UM library offers old town reports on Web

Posted April 17, 2009, at 6:33 p.m.

Old town reports often contained such gems as births, marriages and deaths for the previous year. These are a few of the deaths — with cause of death — listed in the 1920 town report for Guilford:

Electra Bendinelli, 70, died May 15, 1919, of malignant jaundice.

Fred H. Herring, 61, died Aug. 1, 1919, of Bright’s disease, a kidney ailment.

Everett Tracy, 27, died Oct. 18, 1919, of tuberculosis.

Zadoc L. Turner, 81, died Dec. 9, 1919, of acute heart failure.

Susie Smith, 76, died Jan. 27, 1920, of apoplexy.

Let’s thank the University of Maine’s Fogler Library for the most recent of its long series of gifts to genealogy, the Town Report Digitization Project that is bringing Maine town reports to our computer screens.

Historical data, budgets, infrastructure, education — it’s all there, thanks to Fogler’s partnership with Maine State Library, whose print holdings of reports for more than 500 towns is the most extensive in the state with holdings going back to the 1850s.

Visit town reports project at www.library.umaine.edu/townreport

The project is still ramping up, so what you’ll find are select town reports that are available. Here’s what I found for digitized town reports online as of April 15, 2009:

— Albion: 1866-1868, 1870-1887, 1889-1899.

— Alfred: 1906, 1910-1924.

— Auburn: 1860, 1872, 1876, 1878-1880, 1882-1883, 1891.

— Augusta: 1857-1867, 1869-1871, 1882-1893, 1899-1905.

— Bath: 1850-1851, 1853, 1856-1857, 1860-1863, 1869, 1898, 1908, 1916, 1920.

— Belfast: 1902, 1910-1911, 1917-1918, 1924, 1926.

— Brunswick: 1867, 1882, 1889, 1891-1897.

— Cherryfield: 1894, 1912, 1917, 1927, 1932-1934.

— Cutler: 1943-1944, 1946-1950.

— Deer Isle: 1941-1942, 1944-1949.

— Dover: 1898, 1909, 1913-1915.

— Dover-Foxcroft: 1922-1929.

— Eastport: 1917, 1920, 1926.

— Ellsworth: 1878, 1899, 1911, 1933, 1942-1943, 1945-1946, 1949.

— Farmington: 1863-1866, 1891-1903, 1917, 1919, 1920-1925.

— Fort Kent: 1947, 1949-1951.

— Foxcroft: 1904, 1906-1908, 1913.

— Gardiner: 1851-1855, 1857-1859, 1860-1861, 1863-1865, 1867-1869, 1872-1876, 1878, 1880-1889, 1891-1901.

— Guilford: 1897-1899, 1900-1920.

— Hallowell: 1853-1880.

— Houlton: 1885, 1934.

— Jonesport: 1914, 1925, 1928, 1938-1939.

— Kittery: 1853, 1856-1857, 1860-1862, 1867-1869, 1871-1872.

— Lewiston: 1858-1859, 1862-1879, 1890, 1914.

— Litchfield: 1869-1870, 1872-1876, 1878, 1881-1899.

— Machias: 1915, 1920-1921, 1927-1928, 1930.

— Manchester: 1860, 1868-1869, 1873-1875, 1877-1920.

— Old Town: 1870-1872, 1874, 1877-1878, 1880-1888, 1893.

— Paris: 1878, 1887-1888, 1897, 1906, 1924-1925, 1928.

— Portland: 1843-1847, 1849-1854, 1870-1871, 1878-1880.

— Rockland: 1857, 1863, 1869-1871, 1875, 1878, 1880-1881, 1883.

— Rumford: 1881, 1926.

— Skowhegan: 1864-1865, 1877-1883, 1885-1898, 1900-1903.

— Skowhegan Village Corporation: 1901-1902.

— Thomaston: 1893, 1900-1907.

— Winthrop: 1877-1879, 1881-1883, 1885-1895.

— Wiscasset: 1878-1880, 1882, 1884-1885, 1887-1890.

Here’s an excerpt from the 1871 Augusta Town Report:

“The Kennebec bridge, at one time almost a wreck, has been thoroughly repaired as to be as strong and safe as ever. In place of the wooden and decaying railroad bridge, swept off by the flood, now stands a bridge of iron 960 feet long, a model of strength and beauty, and a lasting monument of the genius of its inventor, and of the energy and forecast of its owners.”

Fogler Library hopes to add the participation of historical societies and town offices to bring more information to the project.

The Litchfield Historical Society already has done so.

“We are very excited about having the Litchfield Historical Society step forward to offer the town reports that they have scanned, “ said Sharon Quinn Fitzgerald, head of technical services and library Web manager. “We encourage other towns to take the initiative in scanning their local holdings. The essential ingredient is staff time, often volunteers willing to take part in the emerging community project.”

For information on how to participate in the project, e-mail Sharon Quinn Fitzgerald at quinn@maine.edu.

The Web site includes town highlights as well as photographs from the Penobscot Marine Museum’s extensive glass plate image archive, also at www.glassplateimages.com.

Kjerste Christensen, who oversees file preparation at Fogler Library, said, “We are happy to go over the specs with staff just learning to work with digital publishing software. We can accept files as JPEG images or in Adobe PDF format.”

Fogler Library will continue to host the files, link them to the central Web site, and provide optical character recognition of the documents that enables full text searching.

Where available, towns are visually represented by distinctive seals, which often depict a sense of the strengths or values of a particular community.

To this new project, we say, “Bravo!”

···

The Orono Historical Society will celebrate the 200th birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and his first vice president, Hannibal Hamlin, at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23, at the Orono Town Council Chambers, 59 Main St.

The presenter will be Richard Newcomb, who ably portrays Hamlin. The event is free and open to the all. Hamlin memorabilia will be on display. Birthday cake will be served.

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail queries to familyti@bangordailynews.net.

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