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Although Maryland was established as a refuge for Roman Catholics from England (under the Act of Toleration, 1649 to 1654), most early settlers were Protestant. Members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) were in the Chesapeake Bay area as early as 1657. The Anglican Church was established as the official church in 1692 and continued as such until 1776.
From 1718 to 1776 Catholics and Quakers were disenfranchised, and few of their pre-Revolutionary records exist. Surviving records of Jesuit Fathers are deposited at the Archives of the Georgetown University Library. University Archivist, Lynn Conway, assists with this collection. Contact: email@example.com
During the 19th century, Methodism was the dominant Protestant religion in Maryland. Other large groups in Maryland were the Roman Catholic, Protestant Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches.
The Maryland Historical Society has about 200 indexed transcripts of church records and some original records for various denominations. The Society is also the repository for the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and has about 70,000 items from 1676 to 1900. The Society also has the Norris Harris Church Register File. This is a card index to many of the births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, and other information in the church registers of the collection.
The Maryland State Archives
The Archives has published an online guide, see: Guide to Maryland Religious Institutions: Featuring the Collections of the Maryland State Archives. Many original records they hold have been digitized and are viewable on their website.
Protestant Episcopal. An almost complete set of older parish records from the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Washington (southern and western shore) and from the Diocese of Easton (eastern shore). The archives has some original records from the Diocese of Maryland and microfilm copies of parish records for most of Maryland.
Roman Catholic. A large number of microfilmed records from the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Friends (Quaker). Microfilm copies of the older records of nearly all Friends monthly meetings and some of the original records. This includes the records of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting in Homewood; Philadelphia Yearly Meetings of the Eastern Shore; and meetings under the now defunct Virginia Yearly Meeting. These are described and listed in:
- Jacobsen, Phebe R. Quaker Records in Maryland. Annapolis, Md.: Hall of Records Commission, 1966. FHL Collection 975.2 B4ma no. 14 Page 9 contains a map showing the general location of some Maryland monthly meetings.
To learn more about the history of the Baltimore Yearly Meetings, see:
- Forbush, Bliss. A History of Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends: Three Hundred Years of Quakerism in Maryland, Virginia, the District of Colombia, and Central Pennsylvania. Sandy Spring, Maryland: Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1972. FHL Collection 975.2 K2f. Also on microfiche FHL Collection 6049733. This book contains a map showing the general location of the early monthly meetings within this yearly meeting.
Other Protestants. The Baltimore and Peninsula Conferences of the United Methodist Church, and records from some Baptist, Lutheran, Evangelical, and Presbyterian churches. Many of these records are indexed.
The Family History Library has microfilm copies of some Protestant Episcopal records from the Maryland Historical Society. The library also has Friends' records for the Cecil Monthly Meeting microfilmed at Swarthmore College. The library has microfilm copies of records at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, and has copies of published histories for some denominations, such as the Protestant Episcopal, Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran, and Baptist churches.
An important guide produced by the Genealogical Council of Maryland is:
- Kanley, Edna A., comp. Directory of Maryland Church Records. One volume in two parts. Silver Spring, Maryland: Family Line Publications, 1987. FHL Collection 975.2 K24k. This book gives the names and addresses of about 2,600 Maryland churches and often mentions the years that the church operated, the years that records exist, and the location of the original records or copies.
To learn about the ministers and priests who served in Maryland, see:
- Kanely, Edna Agatha. Directory of Ministers and the Maryland Churches They Served, 1634-1990, 2 vols. Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1991. FHL Collection 975.2 K2k. This book lists several thousand ministers and priests, giving birth and death dates, denomination served, and location and dates served. The source of the information is also given.
Some denominations have collected their records into denominational repositories, others have not. The following addresses may be helpful in locating church records.
Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware
10255 Old Columbia
Columbia, MD 21046
Telephone: 800-466-5290 + 0 or 410-667-9169
E-mail: See website - varies by department
United Baptist Missionary Convention
940 Madison Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21201
Church of England (Anglican, Protestant Episcopal)
P.O. Box 2247
Austin, TX 78768
Some Protestant Episcopal records are described in:
- Inventory of the Church Archives of Maryland: Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. Baltimore, Maryland: Historical Records Survey, 1940. FHL Collection 975.2 K2h
If your ancestor was a minister in Colonial Maryland, see:
- Frederick Lewis Weis's The Colonial Clergy of Maryland, Delaware, and Georgia, is an alphabetical listing of the clergy in Delaware from 1638-1776, and includes names, dates, and places. A copy of the book is located in the FHL Collection. For a copy nearest you, check WorldCat.
For a history of the Anglican church and background information on the original thirty Anglican parishes, see:
- Middleton, Canon Arthur Pierce. Anglican Maryland, 1692-1792. Virginia Beach, Va.: The Donning Company/Publishers, 1992. FHL Collection 975.2 K2mi
Archives of the Delaware-Maryland Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
700 Light St.
Towson, MD 21204-7570
Lutheran Historical Society of the Mid-Atlantic
United Methodist Historical Society
Lovely Lane Museum Library
2200 St. Paul Street
Baltimore, MD 21218-5897
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Department of History
425 Lombard Street Philadelphia, PA 19147-1516
Send queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of Maryland's Catholic Church records are maintained by two archdioceses and a diocese that cover the state.
Sacramental records include:
- Baptism: dates of birth and baptism; name of child; names of parents, sponsors (godparents), and the name of priest.
- Marriage: date of marriage; name of persons being married and where they are from; parents names; witnesses; and name of officiating priest.
- First Communion and Confirmation: date of first communion or confirmation; name of child and officiating cleric.
Sacramental records in the Archdiocese of Baltimore are not public records. Records that are 70 years old or less are sealed to the public. No restrictions apply to records of First Communion, Confrimation, Marriage, Death, Interment or Burial.
Archdiocese of Washington, DC
The Archdiocese of Washington was seperated from the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1939 and its records do not begin until that time. In 1939 it only included the District of Columbia. The five Maryland counties were added in 1948. Sacramental records are housed in the parish where the event took place and are not open to the public. A Sacramental Request Form should be filled out and sent to the parish. Parish addresses can be found at the Archdiocese of Washington website.
Diocese of Wilmington
The Diocese of Wilmington was established in March of 1868. It included the nine Eastern Shore Maryland counties at its creation. The archive is located at 8 Old Church Road, Greenville, DE 19807. The mailing address is: PO Box 2030, Wilmington DE 19899. It is open on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The facility has one microfilm reader.
Archdiocese of Baltimore
The Archdiocese of Baltimore, established November 6, 1789, originally encompassed all of the thirteen colonies. It currently comprises Baltimore City and the counties of Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, and Washington.
The Associated Archives at St. Mary’s Seminary and University house the archived records for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, as well as, St. Mary's Seminary and University, and the Associated Sulpicians of the United States. Efforts to microfilm the sacramental registers of the parishes that comprise the Archdiocese of Baltimore have been undertaken twice in the past fifty-five years. The first attempt was made in 1954 at the request of the Archbishop Francis P. Keough. The Maryland State Archives made a second attempt beginning in 1977. A majority of the parishes participated in the first microfilming project. Less than half participated in the second. Microfilm copies of the registers microfilmed by the Maryland State Archives are available for researchers to work with at the Maryland State Archives, the Maryland Historical Society, and the Associated Archives at St. Mary’s Seminary and University. The sacramental registers microfilmed by the archdiocese are available for researchers to work with only at the Associated Archives at St. Mary's Seminary and University. Click here to see a list of the parishes that had their registers microfilmed.
Archives of Archdiocese of Baltimore
5400 Roland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 22120
Society of Friends (Quakers)
Society of Friends (Quakers)
The Maryland State Archives at http://www.msa.md.gov has many Quaker records.
The Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog lists church records under:
MARYLAND - CHURCH RECORDS
MARYLAND, [COUNTY] - CHURCH RECORDS
MARYLAND, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - CHURCH RECORDS
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