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Brief History

The following important events in the history of Maine affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements.

  • 1607-1632: English settlements were begun at Saco, Biddeford, Scarboro, Cape Elizabeth, and Portland.
  • 1632-1759: Troubles with the French and Indians continued until the fall of Quebec in 1759.
  • 1677: Massachusetts purchased the Gorges rights to the province of Maine.
  • 1716-1760: The entire area was called York, a county of Massachusetts. Many of Maine's early residents are listed in Massachusetts records.
  • 1760: Lincoln and Cumberland counties were formed. These counties and York were called the Province of Maine of the Massachusetts Bay Colony until 1779, when the area became known as the District of Maine.
  • 1816-1819: Severe winters, rocky soil, and limited opportunities influenced the emigration of many inhabitants.
  • 1820:  Became a state as part of the Missouri Comprimise.
  • 1819-1820: Maine was officially separated from Massachusetts in 1819 and became a state in (March 15,)1820.
  • 1838-1839: Some 10,000 troops from Maine were called into service during the Aroostook War to settle a boundary dispute between Maine and New Brunswick. The dispute was settled by treaty in 1842.
  • 1861-1865: About 72,000 men from Maine served in the Union armed forces during the Civil War.
  • 1898: Over 300,000 men were involved in the Spanish-American War which was fought mainly in Cuba and the Philippines.
  • 1917–1918: More than 26 million men from the United States ages 18 through 45 registered with the Selective Service. World War I over 4.7 million American men and women served during the war.
  • 1930's: The Great Depression closed many factories and mills. Many small farms were abandoned, and many families moved to cities.
  • 1940–1945: Over 50.6 million men ages 18 to 65 registered with the Selective Service. Over 16.3 million American men and women served in the armed forces during World War II.
  • 1950–1953: Over 5.7 million American men and women served in the Korean War.
  • 1950's–1960's The building of interstate highways made it easier for people to move long distances.
  • 1964–1972: Over 8.7 million American men and women served in the Vietnam War.

Historical Content

Histories are great sources of genealogical information. Many contain biographical information about individuals who lived in the area, including:

  • Parents' names
  • Maiden names of women
  • Place of birth, death, or marriage
  • Occupation
  • Migration
  • Military service
  • Descendants

Local Histories

Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. Published histories of towns, counties, and states usually contain accounts of families. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of pioneers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may be included that will provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search. Local histories are extensively collected by the Family History Library, public and university libraries, and state and local historical societies.

  • Committee for a New England Bibliography. Maine, A Bibliography of Its History. Boston, Massachusetts: G. K. Hall, 1977. FHL book 974.1 H23c
  • Williamson, Joseph. A Bibliography of the State of Maine from the Earliest Period to 1891. Two Volumes. Portland, Maine: Thurston Print, 1896. FHL film 928375 items 1-2; book 974.1 A3wThis work contains a comprehensive list of published works dealing with Maine history and families through 1891.
  • Kaminkow, Marion J. United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress. 5 vols. Baltimore: Magna Charta Book, 1975-76. WorldCat 315166; FHL book 973 A3ka

State Histories Useful to Genealogists

Good genealogists strive to understand the life and times of their ancestors. In this sense, any history is useful. But certain kinds of state, county, and local histories, especially older histories published between 1845 and 1945, often include biographical sketches of prominent individuals. The sketches usually tend toward the laudatory, but may include some genealogical details. If these histories are indexed or alphabetical, check for an ancestor's name.

  • Hatch, Louis Clinton, Editor. Maine: A History. Five Volumes. New York, New York: American Historical Society, 1919. FHL film 1750652 item 3; book 974.1 H2me Part of volume three and all of volumes four and five contain bibliographic material. Volumes three, four, and five contain indexes. A comprehensive history of Maine.
  • American Historical Association. Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1908. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1909. FHL 896558-59; book 973 C4ah. A helpful description of Maine state and county records from 1894 to 1932.

United States History

The following are only a few of the many sources that are available:

  • Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M. The Almanac of American History. (Greenwich, Conn.: Bison Books, 1983.) At various libraries (WorldCat), FHL book 973 H2almThis book provides brief historical essays and chronological descriptions of thousands of key events in United States history.
  • Dictionary of American History, Revised ed., 8 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976.) At various libraries (WorldCat), FHL book 973 H2adIncludes historical sketches on various topics in U.S. history, such as wars, people, laws, and organizations.
  • Van Doren, Charles Lincoln; Robert McHenry, Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium. (Springfield, Mass.: G and C Merriam, 1971.) At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 973 H2v Includes a history, some maps, tables, and other historical information.

Family History Library

To access histories available through the FamilySearch Catalog, use the Place-names Search for:

  • MAINE - HISTORY
  • MAINE, [COUNTY] - HISTORY
  • MAINE, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - HISTORY

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  • This page was last modified on 25 July 2014, at 16:25.
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