Baltimore City Archives

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The Baltimore City Archives is the official municipal archives for the City of Baltimore, Maryland. It houses records from city offices such as the Mayor's Office and City Council as well as records of national historical interest such as the War of 1812 papers. Recent acquisitions include Provident Hospital and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra records.






2615 Mathews Street Baltimore, MD 21218-4705

Some mapping services may require using 601 East 27th Street, Baltimore, MD 21211. If so, note that the entrance is around the corner on Mathews. The building does not currently have a sign indicating that it is the Baltimore City Archives. Instead, there is a sign that reads Southern Steel Shelving Company.





Schedule & hours

9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. M-F by appointment only

Working language(s)



From Baltimore’s Inner Harbor:

Follow Calvert Street north.

Right at 28th Street.

Right at Mathews Street.

Follow Mathews Street to the end. Archives building will be on the left.

From Annapolis and the Eastern Shore:

U.S. 50/301 West to I – 97 North to I – 695 West.

Exit 7B MD-295/Balt-Wash Pkwy to Baltimore.

Right on Pratt Street.

Left on Calvert Street.

Right at 28th Street.

Right on Mathews Street.

Follow Mathews Street to the end. Archives building will be on the left.

From Washington, DC:

U.S. 50/301 East to I – 97 North to I – 695 West.

Take exit 7B MD-295/Balt-Wash Pkwy into Baltimore.

Right on Pratt Street.

Left on Calvert Street.

Right at 28th Street.

Right on Mathews Street.

Follow Mathews Street to the end. Archives building will be on the left.


Description of holdings

The Baltimore City Archives holds the official records of the city including over 33,000 cubic feet of records from the Mayor's Office, City Council, and other city departments and offices as well as records of national interest including the War of 1812 Papers. Recent acquisitions include Provident Hospital and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra records.

History of the archive

Caring for Baltimore City records has been mandated by the city charter since 1796. The actual Bureau of Archives, under the Department of Legislative Reference, was created in 1927. During the depression, workers with the WPA's Historical Records Survey created a complete index of records in the archives, which is still one of the tools utilized to find records today. The position of City Archivist was created in the 1970s when a resurgence of interest in the city's past coincided with the bicentennial of the nation. City Archivists since the creation of the position include Richard Cox, William LeFurgy, Thomas Hollowack, Rebecca Gunby, and the current acting City Archivist, Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse. The last location of the archives before its recent move to the Waverly neighborhood was 2165 Druid Park Drive.

Catalogues & finding aids

Records are currently being added into the Guide to Government Records. Other online resources include the WPA-HRS Card Index and William LeFurgy's The Records of a City: A Guide to the Baltimore City Archives. For a more comprehensive description on how to do research in the Baltimore City Archives, visit the Guide to Research in the Public Records of Baltimore City page of the Baltimore City Archives website.

Languages of materials


Restrictions & difficulties

Classified material

Inaccessible material

Future of the archive

The Baltimore City Archives came under the wing of the Maryland State Archives in 2009 under a 5 year Memo of Understanding with the Baltimore City Government. Currently, projects are underway to inventory the material in the warehouse, get collection descriptions online, and expand online presence by updating and expanding the functionality of the website as well as using Web 2.0 tools to bring the collections of the Archives to a broader public.

Research procedures


Researchers must present photo ID upon arrival and upon request by staff of the Baltimore City Archives or the Maryland State Archives. Daily registration requires presenting photo ID and signing the daily register, including name and arrival time.

First visit

When registering for the first time (and upon annual renewal) researchers must bring and present two forms of ID, including one official photo ID such as a driver's license/state ID card, passport, student ID, or other officially issued identification cards and a second confirming ID such as a library card, credit card, utility bill, insurance card, vehicle registration, etc. One of these IDs must have current residential information and one must have a signature. The information on the registration form is subject to verification against ID presented at each visit. Personally identifying information shall be kept secure at the Archives and will not be provided to third parties, except for officials acting under appropriate legal authority.

The registration form must be completed before access is granted to the search room.

Permitted and prohibited items

  • Permitted: Paper for research, #1 or #2 pencils, laptop computers (no bags), and cameras (video or still, digital or film), cell phones (although extensive conversation should be conducted outside the search room).
  • Prohibited: Food, beverages and beverage containers (including baby bottles, "sippy" cups, and other non-spillable containers), pens, permanent markers, Post-It notes, carbon paper, flatbed or handheld scanners, USB drives for insertion into Archive computers, camera or video lights, coats, jackets, sweaters with pockets, hats, briefcases, bags or purses, backpacks, belt pouches, umbrellas, boxes, bound notebooks or folders.

Document ordering

Pull slips must be completed for all records using the Guide to Government Records.

Ordering classified material

Rare books and manuscripts may only be used with the approval of the City Archivist.

Document delivery

No more than three records may be used at a research desk at one time; archivists have the right to withhold records if the desk space is so crowded as to interfere with the safe handling of the records. All material must be used on a desk or table, and must be maintained in the EXACT arrangement in which they are received. Records may only be used by the researcher who requested them; they may not be given to other researchers in the room. When finished, researchers are responsible for returning materials to the reference archivist. The pull slip MUST be returned with the item.

Document Handling

All materials must be handled with the greatest of care. Records may not be placed on the floor. Paper must be handled gently with two hands, and held at the edges whenever possible. Materials MUST NOT be marked upon, altered, folded, traced, or handled in any way likely to result in damage. Archivists may require researchers to wear gloves, which are available upon request, when handling materials. Researchers must wash their hands before handling any materials. Documents and volumes must lie flat on the table: they may not be propped upon other books, records, the edge of the workspace or held in the researcher's lap.

Photocopying, scanning, photography

Photocopying is not available to the public. Archives staff will scan requested materials and send them via e-mail in .pdf format at a suggested price of $35 for first 100 pages ($0.35 a page) and $50 for over 100 pages. Scanning can take up to one week. Non-flash photography is permitted for personal, non-commercial use. Documents may only be photographed while lying horizontally on the table or supported with a book cradle. Patrons may not stand on furniture to take photographs.

Key forms

To visit the archives, researchers need to request an appointment by calling or filling out the Research Appointment Request Form.

All researchers must fill out the Researcher Registration Form before being allowed access to the search room.

Key individuals

Archives staff

  • Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse is the current acting Baltimore City Archivist as well as the Maryland State Archivist.
  • Dr. Rob Schoeberlein is the Deputy City Archivist.
  • Tony Roberts is the City Records Manager.


(scholars who are familiar with this archive)


(published works based on research at this archive)



No food is allowed in the Archives search room.


Personal possessions are not allowed in the search room and are to be stored in a locker as directed by the Archives staff. The belongings placed in lockers are stored at the researchers' own risk: the Baltimore City Archives is not responsible for personal property lost or stolen at its facility.


The Archives has a washroom available to researchers who are approved to be in the search room.

Internet access

Internet resources and email may be accessed on search room computers made available for researchers. While researchers can bring laptops for use in research, they will not be able to connect to the internet on personal laptops.


The Baltimore City Archives has received an NHPRC grant to "survey, appraise, and continue to arrange and describe the historical records of the city." The City of Baltimore also supports some of the functions of the Archives, and the BCA administers a grant from Carnegie Mellon to process the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Record Collection.

See also

Baltimore City Archives Website

Baltimore City Archives Flickr Photostream

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