Recovering Identity Project

Frederick County Cultural Resources Survey & Historic Context StatementRecovering Identity Phase 2


Community Meeting
September 27, 2023
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Gary Rollins Celebration of Life Center
303 Catoctin Ave., Frederick, MD 21701
Video | Presentation

Recovering Identity Virtual Public Forum
March 1, 2022
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Video | Presentation

Monday, October 18, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Overall Project Summary

African American Resources Cultural and Heritage Society (AARCH Society) and Frederick County Government (FCG) are partnering to create the first countywide African American Historic Context Statement and Cultural Resource Survey. This project will be completed in several phases. AARCH Society and FCG will work with partners throughout the region during this long-term project. The first phase of Recovering Identity was awarded $50,000 through the Maryland Historical Trust’s Non-Capital Grant program and was spearheaded by Catoctin Furnace Historical Society. The Phase I survey identified 15 previously undocumented African American sites and led to the expansion of the Emmitsburg National Register Historic District. Phase II received $35,000 through the Maryland Historical Trust’s Non-Capital Grant program and will focus on creating a historic context study of African American history and culture throughout Frederick County. This context study will be the basis for future surveying phases throughout the County.

Recovering Identity Survey


How to Participate

Do you have information about the African American history of Frederick County that you’d like to share? There are several ways you can participate:

  1. Attend a public forum
  2. Share a site that is important to African American history and culture (see above)
  3. Submit a Public Information Form (see below)
  4. You can also contact the County directly to share information: Historic Preservation Planner – Amanda Whitmore, at or 301-600-1147

Public Information Submittal Form

Please use the following links to submit public Information with a written or digital form:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a Historic Context Statement, and what is it used for?

A Historic context Statement is a written document that establishes a framework for evaluating historic properties. It describes the broad patterns of historical development of a community that are represented through its buildings and other aspects of its built environment. A Historic Context Statement is an important planning tool. It helps decision makers and others determine which properties in a community merit recognition as historical resources, and are often used as the foundation for historic resource surveys.

How is a Historic Context Statement structured?

A historic context statement can be organized around a series of broad contexts and themes that are represented through the built environment of a community. A focused narrative discussion is developed for each context and theme. The document also identifies property types associated with each context and theme, as well as eligibility standards and integrity considerations that should be met for these property types to be eligible as historical resources.

What is an architectural survey?

An architectural survey begins with background research of the study area, followed by field work for data collection. Once surveyors are in the study area, they photograph the structures and setting to be included in the survey and record information such as the architectural style of the building, materials used in construction, and the condition of the resource. From there, surveyors will determine which properties to intensively document by reviewing archival records and local history documents. For additional information regarding architectural survey work in Maryland, please visit Maryland Historical Trust’s website.

Who will be preparing the Historic Context Statement and Survey documentation?

Edie Wallace, an independent historian with extensive experience writing context statements and completing architectural survey work, will be the primary preparer of the historic context statement. A critical content reader, yet to be identified, will review the historic context statement. John Murphey, an independent architectural historian also with extensive experience completing multi-property architectural surveys, will be conducting the architectural reconnaissance survey and completing the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties forms. An emerging professional in the architectural historian field will be assisting Mr. Murphey. Ms. Wallace and Mr. Murphey are highly qualified and meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualification Standards.

What are the benefits of this project to the community?

The overall project will provide information about the African American presence and history in Frederick County that will be utilized in further documentation and research. The information gained will be used to build special education and outreach programs that share the history and places. It may lead to property owners nominating their site to the County or National Register of Historic Places, making those designated sites eligible for funding incentives while providing guidance for preservation or restoration of those sites. Surveys also serve as a starting point to incorporating our historic resources into the future development and planning of the area.   

How long will the entire project take?

It is expected to take nearly a year and a half to complete. Grant funding was awarded to Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc. in December 2020 and the project kicked off in February 2021.

Will my property be designated as part of this process?

No. No properties will be formally designated as part of this project. Designation is a completely separate process that is voluntary and subject to public notification, participation, and review.

Can I get involved?

Yes! We encourage everyone to share their knowledge of Frederick County African American history. 

I have more questions. Who should I contact?

Please contact the County’s Historic Preservation Planner, Amanda Whitmore, at for additional questions related to the project.


Recovering Identity: Northern Frederick County Cultural Resource Survey

The Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc. (CFHS), African American Resources Cultural and Heritage Society (AARCH), and Frederick County Government (FCG) have partnered to complete the first phase of the cultural resource survey project. This phase will identity and record extant structures and cultural landscapes associated with African Americans north of Lewistown, east of the Washington County border, west of the Monocacy River, and south of the Pennsylvania border. Beginning with the preparation of a comprehensive historic context statement, the grant will fund architectural survey, inventory, and recordation of previously undocumented African American buildings and landscapes resulting in the preparation of 15 new Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties (MIHP) forms and updating of existing forms.

A team of historians, architectural historians, and emerging professionals will be completing this project over the next year in close collaboration with CFHS, AARCH, and FCG. The Historic Context Statement developed for this region of the County will establish a framework for the evaluation of significant architectural, historical, and cultural resources and can be used as the basis for additional historic resource surveys in the future.

Recovering Identity Grant

Phase 1 Project Timeline

The project team began researching in February 2021. The entire project is expected to be completed by June of 2022. The draft historic context statement should be completed by the Fall of 2021 with draft MIHPs and Survey Report ready by February 2022. Please continue to check back for more information about meeting dates, times, and formats. 

  • December 2020: Grant award announced 
  • February 2021: Census, Moravian Diary, and map research began
  • May 24, 2021: Virtual Public Forum at 7 p.m. Watch the archived video of the public forum here.
  • Spring and Summer 2021: Team will continue historical research, review public input, begin preparing the historic context statement, and begin to perform reconnaissance architectural survey 
  • Summer/Fall 2021: Community outreach meetings
  • October 18, 2021: Virtual Public Forum at 7 p.m. Watch the archived video of the public forum here.
  • Fall 2021: Finish draft of historic context statement and process survey data 
  • Winter 2021: Prepare MIHP forms and survey report 
  • April 2022: Community outreach meeting to inform citizens of results (specific date TBD)
  • June 2022: Submit final files and reports to the Maryland Historical Trust 

3 Historical Buildings