Guide to the Records of Beneath the Underground:
The Flight to Freedom and the Communities of Antebellum Maryland
A fundamental objective of Beneath the Underground is to explore the legacy of the Underground Railroad with the primary documents available at the Maryland State Archives. The purpose of this guide is to help website visitors understand the usefulness and history of the records mined for this project, as well as, to give insight into our research methodology.
Once you have been able to carve out a subject's general background through the preceding sources, you may want to familiarize yourself with the Maryland area in which the individual lived. Beneath the Underground provides an Interactive Map Guide section composed of digital reproductions of several cartographic landscapes of the entire state and individual counties. These maps allow the researcher to search by name for landowners, plantations, and individuals. If the name on the map is associated with the extant research, the researcher will be instantly linked to the site associated material whether the source was a newspaper article, case study, census record or any of a number of other primary source series.
MSA SC 5496-15288
Slave Owner, Prince George's County, Maryland
For example, when you go to the home page of our interactive map guide shown above and enter the name Isaac Scaggs in the box below the following description,Enter the place name or individual's name you wish to search for, you will first be taken to a listing of three references of Scaags found in the Interactive search engine. Let's say the Isaac Scaags you are looking for is in Prince George's County. The second reference fits the bill and the link associated with it will take you directly to the spot on the Martenet map where this Isaac Scaags is referenced. Prince George's County District 1. Simon J. Martenet, Martenet's Atlas of Maryland, 1861, Library of Congress, MSA SC 1213-1-118
Scaggs, Isaac (occurrence #1)
If you then click on the box surrounding Isaac Scaags you will go to the page listing all related case studies connected to this property, namely Isaac Scaags and the enslaved Blacks about whom he placed three runaway slave ads: Adam and Maria Smith, and Dall, Lem, Bill and Ben.
Using the Beneath the Underground Railroad Interactive Map Guide, therefore, brings all the documentary material together in a geographic framework.
A Hint to Use of this Website
Remember as you search that spelling can be an issue. Abbreviations were sometimes used by record keepers in capturing facts which can necessitate the consideration of a variety of choices when entering sought after names in the Beneath The Underground database search engine. One entry for William Y. Day is entered as Wm. Y. Day; Wm. will retrieve only Wm. so continuing to enter William or Will would not return this entry. Abbreviations for Johnson can include Jo. or Joh. It is wise to note that misspellings may also occur simply because names are misheard or mispronounced. Here is a listing of abbreviations for some commonly used names taken from FreeReg.com, http://freereg.rootsweb.com/.
VARIOUS NAME ABBREVIATIONS
|Ames||Ames||(an old name no longer in use)|
|Eliza||Eliza||note lack of punctuation = literally Eliza|
|Gul.||William||short for Latin Gulielmus|
|Guliel||William||short for Latin Gulielmus|
|Ioh.||John||I = J, so Ioh. = Joh.|
As much as interest has swelled regarding participants in the Underground Railroad, there has been an equal passion to identify the paths that were, perhaps, most often followed by fugitives heading north. The centerpiece of the Archives' geographical study of the Maryland landscape is the presentation of 19th century maps by various cartographers such as Simon J. Martenet, J.C. Sidney, J. H.Colton, and J. G. Strong from the Huntingfield and Library of Congress Collections of the Maryland State Archives. An ongoing effort to link case studies to the sites where the person, place or events interacted in the history of assisted flight. The interactive program in development allows the user to click on the name of the person place or thing on the actual map at which point they will beconnected to the case study or studies associated with that location.For example, clicking on the name of Prince George's County landowner, Isaac Skaggs, MSA SC 5496-15288, on the Prince George's County District 1 section of the Simon J. Martenet, Martenet's Atlas of Maryland, 1861, Library of Congress, MSA SC 1213-1-118 will lead the user to an intermediate page on which all related case studies and scanned documents are listed including Scaggs' own case study, those of the two individuals, Adam and Maria Smith, for whom he placed runaway slave ads, and the two runaway slave ads themselves. Comparing results from innumerable other ads may over time reveal similar destinations and names, thereby uncovering definable trails that were used by Blacks and individuals who, like Harriet Tubman, may also have assisted multiple fugitives. At the time of this report Archives staff has completed implementation of interactive mapping for Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Washington County and initiated the program for Frederick and Baltimore County.
Plotting sites as population clusters on interactive maps enhances our ability to “read” the landscape in the way that fugitives may have understood it, and deal with more theoretical concerns such as, “How could one get out, and by what route?” The historiography of slave culture and community is full of references to “nearby plantations” or “communities of free blacks” and the benefit that such spatial arrangements brought to the experience of enslavement. By directly linking narrative case studies to rare, contemporary cadastral maps, we have married the geography to the biography. The following are examples of some of the linkages already discovered and presented on the interactive maps which can be viewed by using aaco and aaco# as the userid and password, where necessary:
Thomas Clagett - http://slavery.msa.maryland.gov/html/mapped_images/pgd3.html?title0=Clagett%2C%20T.&occurrence0=0
Edmund B. Duval - http://slavery.msa.maryland.gov/html/mapped_images/pgd1.html?title0=Duval%2C%20Edmund&occurrence0=0
Edward Gorsuch - http://slavery.msa.maryland.gov/html/mapped_images/bcd8.html?title0=Gorsuch%2C%20Edward&occurrence0=0
Maryland County Codes and Incorporation Dates
Maryland was founded in 1634 when 140 European immigrants disembarked from two ships entitled the Ark and the Dove. Over the course of the next 230 years of slavery's existence in Maryland, 22 counties were formed, defining the boundaries of one of the 13 original colonies. In certain databases, users will find the following abbreviations used for those counties. Note that Wicomico is excluded as it was not incorporated until 1867 from Somerset and Worcester county. The table below shows the corresponding full names of the 22 counties.
| Allegany County
|Anne Arundel County 1650||AA|
|Baltimore County 1659||BA|
|Baltimore City 1851||BC|
|Caroline County 1773||CA|
|Cecil County 1674||CE|
|Charles County 1658||CH|
|Carroll County 1837||CR|
|Calvert County 1654||CV|
|Dorchester County 1669||DO|
|Frederick County 1748||FR|
|Harford County 1773||HA|
|Howard County 1851||HO|
|Kent County 1642||KE|
|Montgomery County 1776||MO|
|Prince George’s County 1695||PG|
|Queen Anne’s County 1706||QA|
|St. Mary’s County 1637||SM|
|Somerset County 1666||SO|
|Talbot County 1662||TA|
|Washington County 1776||WA|
|Worcester County 1742||WO|