Maine and Local History Collection
Despite the growing ease of conducting genealogy research online, a lot of great information about family histories is still unavailable on the internet. FCL’s collection of local histories can provide much context for the times and places our ancestors inhabited. Many of these publications even include chapters dedicated to the genealogies of early or prominent families from various areas of Maine. You can search our online catalog for the towns, cities, or counties your family is from and find out right from home if we may have any publications pertinent to your research. (Friendly tip: stick to the ‘KEYWORD’ search for best results.)
FCL also has many collections of vital records from towns and cities throughout Maine. These publications are a great way to track down information about the births, marriages, and deaths that have been recorded throughout Maine’s history. If you know your family lived in one of the municipalities we have, you can work backwards through the generations using these books to identify who you are descended from and related to.
If your family is from nearby, you may be so fortunate as to have your family’s history already researched and published in our collection of local family histories! These aren’t always 100% accurate, but they can sure get you started on the right path. It doesn’t hurt to try typing the last names of your kin into our catalog and see what comes up. Maybe you’ll luck out!
But don’t ever feel that you have to navigate our collection alone. There’s always Genealogy Hour, plus the FCL staff is happy to help people figure out which books might contain the information they need. Just ask us!
Collection Highlight: The Dunning Books
The Bartol Room’s reference collection includes the Dunning books. Colonel Thurlow R. Dunning, who died in the mid-1970’s, compiled notebooks of Freeport family history that have been indexed by family name, copied and bound. Colonel Dunning also made lists of inscriptions he found on headstones in local cemeteries and we also have these on record. Several of the Dunning books and a few other items have been scanned and are available online at the Digital Maine Repository.
Collection Highlight: Local Genealogy Books (you can click on the covers below and use the ‘Request’ feature to put the book on hold)
Online Genealogical Resources
Genealogy research has been greatly simplified by the proliferation of online genealogical resources. These websites typically allow users to search for their families using a variety of methods. There are some great free websites out there as well as a number of typically paywalled sites that FCL patrons can access for free!
Websites FCL patrons can access for free:
- Ancestry (Library Edition) – Onsite at FCL Only (you can use your own device as long as you’re connected to our wifi, but no remote access).
- Ancestry contains literally billions of individual census, obituary, immigration and vital records that are keyword searchable. Many include digital scans of the original documents (sometimes you can see your ancestor’s own handwriting!). Ancestry Library Edition provides access to many of the records Ancestry owns, which can be downloaded or printed by patrons to keep.
- Library Edition users cannot, however, attach records to an online family tree the way that paid subscribers can. There are also collections on the site (particularly international ones) that are inaccessible to Library Edition users.
- Maine State Library has provided this Ancestry video tutorial from Niche Academy to introduce new users to the site.
- MyHeritage (Library Edition)
- MyHeritage contains internationally diverse genealogy databases. Users have access to billions of historical documents, millions of historical photos and resources that span the past five centuries.
- Remote access from home is allowed and the site is mobile-friendly.
- Click here for the how to use MyHeritage Library Edition video tutorial.
Some other quality free websites:
- Family Search – Requires users to sign up, but at no cost.
- Find A Grave
- Searchable database of cemeteries from all over the world. Individual grave markers are given online memorials that contain vital information about the individual and some include biographies, obituaries, photos and/or links to the memorials of relatives.
- Cyndi’s List
- Curated collection of links to many other online genealogy resources organized by locations and/or topics.
- Family History for Kids – Library of Congress Research Guide
- A great resource for getting children started with genealogy.
- Use the menu on the left side of the introduction page to find all the provided information and materials.
- Special thanks to Isaac for suggesting this addition to our page!
- Library of Congress Genealogy Research Guides
- The LOC hosts 50+ other online research guides covering a wide variety of family history topics.
- Great for beginners or anyone struggling with their research.
- Here are just a few of the useful guides they offer:
Genealogy Hour is a weekly opportunity to drop-in and get assistance with your family history questions. Andrew will be available to help you navigate online resources on sites like Ancestry.com, scour the family history materials available in our collection, or help you identify where else you might be able to track down your ancestor’s information. Whether you are brand new to genealogical research or a seasoned genealogist, all are welcome to bring in their questions.
These events are always free and open to the public. Days and times have changed seasonally and we occasionally need to cancel individual sessions, so please check our Calendar of Events for upcoming sessions!
To make the most of your visit, try to arrive with your own laptop and any or all of the following information:
- Dates and/or Locations of your Ancestor’s…
- (Approximations are better than nothing!)
- Names of your Ancestor’s close relatives
- Maiden Names of any Female Ancestors
Hope to see you there!
Other Genealogy Resources
One of the realities of doing genealogy is that there is no one-stop-shop for researching one’s family history. Beyond what FCL can offer, there are a lot of great resources nearby and online that provide access to other resources genealogists need.
If You Seek:
- Family Histories
- Research Help
Other Places to Check Out:
- Freeport Historical Society
- Maine Historical Society
- Portland Public Library
- Cumberland County residents can get a free PPL card!
- PPL card holders can access HeritageQuest. It’s especially helpful for searching specific Maine earlier census records, even with partial names (ones where only head of family is listed with number counts for other family members), so you could look for every “J Smith” in Maine for a certain census year.
- Anyone can visit their Portland Room, where they house complete sets of Portland City Directories, microfilmed Maine Vital Records up to 1955, and microfilmed Portland newspapers.
- The Portland Room also offers the Maine News Index and Jordan Index of Maine newspaper abstracts dating back to the 1780s.
- Portland Room staff are also available for free research assistance and can search for Maine obituaries for a fee.
- Maine State Library
- Maine Old Cemetery Association
- A great resource for tracking down Maine relative’s gravesites.
- Has members throughout the state who have special knowledge of little-known cemeteries.