Historic Maps and Maryland Slavery Research

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. The Interactive Maps are 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.

Isaac Scaggs
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.

Isaac Scaags

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 the rootsweb website. (https://home.rootsweb.com/)


Ames Ames (an old name no longer in use)
Avice Avice
Avis Avice
Chas. Charles
Elenor Eleanor
Elisabeth Elizabeth
Eliz. Elizabeth
Elizth Elizabeth
Eliza. Elizabeth note punctuation
Eliza: Elizabeth note punctuation
Eliza Eliza note lack of punctuation = literally Eliza
Ellenor Eleanor
Ellinor Eleanor
Fanny Fanny as written
Geo. George
Gul. William short for Latin Gulielmus
Guliel William short for Latin Gulielmus
Han. Hannah
Hanna Hannah
Hannah Hannah
Hen. Henry
Hy. Henry
Ioh. John I = J, so Ioh. = Joh.
Jac. James Latin Jacobus
Jacob Jacob as written
Jacobus James Latin Jacobus
Jas. James
Jas James
Jer. Jeremiah
Joh. John
Jo. John
Jone Joan
Jno. John
Jon. Jonathan
Jona Jonathan
Jos. Joseph
Josh. Joshua
Josh Josiah
Marg. Margaret
Mich. Michael
Micls Michael
Nich. Nicholas
Nics Nicholas
Ric. Richard
Rich. Richard
Sar. Sarah
Theo. Theodore
Tho. Thomas
Thos. Thomas
Willm. William
Wm. William
Zach. Zacharius

Maps and Paths Followed by Fugitives Heading North and 19th Century Maps

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                                        1789
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

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