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Special Collections

The Special Collections Department provides access to the Library's unique and historically significant documents, rare books, and ephemera (written or printed memorabilia). You can find manuscripts, prints, photographs, posters, postcards, greeting cards, 19th century travel books, the history of wine and beer, the history of printing and more.


Special Collections Department room

The Collection

This Department is a non-circulating, closed stack area of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, but visitors and researchers are welcome during all open hours. For research purposes appointments are strongly recommended, and are available by request during the Central Library’s hours.

Interested in visiting the Department? Read more about planning a visit and using the collections. The Department also offers photocopying and scanning services.

Resources and Finding Guides

Archives and Records of Maryland Organizations

Browse a collection of PDF finding guides to help you research archives and records of Maryland organizations.

  • Carroll County Historical Records (Collection dates 1864-1953) The collection offers court documents from Carroll County, Maryland, including legal papers, correspondence, as well as slavery and citizenship records.
  • English German School No. 3 and No. 5 (Collection dates 1876-1897) The collection contains ledgers, documents, and photographs of the early effort to provide a public education to elementary-aged children in Baltimore City.
  • Maryland Health Congress Records (Collection Dates 1939-1941) Documents pertaining to the impact of a national health bill (Wagner Bill) on the State of Maryland, including minutes of the 1st and 2nd Conferences, speeches, news clippings, and correspondence.
  • Maryland Kindergarten Collection (Collection Dates 1894-1954) This collection covers the creation and development of Kindergarten in Maryland. It included minutes, correspondence, publications, and legal documents of the organizations involved.
  • Wine and Food Society of Baltimore, Maryland, Ltd. (Collection Dates 1947-1991) The society held yearly dinners that celebrated the wine and food of particular cities or regions. The collection holds over 40 years of illustrated menus from the private dinners as well as its organizational documents.
  • Women's Club of Pikesville (Collection Dates 1936-1978) The collection documents the organization’s volunteer and charitable activities through its official records. It also shows the changing social issues that women addressed in their community during the period.
  • Women Suffrage in Maryland (Collection Dates 1884-1928) The materials in this collection document some of the events, publications, and people involved in the struggle for women’s suffrage in Maryland. It is largely the view of Emma Maddox Funck, a president of the Baltimore Suffrage Club, her correspondence and activities, along with legal materials and ephemera.

Enoch Pratt Free Library Archives

Find clippings, ephemera, writings, and more related to the life and career of Enoch Pratt.

  • Enoch Pratt Papers (Collection dates 1852-1896) Includes correspondence, ephemera and other items relating to the conception and creation of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. A number of Enoch Pratt’s personal items are included.
  • Lewis H. Steiner Papers (Collection Dates 1852-1896) The collection includes administrative papers and correspondence of the first librarian of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, which documents the daily operations and early decision making process of the institution.
  • Bernard C. Steiner Papers (Collection Dates 1892-1926), Bernard Steiner Ephemera - Oversize The papers and correspondence of the second library director, who oversaw an expansion of the library and its services, including mail-in ready reference and the growth of Baltimore's system of branch libraries.
  • Enoch Pratt Free Library: Photographs and Ephemera The collection consists of photographs, ephemera and articles related to both the First Enoch Pratt Free Central Library on Mulberry Street (pre-1932) and the new Central Library (1932). The collection combines a set of photographs of training classes (1928-1944) and the branches (1900-).
  • The Building Records Collection of the Enoch Pratt Free Library reflects the activities before, during, and after construction.
  • Enoch Pratt Free Library Centennial, 1986 This collection contains the records and events produced during the 1986 Centennial celebration of Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Other Collections

Use these finding guides to help you browse additional collections found in the Department.

Manuscripts and Personal Papers Use these finding guides to browse a collection of manuscripts and personal papers from influential figures like Edgar Allan Poe, Isabel Shipley Cunningham, Howard P. Lovecraft, and many more.

Maps, Ephemera and Sheet Music Find a wide collection of maps, ephemera collections, and sheet music. Collection highlights include greeting cards, Maryland sheet music, and almanacs.

Visual Materials Collections Use PDF guides to browse the Visual Materials Collections, including photographs, paintings, drawings, and print materials.

Edgar Allan Poe commemorative postcard, 1949

Edgar Allan Poe commemorative postcard detail

Special Collections flat files drawer showing war posters

War posters in flat files, Special Collections Department

Rights and Permissions

The Enoch Pratt Free Library/State Library Resource Center offers rights and permission services to many of the materials in its collections. Requires permissions to publish using the following steps.

First, mail, email, or fax a completed Image Request Form to Special Collections.

Then, you will receive a permission form and invoice that includes any relevant fees and the Library's Conditions for Use. Signing and returning this form indicates that you agree to follow the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Conditions for Use. Payment of all applicable fees must be received before orders are processed. Checks and money orders are to be made out to Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Turnaround time for original scanning or digital photography is 2-4 weeks from receipt of prepayment, for orders of existing images it is 1-2 weeks. The standard image provided is a 600 ppi TIF file; however resolutions may vary depending on the size of the original. Resolution will never be less than 300 ppi. Delivery will be made by email or ftp transfer at no additional cost. CD/DVDs sent through regular mail will require an additional fee.

If at any time you need help with this process, you can call the Special Collections Department at (443) 984-2451.

More Information
H. L. Mencken Room view with table, bookshelves, and window

H.L Mencken Room


The Mencken Room houses one of the most important H.L. Mencken collections in the world, including his manuscripts, personal library, and more.

More Information
Maryland Department entrance with sign and card catalog drawers inside

Maryland Department


The Maryland Department is a comprehensive collection of materials related to the state of Maryland.