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Spotlight: Washington County Free Library, Maryland

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Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Visitor Services Representative

Washington County Free Library
www.washcolibrary.org/localhistory/genealogy.asp 

Washington County, named for the Revolutionary War general and President George Washington, is located in western Maryland. Hagerstown is the county seat and home to the Washington County Free Library (WCFL). The online local history collection of the Washington County Free Library contains many resources specifically focused Washington County records. Click on the link in the contents list to access the particular resource. 

Obituary Locator 1790 – 2007

This database is a searchable index to the obituaries from the Hagerstown Morning Herald and Daily Mail, 1790 – 2007. There are two search options—last name or other details. The search results returned may provide full name of the deceased, age, if known, date of the obituary, military service, and newspaper abbreviation.

Marriage Records

This database is an index to Washington County marriages for the periods from 1861 to 1919 and 1941–1949. The database may be searched by last name, first name, page number, spouse, or month, day and year of the marriage.

School Records

This database is an index to individuals named in the Annual Report of the Public Schools of Washington County, Maryland, for December 1927. Search fields include last name, first name, home address, role (teacher, trustee), school, election district and school district.

Church Records

There is currently only one active church records database, created from the transcribed records of St. John's Parish in Hagerstown and the records of the parish cemetery. You may search this database by record type, church, officiant, year, date, and description of what took place. For example, parents and sponsors in baptismal records are named. Race is also noted in the record. The records of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Lappans will be available soon.

Cemetery & Death Records

Two cemetery records databases are available. The first is for the Reformed Cemetery of Knoxville, Frederick, County, Maryland. You may search this database by last name, first name, and page number. The second was created from Washington County, Maryland, Cemetery Records transcribed by Samuel Webster Piper prior to 1936, typed and presented by the Conococheague Chapter, NSDAR of Hagerstown in 1942; edited by Dale W. Morrow in 1992. You may search this database by last name, first/middle name, volume, and page number.

Land Records

The links in this section provide access to various land records databases for Western Maryland.  Land records for Washington County are available on the Maryland State Archives website. Direct access to early land records is provided from the library website or you can explore the records from the state archives site by applying for a free password via a link provided on the webpage. The databases are as follows: Land Certificates, Patented 1776 – 1961; Land Certificates, Unpatented 1739 – 1896; and Land Plats and Maps 1849 – 1936.

Historic Newspaper Index

The Historic Newspaper Indexing Project was started in 1980. Its goal was to create a multi-volume subject and personal name index to weekly and semi-weekly newspapers published in Hagerstown between 1790 and 1890. To date, printed volumes of An Index to Hagerstown Newspapers cover the period from 1790 to 1849 and 1860 to 1865.

The online index covers the periods from 1845 to 1849 and 1860 to 1865. Click on the Search Database button to access the database. The following newspapers have been indexed in this database: Herald of Freedom, Herald of Freedom and Torch Light, Herald and Torch Light, Hagerstown Mail, News and Hagerstown News, Maryland Free Press, and Torch Light. The geographic area covered in the articles found in the index include the following “present-day” counties and states: Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties in Maryland; Cumberland, Adams, Fulton and Franklin counties in Pennsylvania; and Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties in West Virginia.

Article titles can be browsed by clicking on the “Show Article Titles by Date” link. Index users can look through lists of titles month by month for each of the years. The data fields include the date on which the article appeared, newspaper abbreviation, page and column information, and the article title and summary. The index can also be searched by keyword. Enter a keyword or phrase in the search box and click on the Start Search button. Click on the “Subject Term” in the search results to see the complete article title information.

You can get assistance with your searches by visiting the Guide to Using the Index. The guide also includes a list of missing issues of the newspapers in the database. Copies of articles may be requested from the library by clicking on the Request Copies button.


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