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.


Records include Census and Imprisonment Records

Census Records

The United States Census is collected every ten years. The census for 1830 and 1840 only lists the head of household by name. There are numerical values recorded for each individual, which fall under specific demographic categories (ex. Free Female 10-23, Slave Male 36-54). The population schedules of the U.S. Census for 1850 and 1860 list the names of each person in a given household. The census for these years also lists personal information about the individuals including but not limited to: gender, race, value of property and occupation. The slave schedule of the U.S. Census for 1850 and 1860 lists the names of slaveholders and the number of slaves in their possession in county districts in the state. Most census takers did not record slaves in a cumulative fashion rather each slave was counted with the number (1). The gender, age, and race of the slaves were recorded, but the names of the individual slaves were not. Maryland State Archives description of Census Records.

Please note:
This information was stripped with the intent of identifying and recording households containing blacks andmulattos. Since the census for 1830 and 1840 did not note whether the head of household was white or a person of color, users should not assume that information yielded from the record searches indicate an all black households, simply that enslaved or free blacks were living with the person listed as the head of household. Likewise, users should not assume that free blacks and mulattos found in the census for 1850 and 1860 were living in a free all black or mulatto household.

Census records can sometimes be very inaccurate with name spelling. Also, spelling and handwriting make the names harder to decipher for researchers reading the record. There will no doubt be mistakes on the part of researcher for the reasons listed above. Additionally, the term “illegible” is used for viewers of the site to note that there is an entry for the column but after consulting support staff, the researcher could not read what was entered in the original census.

Schedules Used From Census of 1830
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Allegany County, 1830, MSA SM61-81
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Anne Arundel County,1830, MSA SM61-82
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Baltimore County,1830, MSA SM61-84
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Cecil County, 1830, MSA SM61-87
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Charles County, 1830, MSA SM61-88
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Dorchester County,1830, MSA SM61-89
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Frederick County, 1830, MSA SM61-90
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Washington County,1830, MSA SM61-94

Schedules Used From Census of 1840
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Allegany County, 1840, MSA SM61-96
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Anne Arundel County, 1840, MSA SM61-97
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Baltimore County, 1840, MSA SM61-102
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Charles County, 1840, MSA SM61-108
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Frederick County, 1840, MSA SM61-110
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Prince George’s County MSA SM 61-114
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Somerset County, 1840, MSA SM61-117
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Washington County, 1840, MSA SM61-119

Population Schedules Used From Census of 1850
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Allegany County, 1850, MSA SM61-121
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Anne Arundel County, 1850, MSA SM61-122
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Baltimore County, 1850, MSA SM61-130,131
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Cecil County, 1850, MSA SM61-135
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Charles County, 1850, MSA SM61-136
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Dorchester County, 1850, MSA SM61-137
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Frederick County, 1850, MSA SM61-138,139
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Prince George’s County, 1850, MSA SM61-143
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Somerset County, 1850, MSA SM61-146
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Washington County, 1850, MSA SM61-148

Slave Schedules Used From Census of 1850
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Slaves, Allegany County, 1850, MSA SM61-155
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Slaves, Anne Arundel County, 1850, MSA SM61-156
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Slaves, Baltimore County, 1850, MSA SM61-158
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Slaves, Frederick County, 1850, MSA SM61-165
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Prince George’s County, 1850, MSA SM61-169
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Slaves, Somerset County, 1850, MSA SM61-175
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD Slaves, Washington County, 1850, MSA SM61-172

Population Schedules Used From Census of 1860
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Allegany County, 1860, MSA SM61-177
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Anne Arundel County, 1860, MSA SM61-178
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Baltimore County, 1860, MSA SM61-189 to 201
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Cecil County, 1860, MSA SM61-205
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) CharlesCounty, 1860, MSA SM61-206
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Dorchester County, 1860, MSA SM61-207
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Frederick County, 1860, MSA SM61-208
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Prince George’s County, 1860, MSA SM61-214
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Somerset County, 1860, MSA SM61-217
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Washington County, 1860, MSA SM61-219

Slave Schedules Used From Census of 1860
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Slaves, Allegany County, 1860, MSA SM61-225
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Slaves, Anne Arundel County, 1860, MSA SM61-226
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Slaves, Baltimore County, 1860, MSA SM61-228
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Slaves, Frederick County, 1860, MSA SM61-235
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Slaves, Prince George’s County, 1860, MSA SM61-240
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Slaves, Somerset County, 1860, MSA SM61-243
U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Slaves, Washington County, 1860, MSA SM61-244

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Imprisonment Records

Maryland State Archives Government Records
The records series the Archives has examined through the years of the two grants include the following, some exhaustively:

Slave Jail Records:
The Maryland State Archives houses the jail records from Baltimore City and County from 1827-1899. The Baltimore County docket from 1827-1832 lists persons arrested for an assortment of crimes, but for the purpose of this project, only runaway slaves were recorded. Beginning in 1831, a separate docket was created for runaways committed to the county jail. The following year, 1832, the county jail records were moved to the jurisdiction of Baltimore City. From 1832-1864, runaways were recorded in separate runaway dockets of the Baltimore City jail.

Baltimore County Jail (County Docket), 1827-1832, MSA C2052
Baltimore County Jail (Runaway Docket), 1831-1832, MSA C2063
Baltimore City and County Jail (Runaway Docket), 1832-1836, MSA C2065-1
Baltimore City Jail (Runaway Docket), 1836-1850, MSA C2065-2
Baltimore City Jail (Runaway Docket), 1850-1864, MSA C2065-3

Penitentiary Records:
The Maryland Penitentiary was the firststate sponsored prison. Prior to its establishment in 1811, criminals were housed in county jails and workhouses. The facility was designed to house both male and female prisoners who spent much of their time participating in hard and industrial labor. For this project only the names of prisoners who were charged for crimes related to or in opposition to the system of enslavement were recorded.

Please also note:
In the original prisoner records, the entries under the column entitled “Complexion” were based on the discretion of the person who originally recorded the prisoner’s description. It was determined by this project’s researchers that the term “Fair” was used to describe a white or Caucasian person as opposed to a more modern interpretation of light skin black or mulatto.

Maryland Penitentiary (Prisoners Record), 1811-1840, MSA S275-1
Maryland Penitentiary (Prisoners Record), 1811, 1826-1869, MSA S275-2


State Pardon Records
The office of the Secretary of State was created in 1837 to replace the Governor’s Council. The 1851 state constitution required the Secretary to keep and preserve all official acts and proceedings. Early official records include railroad charters, election returns, and state pardons. The information found in this series involves persons charged or imprisoned for crimes related to slavery.
Secretary of State (Pardon Record), 1845-1865, MSA S1108-2
Secretary of State (Pardon Docket), 1862-1869, MSA S1110-1

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