Explore Southern Maryland’s Past at Local Historical Societies

Kimberly Bean
Kimberly Bean
Published on July 26, 2018

Southern Maryland’s history stretches back hundreds of years, starting with the Native Americans who first lived here to the arrival of English colonists to the families who make their homes here today. That history includes the birth of the state, the earliest days of a brand-new country, and the revolutions and change that followed.

And, many Southern Maryland families can trace their roots in the region back decades, often in the same home or plot of land.

When you have questions about Southern Maryland history or genealogy, who do you call? The local historical societies, of course!

Each county in Southern Maryland has its own historical society that manages archives and research libraries as well as genealogical information for its county. These organizations are great resources when you want to learn more about the past or try to fill out the branches on your family tree. Here’s a little more information on each county’s historical society.

Calvert County Historical Society

With a mission to “collect, preserve, publish, and disseminate historical facts for cultural purposes,” the Calvert County Historical Society was founded in 1953 and incorporated in May 1954. The society maintains a research library, archives, gift shop, and meeting space at Linden, a historic home in Prince Frederick that was built in 1868. It has been the society’s headquarters since 2000.

The Calvert County Historical Society helped in the establishment of the Calvert Marine Museum and the relocation of the Drum Point Lighthouse to the museum grounds. It was also part of designing the county flag and seal, contributed to the development of the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, and supports the Jefferson-Patterson Park and Museum. The Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum is also operated under the auspices of the historical society.

Throughout the year, the society hosts educational and social events for members and the public. To learn more about the society and its events and fundraisers, visit http://www.calverthistory.org/.

(Image via Calvert County Historical Society website.)

The Historical Society of Charles County

In 1961, the Historical Society of Charles County was established to “preserve, research, and promote the heritage of Charles County.” The society meets three times a year – winter, spring, and fall – and hosts dinner meetings with a speaker in the spring and fall and elects officers and board members in the fall.

The society maintains and offers tours at Historic Friendship House in partnership with the College of Southern Maryland. The house, which was originally built in the early- to mid-1700s, was reconstructed on the college’s La Plata campus in 1976. The historical society saved the home from its owner’s plan to burn it and stored the pieces for several years before rebuilding it at CSM. It’s unique architectural style dates back to medieval England, making it a unique structure in Southern Maryland.

The society maintains a file of historic sites in Charles County and can help residents to genealogical and family research. Archives and files are stored at the Southern Maryland Studies Center on the La Plata campus of CSM.

To learn more about the Historical Society of Charles County and its work, visit http://charlescountyhistorical.org/.

(Image via Historical Society of Charles County website.)

St. Mary’s County Historical Society

The story of the state of Maryland begins in St. Mary’s County, and the job of preserving and researching that history belongs to the St. Mary’s County Historical Society. It “collects, preserves, researches, and interprets the history of St. Mary’s County.”

Housed in the 18th century Tudor Hall in Leonardtown, the society operates a research center and community members can make appointments with an archivist or do genealogical and family research. The historical society also maintains exhibits at the nearby Old Jail Museum in Leonardtown, which has a cannon from the Ark, one of the ships that brought the first colonists to Maryland.

To learn more about the society and its work to preserve St. Mary’s County history, visit https://stmaryshistory.org/.

(Image via St. Mary’s County Historical Society on Facebook.)

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