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Maine State Library Special Collections
- Aroostook Oral History - Recordings Made in 1971 and 1972
- Avery Collection - Photographs and Resources collected by Myron Avery
- Ballard Diary - The personal diary of an 18th century midwife
- Baxter Collection - Papers from Percival Baxter, Governor of Maine from 1921- 1925
- Genealogy Resources available at MSL
- Kennebec Journal Index - 1972-1994 Card Index
- Maine Author Collection - Books by Maine Writers
- Maine In Print - Recent Maine Publications
- Maine Newspapers - Print and Microfilm
- Maine Notable Individuals
- Maine State Government Documents - Official Depository Collection
- Maine Town Annual Reports
- Maine Vertical File - Clippings on Maine Topics
- Maine Writers
- Maine's Name - History of the State Name
- Manuscripts - Original Documents from Maine History
- Maps - State, Counties, Cities, Historic, Topographical and Contemporary
- Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps - Microfilm Collection of Historic Maps
- Thomas Bird Mosher Publications - Complete Set of Publications 1894 to 1926
- Vaughan Collection - Historic Medical Collection
In 1971 the Aroostook County libraries received a federal grant for the development of an oral history of the county. The project was completed in 1972 and resulted in over 100 audio cassettes, some in French and Swedish. The cultural life and history of Aroostook County are presented through personal reminiscences of senior citizens, folk songs, and folk tales. These tapes have been copied on to CDs which are available for loan. An index of the material can be used in the Library.
The Avery Collection is an outstanding collection of materials, gathered by the late Captain Myron H. Avery, relating to the Appalachian Trail, the Katahdin area and lumbering in northern Maine. The collection consists of paintings by George Hallowell along with pamphlets, slides, negatives and photographs covering the years 1876-1936. Among those contributing photographs to the collection were Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, Edward Draper, George Hallowell and the National Park Service. The collection also includes a large number of maps of the Katahdin and northern Maine area, and a chronological arrangement of Avery's correspondence.
Captain Myron Avery (1899-1952) was born in Lubec, Maine. He followed a career in the U.S. Navy, but his true avocation was the out-of-doors and mountain climbing. He was the first president of the Appalachian Trail Conference and an enthusiastic developer of the Appalachian Trail in Maine.
Martha Ballard was a midwife who lived in Hallowell, Maine 1734/35 to 1812. She kept diaries throughout her life chronicling her work. These diaries became the basis for the book and film A Midwife’s Tale. Although the original handwritten diaries are extremely fragile and not available for public use, print and microfilm facsimiles can be viewed.
The Baxter Collection includes the personal papers, letters, and scrapbooks left to the Maine State Library by former Governor Percival Proctor Baxter (1876-1969). Subjects emphasized are Maine state government, conservation, and the history and development of Baxter State Park. The collection has its own special catalog as well as a printed guide.
Percival Proctor Baxter was the Governor of Maine (1921-1925), a conservationist, and a preserver of Maine’s mountains and forests through his gifts of the lands which now comprise Baxter State Park.
The State Library's Genealogy Collection spans a large geographical area. It emphasizes Maine, of course, but also provides coverage for New England and other northeastern states. In addition, the Library houses a growing collection of materials relating to Quebec Province and the Maritimes.
From 1972 through 1994, the Library created an index to significant Maine news and obituaries in the Augusta newspaper, the Kennebec Journal. This card catalog index is available in the Library.
On permanent display in the Maine Room is the Maine Author Collection of more than 10,000 volumes. This collection contains an outstanding representation of works, including those of Madame Sarah Wood (1759-1853), Maine's first woman novelist; the complete works of Jacob Abbott (1803-1879), a pioneer writer of books for children; the historical writings of Jacob's brother John S.C. Abbott (1805-1877), as well as the fiction of two prolific writers of stories for boys, Elijah Kellogg (1813-1901) and James Otis Kaler (1848-1912). Also included are the works of contemporary authors such as Stephen King and Carolyn Chute. Works in the collection may be found in the library catalog.
The idea of a Maine Author Collection originated with Henry Dunnack, a former State Librarian, who in the 1920's began to collect the literary works of Maine authors. For the purpose of this collection, a Maine author is broadly defined to include not only Maine natives, but also those who have become Maine residents, part-time residents, and authors writing about Maine. A unique file of correspondence with many of the authors adds to the value and interest of the collection, as do inscriptions in many of the books.
In addition, the State Library offers the Maine Writers Database.
Published quarterly, Maine in print is an annotated selected bibliography of titles about Maine or by Maine authors.
The cities and towns of Maine are well-represented in the Maine State Library's collection of current newspapers. Prior years of the principal Maine newspapers are available on microfilm, including such important early newspapers as the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (1836-1900); Eastern Argus (1803-1921); and Le Messager (1880-1968), a French newspaper published in Lewiston. The library also has originals of some older Maine newspapers.
Maine Notables is an informational database of people with Maine connections who have gained fame or notoriety.
The State Library is the official repository for State agency publications. See State Government Documents with the Government Publications Checklist.
In 1892 the State Librarian wrote to every town in Maine and requested a complete file of the town's financial reports. This was the beginning of an extensive collection maintained by the Library. Maine law now requires that reports be filed with the Library annually. The Library also has substantial holdings of city directories and a complete collection of Maine Registers dating back to 1820.
Holdings for specific towns are listed in the Library Catalog Some Maine town reports are now online through Maine Town Reports Digital Pilot Project: in collaboration with Fogler Library, University of Maine.
In 1927, the Maine State Library started a clipping file of newspaper and magazine articles about Maine history, people and many other aspects of life in Maine. These clippings, along with pamphlets about Maine, are arranged by subject in the Maine Vertical File. There is also a set of scrapbooks on various Maine topics. Although the files themselves are not available electronically, there is an online finding aid which includes nearly half of the subects covered.
The Maine Writers Index is a searchable database of writers with a relationship to the State of Maine. The connection may be birth, residency, employment or works that are set in Maine.
There continues to be much interest in the origin of the name of our state, a likely reason being the fact that there is no one, definitive answer.
The State Library has several hundred manuscripts, including Maine history, biography, personal papers, genealogies, and diaries. The majority of the manuscripts are listed in the library catalog. They may be examined in the library.
The map collection includes state, county, city and town, regional, and special maps of Maine. Among these are an 1802 map of Maine by Osgood Carleton, the Moses Greenleaf (1777-1834) maps of Maine, maps of counties circa 1860, and a set of maps of the Northeastern Boundary controversy. Maps in the collection may be found in the library catalog.
Daniel Alfred Sanborn, a surveyor from Somerville, Mass., began producing fire insurance maps in 1867. Eventually the company produced maps covering approximately 12,000 U.S. towns and cities. We are fortunate to have these detailed, diagrammatic maps of select towns and cities in Maine on microfilm, from 1878 up to the mid-1900s. Buildings are outlined with windows and doors, type of construction and purpose, street names, property boundaries and features, proximity to fire hydrants, etc. These maps are useful for historical research, particularly genealogy and urban planning. A more specific guide is available at the Reference Desk.
From 1894 to 1926, the internationally known publisher Thomas Bird Mosher (1852-1923) of Portland collected and published poetry and prose selections representing little known masterpieces from world literature. The publications of the Mosher Press were distinguished by their fine quality imported paper, typography, and layout. The State Library has a complete set of the Mosher Series. The titles are listed in Thomas Bird Mosher: pirate prince of publishers by Philip R. Bishop.
Approximately 250 medical texts from the collection of Dr. Benjamin Vaughan, who lived in Hallowell, Maine (1796-1835). English and American imprints (a few French) from the late 18th to early 19th centuries. Items are stored in off-site, but can be retrieved for use in the Library.