Genealogy of Maine digitized via Maine Memory Network

Part of the Maine Historical Society website, the network has been named one of the top state websites for genealogy in the country.

MAINE, Maine – There’s an easy way – right at your fingertips – to follow the history and genealogy of Maine. With the click of a mouse on your computer, you can access letters, journals, architectural drawings, images of clothing and tools – even the city of Portland’s tax records from the 1920s.

It’s all part of the Maine Historical Society’s Maine Memory Network in Portland. The website has just been named one of the top state genealogy websites in the country.

The Maine Historical Society is the third oldest historical society in the United States. To access much of its collection, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home.

“The Maine Memory Network is a digital history platform. It is a consortium hosted and operated by the Maine Historical Society, but it includes nearly 300 contributing partners,” said MHS Deputy Director Jamie Rice.

Most contributing partners, such as the Maine State Library and the Maine State Archives, are in-state because the content is Maine-focused. For example, some partners are out of state, such as the National Archives and the Boston Public Library. All contributed content must be on Maine history.

“We’ve been collecting focusing on family history, genealogy, since about the 1920s, when it really became a popular kind of hobby, and we’ve expanded those resources. And we’re still collecting. is definitely growing. The more resources available online – you can go deeper and deeper into genealogy than you ever could have before online, “said Rice.

The collection has been built up over the past 20 years.

“We also have thematic exhibits and a collective Maine history section called ‘Maine History Online’ which helps contextualize Maine history, which can be a great source for genealogists if they want to understand what was going on in the state when their ancestors lived here, ”Rice continued.

Maine Memory Network has now achieved national recognition by being named one of Family Tree Magazine’s Top State Websites for Genealogy for 2021.

“There are a lot of people who don’t live in Maine who really connect with this place who might have had ancestors who lived here or spent time here, or their ancestors spent time here. of our nationwide site helps attract people who may be out of state to the Maine Historical Society and our contributing partners and in some way help bring Maine history to the fore, ”a Rice said.

Navigating the website is a bit like opening the door to a huge museum and being allowed to walk around – visit one exhibit after another.

“It really helped to focus on digital history and the importance of digital history and to make things accessible online. Certainly, we care about the material and our collections that are here, just like the repository or the people who host their content online, “says Rice.” And that will never replace seeing things in person. But it really gives people the opportunity to experience things that they might not otherwise have been able to do, especially during a global pandemic. “

While MHS can share its collections, individuals can also contribute from their personal collections by uploading photos or other items, and MHS offers free training to do so. Contributors can also add written audio and video stories through the “My Maine Stories” platform. The website is home to nearly 50,000 articles and receives visitors every day.

There is a lot to explore once you start browsing the website. Rice highlights an area that receives a lot of traffic.

“One of the most popular items is the 1924 tax record for the city of Portland which can give you an overview of every building taxable in Portland in 1924, which is a fun activity if people had ancestors who lived there. here at that time, ”she said.

A favorite part of the website is “The Mystery Corner”, where photos are posted and where people can help identify people or locations in the images.

“We have photographs from Dave Astor’s show, so we put a few online and asked people to help us identify who was on the show. We got really good feedback,” said Rice.

The database is huge. The Maine Historical Society will launch new initiatives across the network in the coming months, exploring architecture and landscape in Maine and a project exploring colonial land records. Maine Memory Network is a free, open database – you don’t need to be a member of the Maine Historical Society. Go to MaineMemory.net to explore all the different components.


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