Historical Society of Baltimore County

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Historical Society of Baltimore County
Logo of The Historical Society of Baltimore County
Logo of The Historical Society of Baltimore County
TypeHistorical Society
PurposeCollect, preserve, and interpret the history of Baltimore County, Maryland
Coordinates39°27′36″N 76°37′40″W / 39.4601°N 76.6278°W / 39.4601; -76.6278Coordinates: 39°27′36″N 76°37′40″W / 39.4601°N 76.6278°W / 39.4601; -76.6278
ServicesWeekly operating hours: Fridays: noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free for members; $5.00 for visitors. Free assistance for on site research. Fee-based research for off site inquiries.
Executive Director
Kathleen M. Barry, PhD
President, Board of Directors
Vicki Young
Vice-President, Board of Directors
Scott Batton
C.P.A., Treasurer
H. David Delluomo

The Historical Society of Baltimore County (HSBC) was founded in 1959 with the goal of preserving, interpreting, and illustrating the history of Baltimore County for the benefit of present and future generations of Marylanders, allowing individuals to find local and family history resources.[1][2] As the HSBC describes it, they "continually accomplish" their mission "through the production of presentations, lectures, workshops, entertaining educational publications, historical tours, and exhibits."[3] Centrally located in Cockeysville, Maryland, the Society operates out of the Agriculture Building, the former Baltimore County Almshouse,[4] which was built in 1872 and used to house the poor and mentally ill of Baltimore County until 1958.[5][6]

A nonprofit organization, the Society maintains a library and research facility. Since 1966, the Society has published History Trails, a county history journal which the Society defines as "semi-academic" and a "popular history publication."[7][8][9]

For fiscal years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, HSBC received a $12,000 operating grant from the Baltimore County Executive and Baltimore County Council, which are awarded to "organizations whose programs demonstrate significant impact on the quality of life of Baltimore County residents."[10] In 2018, an African American Heritage Preservation Program Grant workshop, for the Maryland Historical Trust, was held at the HSBC.[11]

The Almshouse Farm Site[edit]

The Almshouse circa 2008

Located on Baltimore’s County Home Property, the Historical Society’s campus comprises several buildings of various ages and states of repair. Chief of these is the Almshouse which houses the offices and library. Other buildings are the Pest house, Smokehouse, and Barn.

The Almshouse[edit]

Constructed of local limestone in 1872, the Almshouse was damaged by a fire in 1919 after which it was rebuilt. The building has been used in several different capacities since 1958 when modern methods of caring for the indigent dictated its closing as a poorhouse. The Historical Society and various county agencies have been located in the Almshouse since 1959. During the Cold War, the Almshouse was used as a fallout shelter; emergency supplies from that era still reside in the basement. The Almshouse was designated a Baltimore County Landmark in 1980.[12]

The Pest House in 2003

The Pest House[edit]

The Pest House (referring to pestilence) was used to quarantine residents who were ill. The two story building with a slate roof was built shortly after the Almshouse. The exterior is in reasonable condition, but the interior suffers from decades of non-use and vandalism. In 2012, Preservation Maryland placed the Pest House on its list of threatened historic properties.[13] The same year, the Baltimore Sun reported that the 1872 Cockeysville building, "built to house poor people who had communicable diseases" was a "boarded-up structure" but Preservation Maryland was the subject an effort to "preserve it as a center for county African-American history."[14]

The barn housing the Dickenson-Gorsuch Farm Museum

The Barn[edit]

The Barn is a modern structure, built on the foundation of a 19th-century barn destroyed by fire in the 1970s. It now house a farm museum, named in honor of Baltimore County Veterinarian Dickinson Gorsuch (1878-1970) whose bequest enabled the establishment of the museum in 1993 .[15]


Civil Defense automobile tags circa 1962


Objects from the museum collection of 9,000-10,000 items, some of which are not on general display but can sometimes be seen in special exhibitions.[3][16] There are also hundreds of archival collections.


The Society has a collection of over 500 maps and atlases.[3][17]


The Society's library contains 4,000 volumes.[3]

Resources available at the HSBC Research Library


More than 8,000 historic photographs reside in the Society's files.[3]


The Society maintains 9,000 surname files, most of which can be found on-site, which often contain only one spelling of the surname.[18] Also, for genealogists, maps which show the names of landowners and where they homes are located are available.[17] Additionally, on the first Thursday of each month, the HSBC has free Genealogy classes and there are some inscriptions of gravestones.[19][20][21][22]

Online database[edit]

Part of the 33,000 records are available in a searchable database which has a "Keyword Search", "Advanced Search" and "Random Images button" along with other catalog searches.[23]

Other resources[edit]

The society's over 1900 vertical files on varied topics, library holdings, and photograph collection, are indexed online.[24][25][26] Those who visit the society have to pay an entrance fee of $5.00 per visit for those who are non-members, with photocopies being 25 cents a page and a $5.00 fee for capturing images using a digital device or phone.[27]


The HSBC has been a recipient of an award, in 2014, from the Costume Society of America and hosting, in 2009, the friends of Friends of Texas, Maryland.[28][29] They also held joint events with the Baltimore City Historical Society on [police history and Baltimore's water history.[30] Apart from this, its volunteers have researched a "progressive little town called Warren" submerged under the "waters of Loch Raven Reservoir" and doing genealogical talks.[31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Notes and Queries,Baltimore County Historical Society Maryland Historical Magazine, vol. 57, no. 3 (1962): 280-282.
  2. ^ "Retro Snapshots highlight smARTS arts and culture show," Baltimore County Government, Nov 15, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e "About", Historical Society of Baltimore County, accessed May 23, 2018.
  4. ^ Offutt, E. Francis, Baltimore County Landmarks, Towson, May 1971, 34.
  5. ^ Jensen, Brennen|House of Pain| Web blog post|Charmed Life|Baltimore City Paper|May 1, 2002
  6. ^ Maryland State Archives, Maryland At A Glance: Historical Societies, Maryland Manual, last updated Nov 16, 2017.
  7. ^ "Historical Society of Baltimore County", Genealogists.com, accessed May 23, 2018.
  8. ^ "History Trails," Historical Society of Baltimore County, accessed May 23, 2018.
  9. ^ Heather Norris, "Catonsville's connection to Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth," Catonsville Times, Apr 14, 2015.
  10. ^ "Grants," Baltimore County Government, revised Oct 6, 2017, accessed May 23, 2018.
  11. ^ "African American Heritage Preservation Program Grants for Capital Projects," Maryland Historical Trust, accessed May 23, 2018.
  12. ^ "Landmarks List". Baltimore County. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  13. ^ "2012 Endangered Maryland List Released" (PDF). Preservation Maryland. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  14. ^ Jim Joyner, "Cockeysville 'Pest House' on list of endangered historic properties," Baltimore Sun, March 16, 2012.
  15. ^ Erlandson, Robert (August 16, 1993). "Agriculture of old gets a new look Farm museum to open Oct. 10 in Texas". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  16. ^ "Historical Society of Baltimore County", Visit Maryland, Maryland Office of Tourism Development, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Map Collection", Historical Society of Baltimore County, accessed May 23, 2018.
  18. ^ "Genealogy Surname Files", Historical Society of Baltimore County, accessed May 23, 2018.
  19. ^ "Genealogy for Beginners," Baltimore County Genealogy Society, accessed May 23, 2018.
  20. ^ "Free Monthly Genealogy Workshop", Hunt Valley Patch, May 3, 2018.
  21. ^ "Sparrows Point Graveyard", Sparrows Point Steel Workers, accessed May 23, 2018.
  22. ^ Andrew Clark, "Hands on History," University of Baltimore Magazine, Summer 2014.
  23. ^ "Welcome to our Online Collections Database!", Historical Society of Baltimore County, accessed May 23, 2018.
  24. ^ "Research Vertical File Collection", Historical Society of Baltimore County, accessed May 23, 2018.
  25. ^ "HSBC Library Holdings," Historical Society of Baltimore County, accessed May 23, 2018.
  26. ^ "Photograph collection," Historical Society of Baltimore County, accessed May 23, 2018.
  27. ^ "Research," Historical Society of Baltimore County, accessed May 23, 2018.
  28. ^ "Angels Project," Costume Society of America, accessed May 23, 2018.
  29. ^ "The 2009 Ballykilcline Society Reunion," 2009, accessed May 23, 2018.
  30. ^ "News and Events Bulletin Board," Baltimore City Historical Society, 2012-2015.
  31. ^ Rus VanWestervelt, "'Poems of Warren' tells story of town lost under waters of Loch Raven Reservoir," Baltimore Sun, May 5, 2014.
  32. ^ "Program of Speakers," Baltimore County Genealogical Society, accessed May 23, 2018.
  33. ^ Shariff Jameel, "Warren, MD – A Forgotten Town Flooded by Baltimore City," Zesty Things, Nov 14, 2017.
  34. ^ "History Underwater: Baltimore City, The Gunpowder River and Loch Raven Reservoir," Towson Patch, Oct 9, 2013.
  35. ^ "Warren Factory Covered Bridge," MD Covered Bridges, accessed May 23, 2018.
  36. ^ Ryan Harvey, "Hidden Histories of Baltimore County," Dec 19, 2010.
  37. ^ Jacob Smith, "Merryman Cemetery in the Ghost Town of Warren," Aug 15, 2015.
  38. ^ "Sunken City of Warren," Village Crossing II, May 2, 2012.
  39. ^ Jacob Smith, "Abandoned Forgotten Merryman Estate With Underground Cellar," Aug 11, 2015.
  40. ^ "A Town under Loch Raven Reservoir?," Historical Society of Baltimore County, accessed May 23, 2018.
  41. ^ Edward C. Papenfuse, "Water, Water, Everywhere, but is it safe to drink?", Reflections by a Maryland Archivist, Feb 5, 2014.