical Research

African American Genealogy - includes information on how African American genealogy differs from genealogy for other ethnic backgrounds, information on how to find records and documents and where to go to get started.

Determining Soundex Codes (1:16 min.) - Use this video tutorial to determine the soundex code for last names.

Locating Passenger Arrival Information at the Port of Baltimore (3:50 min.) - This video tutorial will provide you with basic instruction in finding immigrant arrival information at the Port of Baltimore using microfilm held in the Maryland Department.

Preserving Your Family History - The photographs, letters, documents, and newspaper clippings that you cherish today could be even more valuable for generations to come. Handling them correctly now will help perserve your family history for the future.



Accessible outside of the library, using your Pratt library card:

America's Obituaries and Death Notices - collection of newspaper obituaries and death notices from around the United States. Each obituary or death notice is indexed by the name of the deceased person, to make searching easier and more precise. In addition, the text of each obituary or death notice is searchable, making it easy to find just what you're looking for using a place of residence, occupation, names of family members, or other personal information.

Baltimore Afro-American - The Baltimore Afro-American was one of the most widely circulated African American newspapers. The paper's contributors have included writer Langston Hughes, intellectual J. Sunders Redding, artist Romare Beardon, and sports editor Sam Lacy.

Baltimore Sun Historical Archive - contains issues of the Baltimore Sun from May 1837 up to February 1901.The database is easy to search and contains images of the actual Sun Paper as it appeared on the date of publication.

Biography and Genealogy Master Index (BGMI) - comprehensive index to more than 10 million biographical sketches in over 1000 current and retrospective biographical dictionaries, covering both contemporary and historical figures throughout the world. Each citation sites the name, birth, and death dates as well as a complete citation for all references.

Heritage Quest - includes over 25,000 family and local histories as well as the Federal U.S. Census from 1790 through 1930. Additionally, this database allows you to search Periodical Source Index (PERSI), which covers genealogy and history periodicals, the Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, which identifies more than 80,000 American military, naval, and marine officers and enlisted men and The Freedmen's Bank Records, which documents more than 70,000 bank depositors and their dependants.

Historical Newspapers - offers the original news articles exactly as they appeared to the original readers decades ago. The articles are PDF images that can be downloaded, printed or emailed.

This database includes the following newspapers:

  • Chicago Tribune - 1849 - forward
  • Chicago Defender - 1905 - forward
  • The Christian Science Monitor - 1908 - forward
  • The New York Times - 1851 - forward
  • The Wall Street Journal - 1889 - forward
  • The Washington Post - 1877 - forward

These are available individually or in cross-searchable collections.

Only accessible in Pratt Library locations:

Ancestry Library Edition - provides instant access to a wide range of unique resources for genealogical and historical research. With more than 1.5 billion names in over 4,000 databases, Ancestry Library Edition includes records from the United States Census; military records; court, land, and probate records; vital and church records; directories; passenger lists and more. These collections are continuously expanding, with new content added every business day.


Genealogical WebsitesFamily Tree - major Internet site with numerous databases, many of them free.

Castle Garden - for immigrants arriving in New York from 1830 to 1891, Castle Garden served as the disembarkation point. This site offers free access to an extraordinary database of information on 10 million immigrants who came to America through Castle Garden.

Cyndi's List - boasting more than 250,000 links and visited by an estimated 2 million people each month, this site is a necessary stop on any genealogical search.

Ellis Island - This site functions as a database of immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924. In most cases, after locating an immigrant, the original ship's manifest may be viewed as well as an image of the ship along with its history.

Family History Internet Genealogy Service - This database is a link with the vast genealogical resources of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Included is information on over 360 million surnames, as well as a catalog for the Family History LIbrary and a database to locate the nearest Family History Center.

Library of Congress Local History & Genealogy Reading Room - a guide to the genealogical resources available at the Library of Congress, as well as a list of Internet sites.

National Archives Genealogy Page - a guide to the resources of the National Archives, both online and at different physical locations around the country.

Royal Genealogical Data - Searchable database on European royalty from ancient times to the present.

Social Security Death Index - The Social Security Death Index provides access to birth and death date information for millions of deceased individuals with Social Security numbers whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration. Birth years for individuals included range from 1875 to last year.

USGenWeb Project - If you've already pinpointed where your American ancestor lived, this site can help further. USGenWeb features state and county information such as land transfers, wills, and marriage records, transcribed by volunteers. WorldGenWeb is the corresponding site for international genealogy.


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