Historical Markers Program
Historical markers have been a familiar sight on Maryland's roadways for more than half a century. Launched in 1933, the roadside historical marker program has proven an effective way to draw attention to the many events, people and places that have contributed to the richness of our state and nation. The marker program is administered by the Maryland Historical Trust in cooperation with the Maryland State Highway Administration. MHT reviews marker proposals, finalizes the wording, recommends general locations for placement and funds purchase of new markers. SHA determines the best siting, installs and maintains the markers, and funds replacement markers.
Propose a New Marker
Eligible Proposals. The Historical Marker Program commemorates resources that contribute to a better understanding of the "big picture" of Maryland history, representing people, places, and events or trends whose influence was felt broadly across the state. To ensure that resources commemorated by markers truly rate that level of significance, the MHT employs standards for evaluation comparable to those established for other programs which recognize Maryland's historical and cultural resources.
Criteria for Evaluation. The primary criterion for a marker is statewide significance. The standards for evaluating proposed historical markers are adapted from the criteria for listing resources in the National Register of Historic Places and the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. In over 30 years of use, these criteria have proven highly effective in guiding decisions about historical significance. They were designed to allow consideration of the broad range of types of significance which historic resources may possess, and to recognize the accomplishments of all peoples who have made contributions to our state's history and heritage.
For the purpose of the marker program, the quality of significance in Maryland history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture is present in events, persons, and places:
- that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
- that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
- that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values; or
- that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.
Criteria Considerations (Exceptions). Ordinarily cemeteries, birthplaces or graves of historical figures, properties owned by religious institutions or used for religious purposes, structures that have been moved from their original locations, reconstructed historic buildings, properties primarily commemorative in nature, and properties that have achieved significance within the past 50 years shall not be considered eligible for historical markers. However, such resources may qualify if they fall within the following exceptions:
- a religious property deriving primary significance from architectural or artistic distinction or historical importance; or
- a building or structure removed from its original location but which is significant primarily for architectural value, or which is the surviving structure most importantly associated with a historic person or event; or
- a birthplace or grave of a historical figure of outstanding importance; or
- a cemetery that derives its primary significance from graves of persons of transcendent importance, from age, from distinctive design features, or from association with historic events; or
- a reconstructed building when accurately executed in a suitable environment and when no other building or structure with the same association has survived; or
- a property primarily commemorative in intent if design, age, tradition, or symbolic value has invested it with its own historical significance; or
- a property achieving significance within the past 50 years if it is of exceptional importance.
Accuracy is Paramount! Roadside Historical Markers are highly visible public "documents," and must be held to an unwavering standard of accuracy in the information they present. To carry out its responsibilities to all citizens of Maryland, the MHT must insist on the highest degree of academic rigor in documenting the facts incorporated in the text of roadside historical markers.
Location. Roadside historical markers must be located on State Highway Administration (SHA) right-of-way. The applicant is asked to suggest a general location, but the final placement is determined by SHA, taking into account safety standards, visibility, etc.
The Application Process
Marker proposals may be prepared by individuals, nonprofit organizations, businesses, or government agencies. State residency is not a requirement for application. Applications may be submitted to the Trust at any time during the year. The applicant is responsible for providing all required documentation. Applications are reviewed in the order received. Due to the number of applications, degree of review required, and need to coordinate installation according to weather and other factors, the process of review, ordering and installation generally takes from twelve to eighteen months.
If the proposal is successful, the State will cover the cost of producing and erecting the marker, within the limits of available funding. It is anticipated that eligible applications for markers will at times exceed available funds. In such cases, markers may be produced and erected with private funds donated to the program. All markers produced and erected under the Roadside Historical Marker Program become the property of the State.
If you see a marker that has fallen down or needs repair, please use the reporting form below.
For More Information
For more information on the historical marker program, contact Peter Kurtze at 410-697-9562.