They Can Do It In Maryland, Why Not Elsewhere?


Screen shot of entire land record from Harford County, Maryland.

Why can’t they all do it this way?

When users download images of local Maryland land records from the MDLANDREC website, a red citation is included on the far left hand edge of the image.  It’s  clearly in the margin of the actual document image, but it is a helpful feature that more sites should incorporate. Apparently generated on the fly, it even includes the date the image was downloaded.

Is it in proper Evidence Explained format? Of course not. After all, Evidence Explained‘s author is not sitting idly by waiting to craft citations as these records are retrieved. I’m reasonably certain she has better things to do.

But the red citation certainly contains enough information to allow a user to create an accurate and adequate citation for the image. One can easily use that information to create a citation in the spirit of Evidence Explained.


Enlarged image of the auto-generated citation.

I just wish that more sites would do this.  It is especially helpful for records of this type where images from one record book often look exceedingly similar to those from another record book. Often one can tell the county in which a document was recorded by context clues within the recorded copy of the document. The page number is usually legible, but not always.

The book number or name usually is not indicated on every page.

Users should capture enough information from an image to cite it as they save the image. But we all know that doesn’t happen.

This just makes the citation much easier.

And here’s wishing more sites would do it.


There’s more information in this post about my webinar on using this website.


6 thoughts on “They Can Do It In Maryland, Why Not Elsewhere?

  1. Christopher T. Smithson says:

    I am a researcher in Harford County, Maryland. The MDLandRec system is very simple to use.

    The typed index itself only has the deeds and mortgages listed. However there are many other things listed in the front of each land record book from 1774-1860’s from manumissions, bills of sale, marriage contracts just to name a few. The original land record books are still at the Courthouse but several other sets of records have been taken either to the Maryland Archives or the Historical Society of Harford County.

    • That’s a really good point and the typed index is a big clue that it was not an index created as the records were recorded. I’ll have to go through the individual volumes and search the indexes as there are probably a few other items that I’ve not uncovered.

  2. It would be good to capture the provenance of downloaded images, too, Michael. I suggested somewhere (probably for FHISO) that all downloaded images (photos and documents) could have automatically-added provenance information placed in the image meta-data. This would be really good for photos since no one (well, almost no one) includes any attribution when they stick someone else’s photo in their tree or on their blog.

  3. Rebecca Koford says:

    To use that list in the front of each book from MDLandRec, when you search, type in the clerk’s initials and book number as you normally would, then use “0” for the front index pages. This is typically a larger file, so it takes a few minutes to upload. Thanks to archivist Joe at the Maryland State Archives for that little inside tip! I’ve yet to see any state’s records that are so complete online as Maryland has. (If you know of any, please share!)

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