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Volunteer Programs

The Maryland State Archives offers a program for volunteers to help assist Archives' staff.

Who We Are - Our department works with government records. Our job is to make sure that the records are organized and described in such a way that a person can find the information that they want. We also assist government agencies in determining the value of their records to identify which records need to be kept permanently and which can ultimately be destroyed.

Availability - We can generally accommodate as many or as few hours as you would like to volunteer. We are very flexible with scheduling. We have hours available Monday through Friday between 8:30 and 4:00.

What our volunteers do - There are a variety of projects for our volunteers. Volunteers to our department may work on the same project for a period of time or may get a new task each time that they come. We try to assign work to suit our volunteers tastes when there are any jobs that they particularly like or dislike. Below is a description of the main types of work.

We process records to protect them from deterioration, prepare them for scanning, or just to make them easier to find. Processing records may include any of the following tasks:

  • Removing staples and paperclips
  • Cutting pages from bindings
  • Unfolding and flattening
  • Organizing (alphabetically, chronologically, etc.)
  • Putting records into folders
  • Labeling folders based on our finding aid numbering system
  • Labeling folders based on information in the record
  • Boxing records

A lot of our work involves inventories, since these are the keys to tracking what records we have. Your work with inventories may involve any of the following:

  • Creating inventories by viewing records (on paper, microfilm, etc.) and recording key information
  • Typing hand-written inventories
  • Completing inventories by finding and inserting missing information

We may have you research the legislation, policies and procedures of other states and agencies to help us formulate our own best practices for appraisal and records management.

Data Entry
Some of our tasks involve doing data entry that is used to make records electronically searchable. Here are some examples from our current data entry projects:

  • Creating or confirming typed transcripts of records
  • Recording the beginning and end page numbers for each section in index books

Probate Record Volunteer
The Maryland State Archives is participating in a joint project with the Comptroller of the Treasury, the Registers of Wills, and FamilySearch to have the state's probate records from 1634 to 1940 indexed, scanned, and made available online. Volunteers can perform one or both of the following jobs:

  • Removing staples and paperclips
  • Unfolding and flattening documents
  • Creating cover sheets for each record with identifying information found by reading the documents
  • Labeling folders

  • Indexing
  • Confirming the information on cover sheets by reading the documents
  • Typing information from the cover sheet into a spreadsheet

The Maryland State Archives offers a program for volunteers to assist the Archives' staff in providing reference services in the search room. The Archives has been the beneficiary of a great deal of support from its patrons in the past. Formalizing such efforts has proven advantageous for both the Archives and its volunteers. Those who come to the Archives for research know first hand the increasing demands placed upon the facilities andstaff. The Archives enhances reference services through its use of these capable individuals who work closely with the archivists and archival assistants.

Volunteers perform the following duties:

  • answer reference questions;
  • provide orientation for new researchers;
  • show patrons how to use online guides and indexes;
  • demonstrate the use of computers, microfilm readers and reader printers;
  • show patrons how to fill out request slips

Before assignment to reference duty, volunteers undergo an individualized one-on-one training period. Then they receive on-the-job training by working in the search room with the reference staff. Reference work itself becomes an educational process as archivists, archival assistants, volunteers, and researchers learn from each other.

We ask volunteers to commit to a minimum of a half day every two weeks or an equivalent of one full day every four weeks. The Archives tries to keep the schedule flexible enough to accommodate individual needs. While helping the Archives provide reference services, volunteers will learn more about records, research strategies, and archival operations.

Each volunteer is asked to fill out an application to inform the Archives about individual talents and specializations. The Archives staff and the volunteer confer first before mutually agreeing that he, or she, is ready to commence regularly scheduled search room duty.

The Maryland State Archives offers other opportunities for volunteer involvement. These include processing records, keyboarding data, and conducting group tours. Processing involves the arrangement and description of original records, records on film, or printed materials. Some keyboarding activities form an integral part of processing records. Other keyboarding projects involve inventories and indexes of records. The staff responsible for managing processing, data operations, and outreach provide the training necessary for the individual projects.

Benefits for volunteers include purchasing publications and merchandise at staff discounts, receiving the staff newsletter by mail or email, and using the search room on Mondays when it is closed to the public. Please note, however, that original records are not available on Monday.

To volunteer at the Archives or obtain more information about the program, contact us at or phone: MD toll free (800) 235-4045 or (410) 260-6400. You may also download the volunteer application and return it to the Archives in person or via US Mail. You will be contacted shortly thereafter.

Download Volunteer Application: (PDF Format)    (Word Format)

This information resource of the Maryland State Archives is presented here for fair use in the public domain. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: Rights assessment for associated source material is the responsibility of the user.

© Copyright November 02, 2017 Maryland State Archives