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Volume 465, Page 5   View pdf image (33K)
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When the Hall of Records Commission was established thirty
years ago, the General Assembly found it acceptable to outline the
duties of the new agency in comprehensive terms. I quote from Chap-
ter 18 of the Acts of 1935: "All papers, records, relics, and other
memorials connected with the early history of Maryland not required
for the necessary operations of any other office, shall be under the
supervision of and belong to said Commission."

And to make this possible the new position of the original cus-
todian vis a vis these "memorials" had to be spelled out in plain and
simple terms:

"Every State, county, city, town or other public official in the
State in Custody of public records or documents is hereby authorized
and empowered, in his discretion, to turn over to the Commission and
deposit for preservation all original papers, official books, records,
documents, files, newspapers, printed books or portraits not in current
use in his office, and when so surrendered and accepted by the Com-
mission, copies may be made and certified under the seal of the
Commission ...."

This law, or one like it, had been passed in many states before
Maryland; therefore, it was assumed that it would work here. The
conclusion was faulty because the premise was imperfect. Other states
had the law on their books but they were there because they had been
on the books of other states.

Dr. James A. Robertson, the first Archivist of Maryland, neverthe-
less, took the law at its face value and acted accordingly. Some State
officers were anxious to get rid of their records, and there were two
county officers who reluctantly surrendered theirs. That was approx-
imately the accomplishment of three and a half years. Immediately
questions arose: what is current? what records are necessary? what is


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Volume 465, Page 5   View pdf image (33K)
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