Street Address
10221 Wincopin Cir
Columbia, MD 21044
Mailing Address
10221 Wincopin Cir
Columbia, MD 21044
phone: 410-715-3103
fax: 410-715-3043
Monday - Friday9 AM - 5 PM
There are times that we close to accommodate off-site outreach programs or staff schedules. We are closed on major holidays. Appointments are not necessary, but are strongly encouraged so that we may be able to serve you better.
Ms. Barbara Kellner, Manager
Ms. Robin Emrich, Archivist


Columbia Archives is the primary resource on Columbia and James Rouse as evidenced by the level of researchers and their work. Authors Josh Olson (Better Places, Better Lives, A Biography of James Rouse); Ann Forsyth (ReForming Suburbia); Nicholas Bloom (Suburban Alchemy and Merchant of Illusion: James Rouse); Paul Marx (Jim Rouse Capitalist/Idealist) and Joseph Mitchell and David Stebenne (New City Upon A Hill) and film maker Kim Skeen (Global Harbors) have made extensive use of the collection.

Columbia Archives collections are open to the public. Students, teachers, urban planners, the press, businesses and Columbia residents are among the users of the Columbia Archives. The Archives welcomes all levels of research interest. We encourage Columbia residents who wish to learn more about their community to visit. Researchers are required to register, give a reason for their research and abide by the Policies and Procedures.

Columbia Archives offers limited research service for those unable to visit the facility. A simple question that requires minimal research is free of charge. If your question requires a more in-depth investigation, the staff can conduct limited research. Fees for research are $20 per half hour or portion thereof. Fees will be added for photocopies or scans if applicable.

The Columbia Archives collection documents the planning, development, and continuing physical, institutional, governmental and cultural growth of Columbia, Maryland and the life of its founder James Rouse. Holdings include a wide range of formats with over 700 linear feet of personal papers and organizational records, 6,000 visual images and graphic materials, over 300 audio-visual recordings, and numerous books, reports, local newspapers and artifacts. Taken together, the holdings are a rich resource for investigating any question on Columbia.


Columbia Archives continues to accept donations of material, reach out to the community through events and partnerships, and publishing. We are a partner with the Howard County Library’s This is Your Life Project, an on-going collection of informal oral histories, and with the Columbia Festival of the Arts Lakefest. We recently released Oh, you must live in Columbia! The origins of place names in Columbia, Maryland.

The Columbia Archives grew out of a community initiative. In 1982, long-time Columbia resident Rebecca Orlinsky organized a display of clippings and other ephemera for the Columbia Forum Day of Work. Enthusiasm for the exhibit led to a petition to form an archives to chronicle the history of the then 15-year-old community. A year later the Museum and Archives of the History of Columbia, MD, aka Columbia Archives, was incorporated and Orlinsky and Ruth McCullough began working as volunteers on a daily basis. Donations of materials from those involved in the planning and development of Columbia, as well as residents and others who helped shape the city, began to pour in. Former Rouse Company employees Mickey Dunham and Jeanne Shea, and community activist Norman Winkler, were among the first donors. In 1985 we mounted The Land Puzzle, an exhibit featuring the surveyor’s land plats of the property sold to The Rouse Company for the development of Columbia, photographs of some of the landowners and original drawings of the first concepts of Columbia.

Artifacts Collections

  • James Rouse manuscript collection
  • maps and photographs
  • documents
  • periodicals
  • books