Find Your Family History for Free at the Library

By now, we’ve all seen the TV shows that show a celebrity having an expert trace their family tree so they can find out more about their history.  Now, research experts can help you do the same thing for free.  Four departments at the Enoch Pratt Central Library can help you trace the branches of your family tree.


The African American Department has 20 different guides to assist you in genealogy research.  Over in the Maryland Department, check out the U.S. Census records for the state as well as Baltimore City directories. In Periodicals, a collection of historic newspapers on microfilm or databases contains death notices, obituaries, wedding announcement and out-of-state directories. And Social Science and History offers basic guides to tracing your family tree with staff on hand to point you in the right direction.  To find out more about your family history for free, check out our Genealogy and Family History Resources at the Pratt.


Teen Read Week 2017: Planning for the Future

The Pratt Teen Learning and Leadership Center

Creation Space Rendering

As we kick off Teen Read Week 2017, the Pratt Library has made a commitment to young adults throughout Maryland.  You may have noticed the massive renovation project inside the Central Library on Cathedral Street.  Part of that renovation will include a Teen Learning and Leadership Center.

Ornate ceiling murals restored in Pratt Teen Space

The space will provide 6th through 12th graders with flexible spaces, state-of-the-art technology, and expert staff to help students maximize their potential.

Pratt young adult librarian Ny’ilah Whitaker says, “I’m looking forward to the new teen space.  Teens really need their own space.”

That space will include a “creation station” to promote interactivity so teens can create digital music, film a video, write code or participate in STEM programs. The Center will also provide space for college preparation, including instructions on how to complete college applications and apply for financial aid.

“It’s such a wonderful message to the teens in Baltimore City and the state of Maryland that we have invested in them and in their future,” says Deborah Taylor, Pratt Chief of School and Student Services.  “This will give us a chance to do so much more. I think we have a chance to really make a difference in the lives of the teens, and also to make a difference in what kind of city we have.” Funding for the Teen Learning and Leadership Center is generously donated by James and Sylvia Earl.

For a sneak peek at the new space, check out this video:



New to Digital Maryland: Dairy Farms of Montgomery County

Alan Belt Farm #1, Beallsville, Maryland

Need some time away from the city? You’re one click away from the Dairy Farms of Montgomery County thanks to a new collection available on Digital Maryland. Until World War II, farming was a primary industry in Montgomery County.  The completion of the B&O Metropolitan branch railroad helped boost the rise of dairy farms across Montgomery County, so much so it was known as the “milk train.” This line made it possible for farmers to bring their milk into their local rail station for fast delivery to Washington, D.C.  At one point in the 1950’s, there were over 300 family-operated dairy farms in Montgomery County.

Walter Bryan Farm, Etchison, MD

The second half of the 20th century saw a rapid decline in Montgomery County farms due to development pressures, ever increasing government health regulations, and a Federal Government Whole Herd Buy-out Program via the Dairy Termination Program (DTP). Families could make more money selling their land to developers or selling their herds than they could make farming. Although the county has been making efforts to limit development and to preserve farmland via its Agricultural Reserve, Montgomery County dairy farms continue to disappear.

Les Woodfield Farm, Damascus, Maryland

In 2017, the number of operating dairy farms in the county fell to four. To help preserve the history of dairy farms in Montgomery County, Richard Rowe has been photographing them and displaying the images at the King Barn Dairy MOOseum in Germantown, Maryland. Many of the farm structures he has captured no longer exist.

Check out Richard Rowe’s Photography collection on Digital Maryland. 

Read to Reef Book Club Returns!

October is here.. and that means we are going back under the sea.  The Read to Reef Book Club is back! This is a great partnership between the Pratt Library and the National Aquarium.  Here’s how it works:

1. Baltimore-area children in fifth grade and younger can visit any Enoch Pratt Free Library branch and show their library card to receive a Read to Reef bookmark while supplies last.

2. Check out the list of the National Aquarium’s favorite aquatic or conservation-themed books or ask your librarian for suggestions. Borrow, read or listen to someone read any five of these books and record them on your Read to Reef bookmark.

3. Bring your completed bookmark to the National Aquarium’s ticket center before December 28, 2017, to exchange it for up to four admission tickets to be used that day.

Read To Reef Govans Pratt Library | August 9, 2016


So head to your nearest Pratt branch, and get reading!