Ladson Research Library

The Ladson Research Library and Archives features an extensive collection of primary source documents and photographs related to the history of the Sandy Spring community, as well as secondary source materials on regional history. The non-lending library is open to the public.

Professional and avocational researchers will find a treasure trove of information in the archives, with staff and volunteers ready to answer preliminary research questions submitted in person, over the telephone, or via email at no charge.  To pull primary source material or make digital copies, there is a daily flat fee of $35 for non-members and no charge for museum members.

Jean Thomas Ladson

The Ladson Research Library is named for Jean Thomas Ladson (1916-2010), a longtime supporter and benefactor of Sandy Spring Museum. Born in Montgomery County, Jean was a past president of the National Capital Area Federation of Garden Clubs, a member of the Women’s Board of the Montgomery General Hospital, and a member of the Women’s Mutual Improvement Association of Sandy Spring. She was an accomplished floral designer and, even after moving to Florida in 1978, continued to spend part of each year in Olney with her husband of 56 years, Thomas Ladson, until his death in 2004.


Do I need research assistance?

Research assistance is available at the Sandy Spring Museum. You can either visit the archives and have records pulled to search yourself, or you can submit a question via email to have it answered for you.

Why is there a fee for using the materials in the archives?

The Sandy Spring Museum is a non-profit institution that operates without dedicated funding from federal, state or county agencies.  Maintaining the archives is costly.  Fees help pay for staff, archival supplies, and maintaining proper environmental conditions to preserve the collection.

Is there a charge to have scans of photographs made?

Yes.  Charges vary depending on the intended use.  Please email the library for information about image reproduction.

How much does it cost to use the archives?

Museum members are permitted to use the archives free of charge, whether in person or submitting questions via email.

Non-members who come in-person are charged a daily fee of $10.

Non-members who submit written questions are charged an hourly fee of $25, after receiving the ½ hour of complementary research.

How long will it take to get my research question answered?

You can expect to receive an estimate of the time to complete the question within two weeks of your initial email.  The estimate will include the types of materials available, the number of hours needed, and the fee.  You will receive your information as soon as possible after agreeing to make the contribution.

Can I come in person instead of contacting you via email?

The non-lending library is available when the Museum is open, as long as there is not a private event occurring. However, the archives are not open when the Collections Manager is not on site.  If you prefer to come in person, it is best to make an appointment by email.

How can I find out if the archives has information that is relevant to my question?

Please email the library.  The Collections Manager offers up to ½ hour of complimentary assistance per inquiry.  This allows time to determine if there are materials that will answer your question.

What kind of information is in the archives?

The collection includes papers, photographs, and objects documenting over 200 years of local history. Highlights include:

  • The rural economy (18th through 20th century) – farming, milling, lumbering, orchard and dairy industries, tobacco, slavery, and freedom
  • Transportation – the C&O canal, the B&O railroad, roads, horses, oxen, wagons, carriages, and early automobiles
  • Education – primary through university level, innovations, schools for girls, schools for African Americans
  • Life in the rural villages that preceded today’s megalopolis – general store records, family history, historic homes, land deeds, and marriage and birth records
  • An index to Montgomery County manumission records listed by slave owner and the name of the person freed

The original minutes of many of Sandy Spring’s early social and agricultural clubs and the six volumes of the Annals of Sandy Spring, begun by Quakers in 1863, chronicling a century of community history, the longest such record in the nation.

Can I use my camera to take photos of documents or photographs without a fee?

Yes, without a flash.  Such images are for private use only.