Before coming to the library, try to identify facts, such as the spelling of names, relationships and dates. Talk to your relatives to see if they can provide any information you can use, perhaps in family bibles or previously researched family history.
You will want to know the following before you contact the library:
Individual Family Histories
Though not generally collected, there are a few hundred family histories in the Maryland Department. Most of these works are non-circulating; however, photocopying is permitted from all sources.
County Specific Books
Though the Maryland Department attempts to get many statewide resources, available information varies by county.
The following are some of the county-based genealogical resources in the Maryland Department:
Newspapers are a rich source of information for family research. You can find obituaries, death notices, marriage and birth announcements, and legal notices. Social and political events, disasters, and ship arrivals and departures may identify ancestors. Even advertisements provide valuable information on family businesses. The Maryland Department receives 23 subscriptions to Maryland newspapers and holds some historic newspapers. However, the Library’s Periodicals Department houses most of our historic papers.
Biography, Query and Vertical Files
These files contain hundreds of thousands of cards that will direct you to sources in various formats, both in the Maryland Department and in other departments of the Library.
Maps can provide valuable clues when tracking ancestors. The Maryland Department's map collection includes over 2000 maps, dating from 1630-present. Maps show neighborhoods, businesses and the distance from home to a place of work or worship. In Baltimore City, 19th century street maps identify ward numbers necessary in locating census enumerations. County maps show election districts for the same purpose.
Many Maryland county atlases, published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, identify landowners, the approximate boundaries of their property, and election districts.
Sanborn fire insurance maps show characteristics like house numbers, names of businesses and water and sewer lines. They are available in the Department on microfilm, or through the Library’s databases. Our collection cover volumes produced from 1890 - the early 1980s for Maryland.
Genealogy/Family History Resources at the Enoch Pratt Free Library
This page provides a description of services, resources, and guidelines for several departments at the Central Library of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, including the Maryland Department.
State Library Resource Center Web Guides
Library subject specialists created these guides to direct users to informative websites on a variety of topics. Extensive genealogical information will be found in the Biography & Genealogy, and the Maryland & Baltimore categories.
The Library subscribes to many useful databases, that you can access with a Pratt Library card. Those useful to genealogists include:
As the State Library Resource Center, specialists are available to conduct basic genealogy training for library systems, organizations, and the public. Maryland Department librarians are eager to assist the public or other librarians with the materials mentioned above. The staff are happy to help. Come in anytime the Central Library is open -- no appointment necessary.
If you are interested in more help or have questions, please e-mail us through our Ask-A-Librarian service, call (410) 396-5468, or you can write to us at:
Enoch Pratt Free Library
State Library Resource Center
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201