Research in Maine

Human history in the area now known as Maine dates back to circa 11,000 BCE when Paleoindians arrived. Later it was settled by the various tribes of Native Americans including the Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot. French and English settlers began arriving in the seventeenth century. Though never densely populated, Maine’s impact on modern history stretches across North America and throughout the world thanks in large part to its maritime history.

Before the Revolution, the British valued Maine pines as masts for their ships. The boom in Maine’s own shipbuilding industry began shortly after it separated from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and became an independent state in 1820. From the 1830s to the mid-1890s, Maine built more ships than any other US state. Maine built ships traveled along the United States coast and extended America’s global trade as far as Polynesia and the Far East.

Research in Maine author Eva Holmes, CG, AG, offers readers a comprehensive guide of where and how to find records of ancestors who lived in Maine.

Family history researchers will find detailed information about the state’s many genealogical resources, including

  • Archives such as the Maine State Archives, the Portland Public Library, and the smaller archives found in nearly every town;
  • Cemetery records such as information on over 7,100 cemeteries at the Maine Old Cemetery Association; and
  • Maritime records from diaries, ledgers, and logbooks found at local libraries to the Mystic Seaport’s Registers of Seamen’s Protection Certificates.

Genealogists will also find valuable information on repositories and resources covering

  • Atlases, gazetteers, and maps
  • Business, fraternal organizations, and institutional records
  • Census, county, and court records, and vital records
  • Ethnic records of African American, French, French-Canadian, German; Italian, Jewish, and Native Americans as well as Irish, Scots, and Scots-Irish
  • Military records from the colonial wars to the Vietnam war, including the Aroostook War (1838–1839), which was sparked by a border dispute between Maine and Canada

Published by NGS in 2024, Research in Maine covers all this and more.

The valuable guidebook was sponsored by Denise Picard-Lindgren in memory of her husband, Nathan. It is one volume in the Research in the States series edited by Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FUGA, FVGS and is available for purchase in the NGS online store in both PDF and print versions.


Eva Holmes, CG, AG, is a life-long resident of Portland, Maine, with New England roots going back twelve-plus generations. She serves as mentor for programs such as ProGen and as a trustee of the BCG Education Fund. An author of both fiction and non-fiction, Holmes has been published in several periodicals, including the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. She is the incoming editor of the Utah Genealogical Association’s quarterly, Crossroads.