Hagerstown library wants Bibles

February 25, 2002|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The Washington County Free Library is seeking old family Bibles and church records that were used to note the dates of births, marriages and deaths.

Such information is used by people researching family histories and is sometimes the only written record of that history.

Marriages have long been recorded in local courthouses, said John Frye, director of the Western Maryland Room at the library.

But births and deaths went unrecorded by the State of Maryland until 1898, he said.

"So the only available way to check the dates of births and deaths is church or Bible records," Frye said. "There's no other way to prove a birth or death. Thus those records become very important."

Marsha Fuller, public relations coordinator at the library, said an old tradition was to note the dates of births, marriages and deaths on blank pages in the family Bible. Generally, those pages were between the Old and New testaments, she said.


Church records also often noted birth, marriage and death dates of parishioners, Frye said.

Frye said the library doesn't want to keep anyone's old Bible, but would copy the relevant pages.

Later, the copied pages from old Bibles will be put together in one book.

"Then they will be available to researchers for family research, what lots of people call genealogy," Frye said.

He said such family research is the most popular research done in the Western Maryland Room.

Anyone interested in letting the library use their old Bible or church records should call 301-739-3250, ext. 158, or visit the Western Maryland Room, which is on the second floor of the library at the corner of Antietam and South Potomac streets in downtown Hagerstown. The Western Maryland Room is open Mondays from 2 to 9 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Frye said.

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