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Maine History: Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Maine Memory Network
Maine's Statewide Digital Museum

Brunswick Region Resources (a Bowdoin Library Guide)

BIW Legacy Vault, Bath Iron Works, an "archive of photographs, plans and ephemera that chronicles our contribution to American shipbuilding".

Digital Collections at the University of Maine System Libraries
Variety of digital collections, including Maine State Documents, some Maine Town Reports, the William S. Cohen Papers, fisheries and forestry reports.

Note: Maine Archives Interactive is no longer available.

Maine State Archives, Digital Collections, on the DigitalMaine Repository

Maine History Web Resources, Maine State Library.

Sanborn Maps: Maine, 1867-1970
Available both online and in microfilm, the Sanborn Insurance Company's maps from the 19th century depict homes, businesses, farm fields and other features of towns.

Ancestry Library
Census schedules, vital records, directories, photos, and more of individuals from North America, Europe, Australia, and other countries. (Sources for Census Schedules (including names) at Bowdoin.)

Documentary history of the state of Maine (Some volumes available online from HathiTrust.)
Published by the Maine Historical Society, aided by appropriations from the state, 1869-1916.

Historical magazines and journals

American Periodicals Series Online
Full text of American Magazines and Journals of the Nineteenth Century

American Periodicals Series
Coverage: 1740-1900

Poole's Index To Periodical Literature (print)
Main Per Index
Online via HathiTrust.
Subject index to British and American periodicals of the nineteenth century. Bowdoin Library owns many of these nineteenth century periodicals in its collections. Coverage: 1802-1906

Nineteenth century readers' guide to periodical literature, 1890-1899, with supplementary indexing
Primarily American
Main Per Index

Readers' Guide Retrospective , 1890-1982 (online)
Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, 1983- (online)
Main Per Index, 1900-2012 (print)
Index to a broad range of U.S. general interest magazines and journals.

Humanities and Social Sciences Index Retrospective
This bibliographic database covers some of the best known scholarly journals and numerous lesser known specialized magazines in a broad array of humanities and social sciences topics. Coverage: 1907-1984

Federal documents

U.S. Congressional Serial Set (online)
Gov Docs Y1.1/2: (Print volumes)
The U.S. Congressional Serial Set is comprised of thousands of sequentially numbered volumes containing congressionally-produced reports and documents. In the 19th century, many executive agency documents were published in the Serial Set as well, making it an extraordinarily rich source of primary documents for American History and culture.

Historical Statistics of the United States.
Comprehensive, searchable collection of statistics, including 37,000+ data sets that can be downloaded. A historical supplement to the Statistical Abstract of the United States. A great place to start looking for data. Footnotes to tables lead you to more detailed or more current data. The introduction to each section provides a helpful summary of major sources. Previous editions are available from the Census Bureau, HathiTrust, and elsewhere online and in print.

Digital Collections, Library of Congress (formerly American Memory)

Fishing communities of the United States, 2006. National Marine Fisheries Service.
Includes a snapshot of Maine, a list of fishing communities and ports in Maine, and a regional summary.

Maine and local documents

Public Documents of the State of Maine, 1840-1940
Governor's message and executive agency reports--Agriculture, Health, Transportation, etc.
To identify and locate these documents, use our guide on Maine State Documents.

Maine register, state yearbook and legislative manual
Main Libr JK2831
Lists state and town officials, town populations, businesses and information on local and state agencies. Some volumes are also available via HathiTrust, Internet Archive, and Google Books.

Maine Town Annual Reports
The Library has a collection of paper annual Maine town reports (town government's accounting to the taxpayers of the spending of tax money) in the Govt Doc Maine collection. Some date from as early as 1846. The University of Maine at Orono has digitized a portion of the Maine town reports. Both the Library's and UMO's collections are incomplete. Check CBBcat, MaineCat, and Maine Town Documents online.

Archives of the Legislature of Maine : legislative index series 1820-1825
Govt Doc Maine A70.22 820-825

Archives of the Legislature of Maine : legislative index series 1826-1830
Govt Doc Maine A70.22 825-830


United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries, Spencer F. Baird, Commissioner. The fisheries and fishery industries of the United States, prepared through the cooperation of the Commissioner of Fisheries and the Superintendent of the Tenth Census by George Brown Goode, Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and a staff of associates. 1884-1887. Available online via U.S. Congressional Serial Set and via HathiTrust.

  • Section I.; 47th Congress, 1st Session; Serial Set Vol. No. 1998; S.Misc.Doc. 124 pt. 1 & 2.
    For example, relating to Maine:
    The river herrings or alewives (Clupea œstivalis C. and vernalis), 579
    The American lobster, 781
  • Section II.; 47th Congress, 1st Session; Serial Set Vol. No. 1999; S.Misc.Doc. 124 pt. 3.
    For example, relating to Maine:
    Statistics of the fisheries of the United States in 1880, vi
    The coast of Maine and its fisheries, 7
    Historical references to the fisheries of New England, 677
  • Sections III-IV.; 47th Congress, 1st Session; Serial Set Vol. No. 2000; S.Misc.Doc. 124 pt. 4.
    For example, relating to Maine:
    The sea fishing grounds of the Eastern coast of North America from Greenland to Mexico: The coast of Maine, section III, 26
    The sea fishing grounds of the Eastern coast of North America from Greenland to Mexico: The Gulf of Maine, section III, 42
    The geographical distribution of fresh-water food-fishes in the several hydrographic basins of the United States: The lakes of Maine, section III, 134
    Ocean temperatures of the eastern coast of the United States with thirty-two charts, section III, 155
    The shore fishermen of Maine, section IV, 10
    The vessel fishermen of Maine, section IV, 11
  • Section V, Volume I.; 47th Congress, 1st Session; Serial Set Vol. No. 2001; S.Misc.Doc. 124 pt. 5.
    For example, relating to Maine:
    The George's Bank cod fishery, 187
    The smoked-herring industry, 473
    The sardine industry, 489
    The pound-net fisheries of the Atlantic states, 595
    The river fisheries of Maine, 673
  • Section V, Volume II.; 47th Congress, 1st Session; Serial Set Vol. No. 2002; S.Misc.Doc. 124 pt. 6.
    For example, relating to Maine:
    The lobster fishery, 658
  • Section V, Plates.; 47th Congress, 1st Session; Serial Set Vol. No. 2003; S.Misc.Doc. 124 pt. 7.
    For example, relating to Maine:
    plates 30-33, 116, 119-120, 125, 127-146, 150-151, 164-168, 248, 252.

Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Fisheries. Fishing grounds of the Gulf of Maine. Walter H. Rich, Appendix III to the Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Fisheries for 1929. print; via HathiTrust. Republished in 1983 as a Maine state document under the same title: print.

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