A group of genealogists joined me recently for a tour of my favorite places at Fogler Library on the University of Maine campus in Orono.
A couple of days later, I accepted an invitation to speak at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 15, for the Taconnett Falls Genealogical Society at 10 Lithgow St. in Winslow. My topic will be “Bangor Public Library and UMaine’s Fogler Library — Worth the Trip,” and will put a reminder in Family Ties come July.
But that is a ways off, so walk along with me right now as we discover that the bulk of genealogy resources in the University of Maine library are clustered around two focal points in Fogler, which is in the middle of the University of Maine campus.
Fogler offers both great hours and unique resources, which is one reason I like to drop by on a Sunday afternoon. That’s right. This outstanding facility is open seven days a week much of the time to serve students, faculty and the community (that’s us).
Before you go, you can check out hours online and see floor plans for Fogler at library.umaine.edu and clicking on “About the Library.” Or you can call the library hours line to listen to the recording at 581-1664.
Focal point 1 at Fogler is the microfilm reading room, with entrance off the hall down the middle of the first floor. It doesn’t look like much — shelves of microfilm and two rows of microfilm reader-printers.
Entering the door opposite the microfiche room, turn left immediately. Down by your left hand is the bookcase with the index books to U.S. Census records for Maine, 1790-1870. These list the heads of household by surname for Maine.
In front of your nose — take a step forward — you’ll find the shelves for Maine Vital Records, 1892-1955, by surname alphabetically. If you choose the reel that includes Saucier, 1892-1907, for example, here’s what you will find, and in what order:
First are 1892 births for Sauciers, then marriages, then deaths. Next come 1893 births for Sauciers, then marriages, then deaths. You get the picture.
To the right of the VR microfilm is Fogler’s U.S. Census collection, especially Maine 1790-1930. These are organized by county. Keep in mind that 1790-1840 census records list only the head of household by name; other family members are categorized by age and gender. Censuses list every person in the household beginning in 1850, but they don’t indicate until 1880 how each person is related to the head of household.
The year 1880 is also when the census started asking each person his or her birthplace by state or country, and that of each parent.
Most of the country’s 1890 Census was burned, but the 1900 Census offers a real gem — the month and year of birth for each person.
You will find reels for some New England states among the U.S. Census microfilm. These are mostly pre-1850 records which list only head of household by name. There are also some Canadian census records for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec, not indexed.
The bulk of the rest of the microfilm in this room comprises newspapers on film, from daily papers such as the Bangor Daily News to old issues of weeklies such as the Piscataquis Observer.
Now let’s take the elevator up to the third floor of Fogler Library. We are going to bear left slightly to find Canadian and New England resources in the “F” section.
• “History of the Acadians” by Bona Arsenault, six volumes of genealogy by surname, F1038.A73.
• “Vital Records of Marshfield, Massachusetts,” F74.M4 S47.
• “Ontario’s African-Canadian Heritage,” F1059.7.N3 L36 2009.
Those are examples that will get you to the sections that include local history and genealogies for non-Maine locations.
All the resources I’ve listed so far are available whenever the library is open. The shelves offer plenty of opportunity for browsing. Please put items back on the carts set out for staff to find them for reshelving after you use them.
Also on the third floor is the Special Collections department, which does have restricted hours because it includes many rare or unique items. This was called the Maine Room when I attended UMaine in the early 1970s.
Entering Special Collections, you will sign in and leave a MaineCard or ID. Take only a pencil and paper with you. Check the hours before you go. The department is generally open weekdays until 4 p.m. When school is in session, it stays open until 7 p.m. twice a week and also offers hours on Saturdays.
The department is not a huge space. Browsing is fine, but you may find yourself thinking that Bangor Public Library and Maine State Library have more local history and genealogy books. They do!
Fogler’s Special Collections has a special strength in manuscript collections, everything from U.S. Sen. William Cohen’s papers to writings by Fanny Hardy Eckstorm on Indians to day books for old businesses. Many of these are not held in the department itself, but stored in a separate annex and brought to Special Collections by requesting them in advance.
So do check out their manuscript collections and other items ahead of time at library.umaine.edu/speccoll. Let the department know about a week ahead of time if you want to use a resource that might need to be brought in. Some items can be photocopied, and some cannot. Ask for information.
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.