Skip to Main Content

Primary Sources for Historians

Resources in Special Collections

The Special Collections Department has a variety of resources useful to historians, including major photography collections, regional archives and manuscript collections, as well as being the rare book and alternative press collections repository. Full details on holdings can be found on the Library website at Special Collections.
Collections of particular interest to historians include:


Photography collections can be viewed in the department during business hours or by appointment. An Index to the collections is available, as is a partial database of individual images. Digitized images not listed below are linked through the database.

Digitized image collections online
The digitized collections include photographs of child labor, African-American history, American Civil War, others. Collection descriptions are available on the webpage.
Print & Negative Collections
Baltimore Sun Photos [prints and negatives, see Baltimore Sun Archives for additional info]
Primarily local news photographs, some world coverage, bulk 1920s-1970s. Arranged by personal name and subject. Online index forthcoming.
Hughes Collection [glass plate negatives, some prints. Now available online]
Local commercial photographers, primarily late 19th-early 20th century. Baltimore businesses, store windows, street scenes, buildings, with a separate collection of panoramic views. Partial finding aid available in the department. Scanning is permitted of negatives in suitable condition.
News American Collection [prints & negatives only, no online]
World news service photographs. Primarily early to mid-twentieth century. Arranged by subject, minimal captions, no finding aid.
Underwood & Underwood Collection [prints & negatives only, no online]
World news service photographs, with captions. Primarily early to mid-twentieth century. Arranged by subject, no finding aid.

Regional Archives, Manuscript Collections, Newspapers

Regional Archives

These manuscripts and records contain the papers of individuals and organizations connected with Baltimore and the greater Maryland region.

  • Philip M. Wagner papers

    Coverage: 1839-1995, bulk 1942-1989
    This collection contains the documents relating to the life and work of Philip M. Wagner (1904-1996). Wagner served as a columnist and editor at the Baltimore Sun from 1930-1964. The materials are organized into series which reflect the major areas of life & work: personal, Sun Papers & Boordy Vineyards.

  • Perry Hall Improvement Association (PHIA) records

    Coverage: 1945-1986
    Includes the documents on the founding and organization of the Association, projects undertaken, membership lists, newspaper clippings and zoning regulations from the period.

  • Ferdinand C. Latrobe papers

    Coverage: 1833-1922
    This collection contains a multitude of materials written by Ferdinand C. Latrobe and relating to Mr. Latrobe. Latrobe was Mayor of Baltimore for seven terms, spanning the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

  • Stabler family papers, 1893-1973, bulk 1941-1973

    This collection documents the activities of the Stabler family primarily from 1941 to 1973. The Stabler family previously owned the land that is now the UMBC campus. Personal histories including correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippins related to the construction of Spring Grove and UMBC, official family documents, and certificates provide a brief biographical sketch of the members of the Hayes/Stabler family. Ephemera and books are also included.

  • Ernest Kempe collection

    Coverage: 1865-1953
    This collection, compiled and collected by Ernest Kempe, includes a series of scrapbook pages from twenty binders and a ledger with clippings dealing with Baltimore, Maryland.

  • Baltimore Sun archives

    Coverage: Index Only
    Special Collections maintains a growing Baltimore Sun archives which includes approximately 750,000 photographs, negatives, transperencies, and archival collections documenting the Sun's history dating to 1837.

  • Baltimore Sun financial and selected labor records

    Coverage: 1837-1986
    Contains information pertaining to Sun finances and Baltimore Newspaper Guild relations. Financial materials include monthly statements, treasurer's reports, tax and payroll records, financial correspondence, and transactional files in both loose and ledger formats. Among the Guild materials are correspondence, meeting minutes, Guild negotiation documents, and newsletters from the late 1930s and early 1940s, many of which were the personal copies of H.L. Mencken.

  • Finding Aid to the Albin O. Kuhn Papers [Archival collection]

    Coverage: Index Only
    Finding aid. Albin O. Kuhn's papers document his employment in the University System of Maryland including his involvement with the College Park and Baltimore campuses as professor and administrator and the development of the Baltimore County campus where he served as the first chancellor. The collection is available to researchers in the Special Collections department during working hours or by appointment.

  • Harold A. McDougall papers

    Coverage: Index Only
    Papers from Harold McDougall's book, Black Baltimore: A New Theory of Community (Temple University Press, 1993). Includes correspondence, research notes, photographs, and reviews.

  • O'Donnell family papers, 1831-1932

    Coverage: Index Only
    Papers of the descendants of John O'Donnell, the founder of Canton in southeastern Baltimore, Md., and his wife, Sarah Chew Elliott O'Donnell. Materials include correspondence, journals, and family histories.

Newspapers Collection [hard copy]
An index to the newspaper holdings in Special Collections is available. The holdings represent UMBC's contribution to the preservation of original copies of American newspapers. Titles are primarily from the Northeastern and Central states. Dates of publication range from the early 19th century to mid-20th century.

The Department is also the depository for a complete run of the print holdings of the Baltimore Sun (1837-1968)and the Evening Sun (1910-1964) [no index].