Opinion

Resources in Maine

I recently received my latest issue of American Ancestors magazine published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. This issue features “The Best Genealogical Resources for Maine” and it’s excellent. 

What’s especially great is that it covers all of Maine. I’ve seen a good many guides to Maine genealogy that begin and end with Portland, even ignoring the State Archives and Library in Augusta. If a researcher knew nothing about the state, they’d miss a lot of great possible sources if they limited themselves only to the “big” city in Maine. That sort of thing has led to a half serious joke among some Maine genealogists that the roads here only run south, never north.

Fortunately, NEHGS isn’t one of the “don’t bother with the rest of Maine, there’s nothing there except moose and lobsters” publications. Never fear, they do include Portland’s genealogical resources and rightly so. But they haven’t limited their list to the extreme southern part of the state. After all, if you’re reading this column you most likely hail from the northern two-thirds of the state and you are well aware of the genealogical resources on tap up here in the “far” north, where the polar bears roam the streets (just joking).

NEHGS has assembled a thorough listing of useful publications, transcribed town and county records in print, archives, libraries and organizations, and they’ve mentioned one of my own favorite resources: local historical societies. They outline the numerous Maine resources to be found on the American Ancestors website itself and in their collections. I also appreciated the list of other websites with online Maine records. 

Finally, there are two articles regarding transcribing Maine records and researching ancestors from Maine. As a bonus they’ve included a list of the best historic sites and museums to visit.

All in all I have to give them an A+ for a wonderful and balanced effort. Listing all Maine resources would require several publications but they have done a fine job for not only newbies to Maine genealogical research but those of us who have been researching for years.

I know some of you are asking, “How can I get a copy?” The magazine is free to members. NEHGS is to be found on the web at www.americanancestors.org. Many libraries have subscriptions to NEHGS and they will have a copy. 

You can also contact NEHGS and ask for a short-term or trial membership. But if you join don’t limit yourself to just this one issue. The American Ancestors website is loaded with great databases for researchers. Not only is the American Ancestors magazine included in a membership but the prestigious Register as well. The Register, for those who haven’t seen it, is a journal and the articles more in depth than the American Ancestors magazine. 

Finally NEHGS has a research library on Newbury Street in Boston. It’s well worth a visit — and the roads to Boston from Maine do indeed run south.

Columnist Nancy Battick of Dover-Foxcroft has researched genealogy for over 30 years. She is past president of the Maine Genealogical Society, author of several genealogical articles and co-transcribed the Vital Records of Dover-Foxcroft.  Nancy holds an MA in History from UM and lives in DF with her husband, Jack, another avid genealogist. Reader emails are welcome at nbattick@roadrunner.com.

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