Special Collections: Photographs

Baltimore - Fires & Explosions - Construction & Demolition - Demolition Crew with Dynamite Apparatus, unidentified photographer, 1904, Subject Vertical File, MdHS.

Baltimore - Great Fire of 1904 - Demolition Crew with Dynamite Apparatus, unidentified photographer, 1904, Subject Vertical File, MdHS.

There are over one million photographs in the MdHS collection that depict Maryland history. A small fraction of which can be viewed in the Collections Online database (click and scroll down). New images are added often.

Click here to download a tutorial (.pptx) on how to search our photo collections.

Getting Started Online

Below is a list of the major components of the MdHS photographs collection. If searching general terms based on subject, name, or location, below is the best place to start your search and to understand how the photographs collNote ections are arranged. a general search can be conducted by entering terms into the Search box in the upper right corner, beginning with broad terms.

Numbered Photograph Collections (PP)
Collections of photographs (and some printed materials) provided by one donor or compiled from several donors. The link above contains subject descriptions of the 200+ photograph collections.

Group Portrait Vertical File (GPVF)
Images of groups arranged alphabetically by subject. The link above is the complete listing.

Portrait Vertical File (PVF)
Images of individuals arranged alphabetically by the sitter’s last name. This list contains over 6,000 names.

Subject Vertical File (SVF)
Items are arranged by subject in a hierarchy that is alphabetical, geographical, and chronological. The index contains subjects as well as counties or major cities in Maryland, highlighted in bold. Containing over 17,000 items, this is one of MdHS’s most popular photograph resource tools.

Cased Photographs Collection (CSPH)
Over 500 daguerreotypes, tintypes, opalotypes, etc. mostly of individuals or groups.  Note some of the items on this list may not be available for requests in the library.

Major Collections With Specific Scopes

Peale/Baltimore City Life Museum (BCLM) Photograph Collection
Date range is late 1840s through 1980s with particular strength in the first half of the twentieth century. The collection is particularly strong in documentation of Baltimore’s history including architecture, residents, neighborhoods, businesses, politics, etc. There are over 60,000 items in this collection. BCLM inventory lists are currently being edited and uploaded as each inventory list becomes available. Browse through BCLM images of all kind in Collections Online (click and scroll down).

Hughes Company PP8 and Hughes Studio Collection PP30
Both collections are by commercial photography company, the Hughes Company. PP8 ranges from ca. 1910-1946 and PP30 ranges from ca. 1940-1956. Both collections combined are a staggering visual depiction of Baltimore City and Maryland history. The collection contains roughly 40,000 photographs of street scenes, architecture, construction, portraits, buildings, shipping, industry, businesses, sport facilities, residences, churches, transportation and much more.

Paul Henderson Photograph Collection (BCLM HEN)
Over 6,000 negatives and prints from ca. 1940-1960 depicting prominent and unidentified African Americans of Baltimore and Maryland, church and other organizations and clubs, Civil Rights-related protests, entertainers, Pennsylvania Avenue, Morgan State University (then College), Negro League baseball team Elite Giants, and more. Reference photographs of the negatives are available in the library.

Eubie Blake Collection
The Eubie Blake collection includes photographs, manscript items, and sheet music from the estate of James Herbert "Eubie" Blake the renowned African American jazz and ragtime composer, lyricist, and pianist. The collection consists of three separate collections:

Eubie Blake Photograph Collection, PP301

Eubie Blake Manuscript and Ephemera Collection, MS 2800

Eubie Blake Sheet Music Collection, MS 2800.1

Web Search Tools

Enter search terms into the following search tools:

General search tool located in the upper right corner of the website

Finding Aids search tool

Collections Online database search tool. The term "Photograph" is already entered for you in the search tool box. All you have to do is type in a title, creator, or colleciton name. (This is only for images that have already been digitized and uploaded to the website.) 

Search Tools in the Library

Please view the Library User Information before planning your trip to the library.

To provide easy access, photocopies of some of the most popular photos are found in binders to be pulled on your behalf by Special Collections staff. These images may be photocopied. The subjects of the binders are:

Baltimore, 1752-1899; 1900-1924; 1925-1945; 1946-1980 (four total)
Baltimore Theaters/Streetcars
Historical Maryland and Baltimore Prints from the Hambleton Collection
Md. African-American History
Md. Views/Maryland Children/Famous Marylanders/Md. Seasonal and Holiday Photographs
Maryland Photographers (Paul Henderson, A. Aubrey Bodine, etc.)

Pat I of the Paul Henderson Photograph Collection (ca. 1940-1960 Baltimore's African American Community) is also available in three-ring binders as reference photographs. The original negatives are restricted from public use.

Local History Subject File
This clippings file features newspaper and magazine articles about a wide variety of Maryland subjects, including geographical locations, buildings, institutions, organizations, businesses, events, and activities. The articles are organized alphabetically by subject and may be photocopied. Many of the articles include photographs. If you are just looking for information rather than reproductions, this could be very useful.

The library owns many books featuring excellent illustrations, many originals of which are in our collections. Check the picture credits; they will indicate if the picture is in the MdHS collection. (Items credited to the Baltimore City Life Museums or the Peale Museum are now the property of MdHS.) Books may be photocopied. Books are available in the main reading room. In addition to browsing the shelves, for books with illustrations, try adding "ill" as a keyword when a searching in the Online Catalog.

Passano Historic Structures Index
Over the years, library staff members have created a large card index to buildings by location. The index often includes references to illustrations in books. Learn more about the Passano Index on the MdHS Library blog.

Rights and Reproduction 

For rights and reproduction information, please visit the Rights and Reproduction page of this website. Please be sure to acquire the item ID through the Special Collections Department for the image(s) you would like digitally reproduced before contacting the Department of Imaging Services. Please do not send checks to the Department of Imaging Services without confirmation of total first.


Email Special Collections
Special Collections Department, H. Furlong Baldwin Library
201 West Monument Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201