ArchivesSpace - Guide to Using this Catalog

How do I navigate the site? What are my options to Browse?

There are 5 tabs available at the top of the page:

  • Home - will return you to the home page
  • Collections - will bring you to a full alphabetical list of all the state departments and our gift collection. Once in a record group, results can be narrowed by searching within the group or by using the Collection organization tree on the right side of the page. Clicking on the arrows in the Collection organization tree will allow you to view more of the record hierarchy. Clicking on the title will bring you to that record.
  • Digital Archives - will bring you to a full alphabetical list of “Digital Objects.” Clicking on the image thumbnail will bring you to the item in our DigitalMaine repository. Under the “Linked Records” drop down menu there is a link to the item record associated with the digital object.
  • Subjects - will bring you to a full alphabetical list of subjects. From this page you may search just within subjects. Clicking on any of the subjects will give you a list of records associated with that subject.
  • Names - will bring you to a full alphabetical list of names. From this page you may search within the names field, as well as filtering by type of name: Person, Entity or Family. Clicking on any of the names will give you a list of records associated with that name, as well as additional information and or associated name record.

Have a question about the collections? Email us at

How do I search for records?

  • Begin a basic search by entering your search terms in the search bar. You may limit the search by searchable fields, record type, and date.
  • The searchable fields are:
    • Keyword: Searches the entire text of the finding aid.
    • Title: Searches titles of the materials described, including collection records and series and files within collections. If you know the precise title of what you’re looking for, searching by title can be very helpful.
    • Creator: Primarily searches names of the persons, families, and state agencies or organizations who created the collections. Please note that limiting by “Creator” will primarily search only creators of collections, not individual records or items within collections. Most creators are connected only at the collection level and not at series or file level records. Creators of series and file level records are usually included in the series or file title.
    • Subject: Searches by subject headings assigned to materials by archivists. (e.g. “United States history”)
    • Container Number: Searches by identifier, which is a unique number by which materials are tracked and requested.
  • Record types allow you to customize the type of records you want a search to return:
    • Limit to collections will only return records for complete collections, rather than people, subjects, series, and files.
  • You may select a date span to limit the search results chronologically. Searching by date is approximate, and results may fall outside the date span you enter.
  • You may construct a more complex search by selecting the + icon and adding additional search parameters.

How can I best phrase my searches?

  • Searches are not case sensitive.
  • You may search for phrases by including quotation marks. (e.g. “Executive Council”)
    • By default, searches with three or fewer search terms return results containing all of the search terms. Searches with four or more search terms return results containing most of the search terms. You may add OR and NOT to change this behavior (e.g. “Joseph AND Treat AND survey NOT Saint John”)
  • You may add a tilde (~) to search for search terms within a specified number of words of one another (e.g. “maps Penobscot ~5” will return results where the term maps occurs within 5 words of the term Penobscot).
  • Symbols ? and * help return a greater number of relevant results by searching for variant spellings and forms of search terms simultaneously.
    • ? replaces a single letter in a search term (e.g. searching “wom?n” will return both women and woman)
    • * replaces any number of letters at the end of a search term (e.g. searching “mission*” will return mission, missions, missionary, and missionaries)
    • ? and * may not be used as the first character of a word.
    • To use these symbols in combination with another search term (e.g. “wom?n suffrage”), use the + icon to create another row and enter each search term in a separate row.

How can I filter my search results?

  • Once you’ve performed a search and are on the search results page, you can use the filter pane on the left side of the page to further limit and customize search results.
  • You may filter by record type, subject, and name.
  • You may also use the search bar at the top of the filter pane to create additional searches within the search results.

How do I request materials?

To access materials from a collection, please fill out this form. You may also send an email.

Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the Archives reading room. In many cases the collections are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval. We highly recommend scheduling an appointment or contacting the Maine State Archives before you plan to visit. Archives staff reserve the right to limit access to fragile materials. Digital copies may be provided instead.

How do I find digital copies of the material?

ArchivesSpace is our catalog of collections, similar to searching online for a book at a library. The Maine State Archives uses the Digital Maine Repository to house the scans of our documents, photos, and maps. There are links in ArchivesSpace to the digital copies of archival records to allow you to search and browse both the paper and digital collections together.

  • Using the Digital Archives tab you may browse just the Digital Object collection. Each of the records contain a link to the digital item. The link is in the form a button within the thumbnail of the image or red button that says “Digital Object.”
  • Not all records have been digitized. When one is available you will see a “Digital Object” link on the item record as you are browsing or searching. If you do not see a “Digital Object” link, no scan of the item exists yet.

Does this catalog include all archival materials at Maine State Archives? What if I can’t find what I’m looking for?

This catalog includes all archival materials held at Maine State Archives. However, most materials have only been cataloged to the box level, not to each individual item. Though the catalog includes all MSA archival holdings, it is possible material was never received by the Archives or is considered non-permanent, which would not be included in this catalog and is only accessible through the creating department.

If you are unable to find what you’re looking for, do a more general search, or try browsing the catalog. Have a question about the collections? Email us at

How can I use Maine State Archives finding aid descriptions and metadata?

We ask that you follow these guidelines and practices:

  • Give attribution to Maine State Archives; cite our materials and our metadata. Attribution will help other people find the original metadata as well as unique archival materials.
  • Contribute your suggestions and improvements to help make our description better. Email us at
  • Conform to laws and other regulations in your jurisdiction, especially concerning defamation and copyright.
  • Our finding aid descriptions are provided as is. We cannot guarantee our descriptions have been reviewed for completeness or accuracy.

Glossary of Terms and Symbols

Archives are materials created or received by a person, family, or organization that are preserved because of the enduring value of the information they contain.

Collections are groups of materials assembled by a person, family, organization, or repository. They may be divided hierarchically into series, groupings, and files.

Containers are anything that houses or stores archival materials. A container might be a standard size archival box, an oversize box, a broadside folder, or a media case.

Digital records are born-digital and digitized materials that are available online.

Finding aids are guides that allow users to discover, understand, and access archival collections. Finding aids describe the creation, arrangement, content, and context of archival materials.

Name records are the people, families, and organizations that create archival materials.

Record Groups are groups of materials assembled by an agency or department. They may be divided hierarchically into series, groupings, and files.

Subject records are topics, places, and genres used to describe the context and content of archival materials.