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30 January 2019

CGS Library Collections: Maryland

An occasional series highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog. Our catalog is also included in WorldCat.

"George Washington Resigning His Commission"
from Tidewater Maryland
The CGS Library has ten and a half shelves of material on the State of Maryland plus a few books devoted to the District of Columbia. This section starts with four sets of journals including:

·         Maryland Historical Magazine 1973 – 1989
·         Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin 1969 – 2008
·         Maryland Genealogical Journal 2008 – present, and
·         Maryland & Delaware Genealogist 1959 – 1990.

The first set of books I looked at was the Maryland Account Book series, a vast collection of probate records compiled by Annie Walker Burns and indexed by Margaret Griffith. We hold volumes 1-3 and 15-27. What impressed me about these books is that each appears to have been typed by Annie. Our set looks like a carbon copy (some of our younger members may need to look that up to understand the significance. When I learned to type I used carbon paper on occasion).

Next to pique my interest was Old Maryland Families, a 5-by-7-inch book in landscape mode, which is unusual but made sense for this text because it consists of family trees. Described as “A Collection of Charts Compiled from Public Records, Wills, Family Bibles, Tomb Inscriptions, and Other Original Sources,” it was written by Henrietta E. Bromwell and published in 1916. What is exceptional about these family trees is that they capture not just important dates but present a succinct narrative for each person on the tree.
The family trees in Old Maryland Families include short narratives on each entry
White Maryland Runaways is a book you may not wish to find your ancestor in. Author Joseph Lee Boyle has compiled a vast collection of news clippings and historical information about white Europeans who came to the United States in colonial times as indentured servants, political exiles, or convicts. We have two volumes of White Maryland Runaways: "When Drunk is Very Bold" (published 2011) spans the period 1763-1769, and "Drinks Hard, and Swears Much" (published 2010) covers the years 1770-1774.

The leather cover on The Founders of
Maryland feels good
There are sixteen volumes of Maryland Calendar of Wills. Volume One covers the period 1635 to 1685 and was published in 1904.  Anyone who has struggled through attempting to transcribe an old will would appreciate this volume. It presents the salient information from each original document in a clear and succinct narrative and uses bold and large point sizes to help the reader quickly glean the essence of each will.

The oldest Maryland book I found was The Founders of Maryland by Rev. Edward Neill, published in 1876. This book is bound in real leather and its feel reminded me of my confirmation prayer book. The preface explains that “the object of this little book, is to state facts, which had become obscured or forgotten, concerning the first European settlers on the shores of the Potomac River, and Chesapeake Bay.” I would like to find an ancestor mentioned in this book but that's unlikely in my case.

One last book for Maryland is Tidewater Maryland by Paul Wilstach, first published in 1931. What is unique about this book is that every right-hand page has a different headline. Each topic is provocative. For example, page 113 is headed “Head of Elk”;  p. 123,  “A Bully and A Terror”; p. 127, “A Fairy Queen”; p. 133, “Cradle of the Episcopal Church.” I’ve never seen this in any other book.

The pleasure of seeing, feeling, and smelling these old treasures is a joy. I dread the day when all of this will be digitized and obscured by a slick computer monitor. You should plan a trip to our library and savor the experience.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

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