Researching University of Maryland School of Law Alumni Records

Document conversion for this project support by the University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation
A project of the Thurgood Marshall Law Library

About the Project | Getting Started | Filling in the Details | Images | Other Libraries | Browse the Archives | Search the Archives


About the Project

The University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation funded this digital collection of the University of Maryland School of Law archives. The collection consists of over 15,000 digitized images, including course catalogs, yearbooks, commencement programs, grade books, and faculty minutes. Each document is presented in PDF and is fully searchable within each file. A complete list of all available documents is provided. Additionally all material may be searched in the library's Catalog.

Getting Started

Without a doubt the best resource for researching University of Maryland School of Law alumni, particularly when looking at "legacies" is the 1907 edition of Eugene Cordell's History of the University of Maryland. In two volumes - both of which have been scanned and are available in fully searchable PDF - this work offers an excellent background of the Law School and, in volume two, a fairly comprehensive index to alumni (up to 1907) with select biographies. This "official" history is an ideal tool for understanding both the origin of the University of Maryland in general (did you know that in addition to a medical and law school there was also chartered a school of theology?) and of the law school's early years.

A brief sketch of the law school's history may also be found on The University of Maryland School of Law - the first fifty years, 1869-1919.

Several other possible jumping off points are the first edition of Callcott's History of the University of Maryland (1966) (General LD3231.M702 C3) and of more recent vintage - Histories of the Bench & Bar of Baltimore City (Brune KFX1103.5.A2 1997) or Judge James Schneider's wonderful history of the Maryland Bar Association A Century of Striving for Justice (Brune KFM1278.S35 1996).

If the subject is an African-American or a women graduate you may want to look at:

  1. Color at the Bar (Media F189.B19 C39 2001) [Audio from Color at the Bar - courtesy of MPT]
  2. "Empowering the African-American legal community" 28 Md. B. J. 2 (1995)
  3. Professor Larry Gibson's excellent multi-panel exhibit of the first 100 African-American Attorneys in Maryland (on display in the law school)
  4. Professor David Bogen's history ("The Transformation of the Fourteenth Amendment: reflections from the admission of Maryland's first black lawyers," 44 Md. L. R. 939 (1985))
  5. Asst. Dean O'Neill's history of women attorneys ("The Emergence of women in the legal profession," 29 Md. B. J. 38 (1996))
  6. Marcella Holland's article on African-American women attorneys in Maryland ("The Emergence of Maryland's African-American women attorneys," 28 Md. B. J. 14 (1995))
  7. Professor Taunya Lovell Banks' article ("Setting the Record Straight: Maryland's First Black Women Law Graduates," 63 Md. L. R. 752 (2004)).

Other general tools to consider as starting points are: Scharf's History of Maryland (General F181 .S31 1967), The Tercentenary of Maryland (General F181 .T34) Robert Brugger's extraordinary history - Maryland: a middle temperament (General F181 .B85 1988) and finally the familiar, but often overlooked, Dictionary of American Biography (General E176 .D563).

For the latter part of the twentieth century there are several good tools that can help you get started in researching our alumni. These include Venerable assembly: the history of Venable, Baetjer and Howard, 1900-1991 (General KFM1278 .M14 1991) and the already mentioned work by Robert Brugger. Other possible sources of biographical and background information are: City life: a perspective from Baltimore, 1968-1978 (General F189.B145 E9), William Marbury's biography In the catbird seat (General CT25 .M3 1988) and William Donald Schaefer: a political biography (General F186.35.S33 S55 1999) by Fraser Smith.

Filling in the Details

At this point you have hopefully identified when your subject graduated and know his/her full name and class. If you are really lucky the person requesting the information will have already told you enough to get started. However, sometimes the information provided doesn't always pan out. It is always a good idea if a known date doesn't turn up a match to range about five years before and after in the sources to see if your subject shows up. One thing to keep in mind - as many genealogy librarians will attest - vanity will often cause a subject to adjust important dates. Also, when dealing with male alumni around WWI or II birth dates may have been changed in some records in order to allow the subject to enlist.

Let's assume however that you have pinpointed the graduation date of the subject. Searching the digitized archives from this page will provide you with graduation information (awards, degrees - remember that the type of degree awarded varied over the years, thesis topics [when they were required], other alumni, etc.).

The following titles are also possible sources of background material:

  • Report of the ... annual meeting - Maryland State Bar Association (General KF332 .M31). Good source for both obits and speeches if your subject was an officer. With luck the subject might also have given a speech or presentation on an important issue of the day.
  • The Afro-American (there is no index to the early years though) (Microfilm Collection)
  • The Baltimore Sun (We have access to a variety of versions - fiche, online: take your pick based on time frame. If the library doesn't have the time period you need the Enoch Pratt Free Library has a complete run of the Sun and is nearby - more on the Pratt below) (Microfilm Collection)
  • The Daily Record (there is no index to the early years though) (Microfilm Collection)
  • The Martindale-Hubbell Directories (allows you to track where, when and, occasionally, in what areas a subject practiced) (Microfiche KFM1238 .M36 directory)
  • The Maryland Bar Association Journal. Shelved by title on Level One of the Library.
  • The Maryland Historical Society Magazine. Shelved by title on Level One of the Library.
  • The Maryland Law Review. Shelved by title on Level One of the Library.
  • Maryland Manuals (if the subject held an elected or appointed position in State government) (General JK3831)
  • The official reports of both Maryland Courts - particularly good for obits / mentions of judges, clerks, compilers of official records and prominent attorneys. Court of Special Appeals (General KFM1248); Court of Appeals (General KFM1245).

If your subject can be associated with a large law firm it is advisable to check out the firms website to see if there is any sort of "history" provided. Similarly, if your alumnus was involved with a business or particular industry you might want to look for annual reports for mention of the individual's role in the business.

Be certain that you check the USMAI catalog, WorldCat and the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (fondly known as "nuckmuck") to see if there are any published works, manuscripts or archival collections that mention your subject.

Finally, it is worth the effort to "Google" the subject to see what might be available.

Images

There are many class portraits that are stored in the Development Office. The Development Office staff has always been very good about providing access if you ask. The images are not indexed though so it is strictly "hunt and peck." There are also a few images in the law library that were not scanned as they were too fragile, be sure to check the catalog. Also, yearbooks and commencement programs are good alternatives. There are also scattered about the law school building many portraits of alumni and faculty.

Other Libraries

The History of Medicine and Special Collections of the Health Sciences and Human Services Library. Home of the "official" archives for UM, B there are yearbooks, official records and minutes, course lists, graduation notices and lots and lots of ephemera.

Enoch Pratt Free Library. The Maryland Department and the African-American History Department are excellent resources. The Maryland Department has a rich trove of vertical file clippings (especially good for the twentieth century), a biography index that includes a wide range of local and specialized publications, and the only index to the complete run of the Maryland Historical Society magazine.

Maryland State Archives. As the name suggests this is the State's official repository. A vast and well organized collection of everything you could possible imagine about state activities and functionaries, much of it is online.

Maryland Historical Society. This private society has a rich collection of Maryland materials including the archives and materials of the former Baltimore City Life Museums. There is a fee to use the facility. However, their online catalog is very well done and can be searched for free; because much of the MHS collection is represented in their catalog it should not be overlooked in any alumni search.


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