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Welcome to the "ABC"s
of Maine Genealogical Research!

This page was written to help everyone (kids as well as adults) who are new to researching the history of their family who lived in the State of Maine.  This page was constructed through the collaboration of the volunteers of the MEGenWeb Project.  We have included some basic information to help you on your way to finding out about your Maine ancestors. 

A brief Introduction to Genealogy on the Internet

The internet can be a puzzling place.  Trying to research your family's history can also be puzzling, not to mention frustrating.  Trying to learn how to do genealogy on the internet can be over-whelming! 

If using e-mail, doing genealogy, or both, are new to you, this page was written with you in mind!  While not all of your questions will be answered here, this page is meant to help clarify how to succeed in your attempt at genealogy on the internet and possibly make the road less frustrating. 

We'll start with e-mail . . .

Why not type in ALL CAPITALS? 
This is considered to be SHOUTING! although some people, using it sparingly, intend it to be used for emphasis.  The proper way to specify emphasis in e-mail is by surrounding the word or phrase you want to emphasize with asterisks (*).  Here is an example:

Genealogy on the internet can be fun, *but* there are a few things you need to learn first.

Some Common E-mail terms that may be puzzling (Acronymns):

LOL = Laughing Out Loud
TIA = Thanks In Advance
TTYL = Talk To You Later
ROTFL = Rolling On The Floor Laughing
ROFL = Rolling On Floor Laughing
ROTFLOL = Rolling On The Floor Laughing Out Loud
BTW = By The Way
IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
IMO = In My Opinion
FWIW = For What It's Worth
FYI = For Your Information
<g> = grin

Some examples of "e-mail smiles":

nose-less smile            :) 
 smile with nose             :-)
 left-handed smile        (-:
   laughing                         :-D
   Oh, no!                           :-O

Remember that underlined text on a webpage may be hyper-linked; click on the link to go to the new page.

Where should I look for help?

The Maine GenWeb Project provides many resources you can use to help in your genealogical search.  The MaineGenWeb Project has a site for each county in Maine as well as several town sites.  One of the best ways to find information is to ask others who are researching in the same area of Maine for help.  The mailing lists for the various counties in Maine are an excellent way of meeting others researching the county your ancestors lived in.  Each county site also provides a place where you can post queries.  The county sites as well as the MaineGenWeb sites are the first places you should visit in your internet search.   One particular mailing list is the GEN-NEWBIE discussion for people who are new to computers and genealogy.  Finally, all mailing lists have an "archive" where you can read "back issues".  Don't pass up on this valuable resource. 

Where can old documents be found?

There are many places where you can find old books and other records telling about your Maine ancestors.  Many out-of-print rare books have been filmed and are available on microfilm or microfiche so, even if you don't live anywhere near Maine, you still have access to the records.  The census records have been microfilmed and are widely available. 

There are genealogy libraries scattered throughout the world.  Here is a list of a few in the U. S. (this is not a complete list):

Library of Congress
National Archives (NARA) -- check their site for branch libraries throughout the U. S.  Many American Military records are also available. 
LDS Library in Salt Lake City -- check their site for branch libraries throughout the U. S.  The holdings of the Library are now on-line!  See the catalog at the Family Search site. 

Within the State of Maine, there are many libraries that have books and other sources of information on our ancestors who lived in Maine.  Even the little libraries in Maine contain holdings which are valuable to the genealogical researcher.  The larger holdings are found at the following places in Maine:

Maine State Archives
LMA Building
State House Station 84
Augusta, ME  04333

Maine State Library (in same building as the Maine State Archives)
State House Station #64
Augusta, ME 04333

Bangor Public Library
145 Harlow Street
Bangor, ME 04401

Belfast Free Library
46 High Street
Belfast, ME 04915

Madawaska Historical Society Library
Main Street
Madawaska, ME 04756

The Raymond H. Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469

Maine Historical Society Library
The Center for Maine History
485 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101
(An exceptional library.  They also have a repository of a tremendous amount of "stuff" - old papers, and unpublished manuscripts, etc. that have to be handled with white gloves, etc.

Portland Public Library
5 Monument Square
Portland, Maine 04101

Dyer Library
York Institute Museum
371 Maine Street
Saco, ME 04072
207-283-3861 or 207-282-3031

Stephen Phillips Memorial Library
Penobscot Marine Museum
Church Street
Searsport, ME 04974

Springvale Public Library
226 Main Street
Springvale ME 04083

Historical Society of Wells and Ogunquit
Meetinghouse Museum and Library
P. O. Box 801/Post Road
Wells, ME 04090

Bowdoin College Library
on Park Row in Brunswick, Maine. 
This library has a good selection of books on Maine, some books of vital records for specific towns, old phone books, newspapers on fiche, census summaries and a host of other interesting things - including a special collections room with very old papers, diaries, etc.  It is a large college library (founded in 1790), open whenever school is in session and usually from 10-5 when it's not. 

Farmington Public 
has a great genealogy library.  Through the efforts of the Sandy River Chapter of the MGS, and previous donors - Natalie & Ben Butler, and pressure from the "masses" of genealogists who have used the library over the years, they have a pretty good collection - lots of the reference books have to do with Franklin County, but there's information on oth Maine places, too.  (Keep in mind the MGS started in Farmington in 1976.) 

UMF library in Farmington 
has a good resource.  Census records on microfilm; census indexes from 1790-1850.  They have a LOT of town histories. 

Wilton Public Library 
has some stuff that Farmington doesn't have.  They have a lot of material on microfische - cemetery info that Farmington doesn't have.  Some town histories, etc. Farmington doesn't have.

Phillips Library 
has a LOT of info on the Phillips/Madrid/Avon area.  They have copies of the old Phillips Phonograph (newspaper) that has a LOT of info. 

Some of these libraries are on-line; for information on the libraries in Maine that are on-line, see the Maine Libraries on the World Wide Web.

LDS Family History Centers in Maine

639 Grandview Avenue
Bangor, ME 04401

Cape Elizabeth
29 Ocean House Road
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107

67 West Hardison Avenue
Caribou, ME 04736

4 Hasson Street
Farmingdale, ME 04344
207-582-1827 or 207-623-1755

Skeetfield Road
Oxford, ME   04270
(207) 743-8125

     Primary records and the actual records of birth, marriage, death, obituaries, census records, gravestones, military records, pensions, wills, deeds, land records, court records, etc.  They were taken "at the time" and not written by someone years later.  This is not to say that primary records don't contain errors, but consulting primary records not only greatly decreases the chance of an error being made (after an analysis is made using several primary records if necessary), but this is what makes genealogy so much fun!  For a genealogist at heart, there is nothing quite as thrilling as finding a record of your ancestor after spending hours (and sometimes years) searching through records!  Especally when this information turns up a bit of information on your family that you had never seen before.  Fortunately, the internet has made collecting primary records easier as information on where you might obtain the records as well as actual typed copies (transcriptions) of the records can be found.  There are GenConnect boards for posting obituaries, deeds, wills, probate records, Bible records and biographies for various Maine counties as well as surname GenConnect boards which you should consult.
     In addition to referring to primary records, consulting history books to learn about the time and place your ancestors lived in can also be very revealing and rewarding and can bring the names and dates you've collected "to life".   Some suggested book for reading about Maine are:

by Henry E. Dunnack, Librarian of Maine State Library
Augusta, Maine 1920
Copyright, 1920, by Henry E. Dunnack

by Henry S. Burrage, D. D.
Portland, Me.:  Marks Printing House, Printers.  1904.

Built prior to 1776
by Emma Huntington Nason
Augusta, Maine 1908

Other Sources of information on Maine

Maine Genealogical Society series "Maine Families in 1790" (6 volumes) 

MODERN MAINE (1951, Lewiston Hist. Press) 

New England Historic and Genealogical Society -- they put out a good breakdown of records, counties, and towns of New England.

"Length & Breadth of Maine" by Stanley Bearce Atwood -- it gives old town names, which is a tremendous help.  It also gives the towns in the counties, with maps of their locations.  It gives the breakdown on the counties and their establishment dates; this particular bit of information is a tremendous help for searching census records.

1790 Census index

Local histories for various towns

Vital Records for various towns

Some questions you should ask yourself before asking someone else for information, posting a query, or posting a message to a mailing list are: 

When was he born and where did he live? 
What were his parents' names and when and where did they live?
Did he have any siblings?  If so, what were their names and where and when were they born?
What were his wife's (or wives') name?  When and where did they marry?
What were the names of their children?
When and where were the children born?
When or where did he die? Where is he buried?  How about his wife and their children?

These questions may lead you to realize you have more information than you thought!  Now, how can you go about finding more information on your grandfather and his family? 

Have you checked with other relatives to see if someone in the family has an old Bible with family information written in it?  Bibles can be wonderful sources of genealogical information.

If you know when and where your grandfather (or whatever ancestor you are looking for) died, you may be able to find an obituary and/or death certificate on him.  What will this tell you?  The information varies and one never knows until they look!  Don't expect to find everything about him in one source and you need to realize that there are often errors in any source (even those "written in stone" such as a grave marker!)  Which brings us to cemetery records -- what can they tell us about our ancestors?  Again, the information varies, but you may find a date of birth for him and you may find graves of other family members who were buried nearby. 

Other sources of information on your ancestors may be:
Vital records which in Maine are kept at the Town Clerk's office.  These include marriage, birth and death records.  Not all events have been recorded and this is especially true of those during and previous to the 19th Century.  The Maine State Archives has on-line databases for both deaths (1960-1996) and marriages (1892-1966).  There is also a partial listing of Maine Marriages previous to 1892 posted on-line.  In addition, you can search the Social Security Death Index which contains deaths from about the 1940s until the present (this database is updated on a monthly basis).

Search the Social Security Death Index (SSDI)
Last name
First Name
Census records, deeds, wills, probate records and military records are all other souces you should look for in your search.  Many of the census records have been indexed by state and you should begin looking in these indices for your ancestors, starting with the most recent census that is available to the public (this is the 1920 census).  Work your way backwards to the 1910, then 1900, 1880 (the 1890 census was mostly destroyed), 1870, 1860 and 1850 censuses.  These census records contain the name of every person who was living in the household at the time the census was taken.  For earlier census records (1840 on back to 1790 (the first census taken in the U. S.)), there is only the name of the head of household listed but everyone else who was living in the household is represented by a tally according to their age and sex.  You may want to check to see what census records have been transcribed and are already on-line by going to the Maine GenWeb Census Project.  The Maine Archives Project is another place you should search for records that are already on-line. 

Keep in mind that when the records were written, they were NOT necessarily written with the thought that someone who comes along years later will be using them to search for their family history!  Even books written on your family can contain errors and the best way to be sure you're not "climbing up the wrong tree" is to verify the information by comparing it to a copy (or microfilm) of the original document.

Links to Other Helpful Sites

US GenWeb Kidz Project

RootsWeb Archive of Maine Holdings

Brae's Genealogy for Kids

Ancestry's Database - New databases added at this site are FREE TO BROWSE for 10 DAYS!

Prince Edward Island Dept. of Education

Kaufman County, TX newbies page

Citing Electronic Information in History Papers (a collegiate-type site) 

Savage's New England Settlers -- half way down the page you will see this below A-C D-J K-R S-Z 

Cyndi Howell's "Mother of All Genealogy Links List" - Maine resources
Vital Records
Books We Own
WWW Genealogical Index
Genealogical Resources on the Internet
Genealogy Web Search Tools

Historical Records Repositories in Maine  (Collections by Period, Subject, and Types of Records) 

URSUS  On-line catalog of holdings at University of Maine

Maine Town Clerks

Directory of the Names of Underground Railroad Operators   (The names of African American operators are marked with an asterisk *) (fun for grown-ups, too!)

The Learning Center


Click to go to the MEGenWeb Project Home Page

 Written by Abby Balderama, Dana Edgecomb, Tina Vickery, David C. Young, Marilyn Maxwell Strout, Barbara Gunvaldsen, Nancy J. Porter, Linda Allen, Marilyn Gondek.
Copyright © 2000 by Abby Balderama