Using the Archives
The Archives is open Monday from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., or by appointment.
For more information or to make an appointment, you may contact our Archivist, Mary Klein, via email at or at the numbers given above.
Most of the manuscript and many of the printed materials are accessed through a card catalog indexing proper names and subjects. Uncatalogued items are arranged alphabetically by names or subjects.
The collection is only of incidental use for genealogical research. Only registers of defunct churches are kept in the Archives, and virtually all of these have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). For access to these microfilms, contact the Columbia Family History Center at (410)465-1642).
Originals or microfilms of many other Maryland parish registers are available through the Religious Records Program of the Maryland State Archives.
- Archives of the Episcopal Church (Austin, Texas)
- Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia
- General Theological Seminary
- Maryland Historical Society
- Religious Records Program of the Maryland State Archives
- Adams, Cheryl and Art Emerson, comp.
Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives: A Guide to Resources in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Washington, 1998.
- Hollowak, Thomas L., ed.
Baltimore's Past: A Directory of Historical Sources. Baltimore, 1995.
Overview of the Archives
In 1855 William Rollinson Whittingham, Bishop of Maryland, called for preservation of long-accumulating diocesan papers, and in 1860 a Records Committee was created to care for them. Independently, at least from 1840, the Reverend Ethan Allen, first Historiographer of the Diocese, was forming a great personal collection of papers relating to the Church from colonial times; this was purchased by the Diocese in 1869. The Archives were vastly augmented ten years later, when Bishop Whittingham bequeathed his voluminous and important collection of papers to the Diocese. Growth has continued, from official and private sources, and work on arranging and cataloging the collection began in 1960.
Scope of the Collection
The Maryland Diocesan Archives contains official records, manuscripts, and related materials concerning the Church of England in colonial Maryland and its successor, the Episcopal Church in Maryland and the District of Columbia, since the Revolution. The Diocese was divided in 1868 when the counties of Maryland's Eastern Shore became the Diocese of Easton. In 1895 the Diocese of Maryland was further divided; the District of Columbia and Montgomery, Prince George's, Charles and St. Mary's counties became the Diocese of Washington. The Dioceses of Easton and Washington have their own Archives, but the earlier history of the Church in those areas remains in the Maryland Diocesan Archives.
The Maryland Diocesan Archives contains over 300 linear feet of materials spanning the period 1676 to the present. The collections are strongest in the period 1730 to 1900. Materials covering the entire state and District of Columbia include official records, correspondence, minutes, and other records of the Diocese of Maryland and its bishops, clergy, churches, institutions, and organizations. These are augmented by colonial manuscripts, many colonial and later sermons, parish histories, registers of closed churches, biographical writings, family papers, educational materials and memorabilia. There are abundant materials describing the history of the Church of England (seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries), and the organization and development of the Episcopal Church since 1780. Holdings include much information about the social, political and economic history of the United States, including colonial law, the War of 1812, the Civil War, slavery, women's history, native Americans, and African Americans; church-state relations; and the westward expansion of the Episcopal Church. The Archives collection also documents relations with other denominations, particularly the Roman Catholic, Methodist, and Lutheran Churches, as well as the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Church of Jesus in Mexico, the Old Catholic Church in Europe, and the ecumenical movement. Foreign missions are documented with materials from Greece and the Near East (from 1826), Africa (from 1820), China (from 1835), Cuba from 1869), and Haiti (from 1861).
The archival and manuscript collections are supported by a small library of selected books, periodicals, newspapers, maps, and photographs. These collections are described below.
Description of the Collections
Manuscript and Archival Collections
The greater part of the archival collections are the papers of the first six Bishops of Maryland:
- Thomas John Claggett (1742-1816): over 1,000 items regarding local and parish history, official certificates, and other materials related to Claggett's ecclesiastical career from 1767 to 1816. The first Bishop of Maryland, he was the first Anglican bishop consecrated on American soil. These papers deal largely with the development and administration of the Church and Diocese after the Revolution, politics, social conditions, local and parish history, and other major topics. The Archives also houses the Bishop's mitre and 42 volumes from his library.
- James Kemp (1764-1827): over 2,000 items dating from 1784 to 1827, largely correspondence along with sermons, notes, and official papers. Topics covered include slavery, the Evangelical Episcopal Church, the War of 1812, and Federalist concerns.
- William Murray Stone (1779-1838): over 300 items, mostly dating from 1802-38, relating to parish affairs, Stone's episcopate, and family matters.
- William R. Whittingham (1805-79): More than 30,000 papers including private family correspondence, 1808-86; Whittingham's official correspondence and journals as Bishop of Maryland, 1840-1879; his minutes and notes on proceedings of the General Convention, 1832-77; sermons, clippings, pastoral letters, circulars, private diaries, and many other documents. The papers contain much material on church affairs throughout the United States, ca. 1823-79; Civil War troubles; relations with other denominations in this country and in Europe; missions, particularly in the Near East, Greece, and Cuba; educational enterprises; doctrinal controversies, and other topics. Much personal and biographical information includes Whittingham's early years as a clergyman in New York and New Jersey; his work as librarian and professor at General Theological Seminary in New York, and subsequently as a Trustee; editorial activities; involvement with the Sunday School Union; travels in Europe; and many other activities.
- William Pinkney (1810-83): over 800 items, including letters, sermons, addresses, pamphlets, and record books. Topics covered include canon law, organizational problems, relations with the Methodists, and Church affairs during the Civil War.
- William Paret (1826-1911): correspondence, circulars, pastoral letters, sermons, visitation notices, and other materials dealing with Church administration, missions, charities, rural church work among African Americans, and other topics.
Papers of Bishops
The Archives also contains official records, Journals, reports, minutes, correspondence, photographs, and other materials concerning the later Bishops of Maryland:
- John Gardner Murray (1857-1929)
- Edward Trail Helfenstein (1865-1947)
- Noble Cilley Powell (1891-1968)
- Harry Lee Doll (1903-84)
- David Keller Leighton, Sr. (b. 1922)
- Albert Theodore Eastman (b. 1928)
- and Charles Lindsay Longest (b. 1933).
In addition to papers of the Bishops of Maryland, the Archives contains significant materials relating to hundreds of Episcopalian bishops from other parts of the United States
Papers of Rectors
The Archives includes letters and official papers of innumerable clergymen from all parts of the United States, with particular emphasis on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Other Archival Collections & Family Papers
- Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore (from 1911)
- Corporation for the Relief of Widows and Children of Deceased Clergymen (1783-1989)
- Girls' Friendly Society (1892-1958)
- Hannah More Academy, Reisterstown, Md. (1834-1974)
- Maryland Society for Promoting Useful and Ornamental Knowledge (1798-1806)
- Protestant Episcopal Brotherhood (1856-1966)
- Women's Auxiliary (1926-68)
- Callister Papers (c. 1741-88): Correspondence and business records concerning mercantile, educational and social affairs on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
- Chase Papers (c. 1738-1855): Correspondence, estate papers, land records and legal proceedings pertaining to members of the Chase family of Maryland, notably the Rev. Thomas Chase (1700-79); Judge Samuel Chase (1741-1811); and members of the Caton, Carroll, Decatur, Pinkney, Ridout, and Townley families.
- Goldsborough Papers (1751-1879): Correspondence and legal papers concerning political, economic, church and family affairs of this Eastern Shore family, particularly Charles Goldsborough (1765-1834) Congressman and Governor; Judge Robert Goldsborough IV (1740-98); Senator Robert Henry Goldsborough (1779-1836); and clergymen Robert Lloyd Goldsborough (c. 1811-88) and Robert William Goldsborough (1800-57).
Books and Monographs
Printed materials include approximately 1300 volumes of books and several thousand pamphlets supplemented by printed ephemera such as circulars.
These materials span the period 1588 to the present. Subjects covered include general ecclesiastical history and doctrine, as well as the history of the Church of England, the Anglican Church in the American colonies, and the Episcopal Church since 1780; colonial and state law in Maryland; diocesan and parish histories; religious controversies; relations with the Roman Catholic and Old Catholic Churches; sermons, and works by or about American bishops and Maryland clergymen.
Periodicals and Newspapers
The Archives holds 28 titles and some current subscriptions, dating from 1819 to the present. Significant periodical holdings include the Washington Theological Repertory (1819-27); The True Catholic (1843-56) and its successor American Church Monthly 1857-58); The Maryland Churchman (1892-1913, 1918-58) and its successor The Communicator (1959 - 67, incomplete); Maryland Church News (1971-); Church Work (1885-89); and The Evergreen (1844 - 53). There are also convention journals for the dioceses of Maryland (1780 - date), Easton (1882 - date, incomplete) and Washington (1905-date, incomplete).
Photographs and Prints
The Archives holds a large number of photographs from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with some prints and engravings. Subjects include churches, church events, bishops and other clergy, lay people, and charitable and educational institutions.