Maine research: some lesser known places to search – for FREE!

I love Maine research.  The Pine Tree State has made major efforts to digitize their records, increasing the odds of finding your ancestors in both free, online databases and government repositories.  Additionally, I’ve found most town clerks and registrars very helpful and friendly, often willing to communicate via email regarding a research request.

Land Records

The state portal for the Maine Registers of Deeds is found here.

deedmap

Each county has various levels of digitization underway.  Kennebec County, for example, has indexed all of their deed books, including most historic deeds dating back to the late 1790s.   Some counties have only digitized indexes for earlier deeds.  Make sure you update your Java plug-in before attempting to view documents, and note that if you create a free user account, you are allowed to download and/or print 500 documents at no charge annually.

FamilySearch also has browsable images (not yet indexed) for the following counties:

Probate Records

MaineProbate.net is the online portal to digitized probate records in Maine.   As is the case with deeds, each county is at various stages of digitizing probate records.  Kennebec County, while ahead on digitization of deeds, has quite a ways to go on probate documents.  I recently discovered mention of a probate record in a deed, and the probate document was not contained in the probate index.  Piscataquis County, on the other hand has indexed most probate records.  While only more recent records are available for viewing/download, you may email the registry to have the indexed record placed online to view the actual document.  There has not been a charge for this request, but there is a fee if you instead ask to have the hard copy mailed to you.

FamilySearch also has probate records for several counties available for viewing.  They are, unfortunately, not yet indexed, and I haven’t yet figured out how they are organized.  Still worth checking out.

Vital Records

My go-to site for vital records in Maine is FamilySearch’s Maine Vital Records, 1670-1907.  It’s a great starting point to find where an event occurred, allowing you to then view order the microfilm for viewing the original document.   In comparing findings to microfilmed town records, this database seems to be pretty complete, even more so than other paid sites.   Other vital records databases for Maine on FamilySearch include:

MaineGenealogy.net

This is another often overlooked resource!  MaineGenealogy.net provides forums to connect with other researchers, a place to post and share your findings, and also has some unique databases that aren’t available for free anywhere else. It was through the site’s Maine court records database that I learned of my 5th great grandfather’s brush with the law:

tibbetts_database

Nathaniel Tibbetts was a defendant in conspiracy charges

The source citation included the repository for the original document (Maine State Archives), which led to the following:

Court records from 1806

Court records from 1806

Nathaniel Tibbetts was sentenced to six months in jail

Nathaniel Tibbetts was sentenced to six months in jail

An excellent resource, MaineGenealogy.net provides an interface with major sites such as Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, and Fold3.

Maine State Archives

Maine State Archives is wonderful to work with.  While you won’t find much there that’s digital, they are very helpful and will scan and email documents to you if you provide them with a credit card, such as the court records shown above.

While there are certainly other paid sites that I use to supplement my Maine research, these free databases simply can’t be beat.  How about you – is there another free site that you use that is not included here?


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