Genealogists of long standing remember well when obtaining birth, marriage and death records was a one-at-a-time thing. Accumulating the records needed to join a lineage society, for example, could get quite expensive as well as time-consuming.
But 10 years ago, the Maine State Archives decided to make a whole group of records available at seven facilities around the state, in addition to the Archives itself. Therefore, we can view vital records for 1892-1955 on microfilm at Augusta, Maine State Library; Orono, University of Maine Fogler Library; Portland, Maine Historical Society; Portland, Portland Public Library; Presque Isle, University of Maine at Presque Isle Library; Searsport, Penobscot Marine Museum; and Springvale, Springvale Public Library.
The individual images do vary in quality because these are copies of microfilm. I was able to read my parents’ marriage record but not my birth record.
These vital records are organized alphabetically, then by year. For example, to find a Bennett birth from 1939, you would choose the microfilm for that part of the alphabet for 1937-55. You would find Bennett births for 1937, then marriages, then deaths; then the same for 1938, and so on.
The facilities mentioned above also have microfilm reels for 1892-1907, 1908-22 and 1923-36. I have found the earlier years to be of better quality overall.
During the summer, especially, it’s wise to check the hours for the library you want to visit. For instance, Fogler Library on the University of Maine campus in Orono is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1-5 p.m. Sunday during the summer.
Vital records and Maine census records and newspapers on microfilm are all available in the microfilm reader room on the first floor. Moreover, many of the reader-printer machines will let you make printed copies free. Remember that the next time you see a University of Maine bond issue on the ballot.
On another subject, If you’ve used the Bangor Room at Bangor Public Library, you know that one easy way to get there is to go in the children’s room entrance on the ground floor, take the elevator to the third floor, turn right and go to the end of the hall.
But if you turn left from the elevator, you’ll come upon all manner of nonfiction, including “Collections of the New York Historical Society.” For 1914 and 1915, these include some Revolutionary Muster Rolls, including artillery, Canadian troops, Connecticut troops, Continental infantry, Massachusetts troops, New Hampshire troops and New Jersey troops.
The call number for this resource is 974.7.N55. Other volumes in the series include “Abstract of Wills on File in the Surrogate’s Office City of New York.”
Speaking of New York state, here is a useful tip if you decide to go there to do genealogical research. Each county has its own historian who holds office hours a few hours a week. Valdine Atwood of Machias went back to New York to do some personal research and met with the historian pertaining to the county she wanted to research.
If you have done online research in New York such as checking out some of the cemeteries that have inscriptions online, you may have seen the notation “Compiled by county historian …” I found this to be so while perusing some of the cemetery listings for Greene County.
For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.