Researching family history? Writing about the islands? Here are some resources to get you started.


Virtual Archives

They History Trust digital archive provides online access to our member organizations’ collections. The archive stores and presents images and information about people, places, events, organizations, and objects associated with Mount Desert Island, Maine, and its environs. It presents historical collections in a way that makes it fun and easy to learn about local history. Our open-source web application was designed and built by George Soules and Janice Kenyon of AvantLogic for Southwest Harbor Public Library.

Learn Digital Archive offers tips on using the online resource. In the Collections highlights member collections. Finally, if you can’t find answers in the Digital Archive or from the resources listed below, Ask A Research Question and we’ll see if any History Trust members have helpful information.

Other Online Collections

A&B | C&D | E-L | M&N | O-Z

After checking historical collections in Digital Archive, above, you may discover what your looking for in one of these other virtual collections.

A & B
C & D
E – L
  • Ellsworth American historical newspapers are available in two online resources.
    • Digital Maine ⇗, presented in rather awkward PDF format (https://digitalmaine.com/ellsworth_american_archives/).
    • Library of Congress ⇗ has scans that are word searchable (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84022374/1890-08-28/ed-1/seq-1/#tab=tab_advanced_search).
  • HathiTrust Digital Library , e.g., search term “Mount Desert Island” (https://babel.hathitrust.org).
  • History Harvest Collections at MDI Historical Society (https://mdihistory.org/historyharvest/).
  • Hudson Museum at University of Maine online collections database of ethnographic and archaeological objects (https://hudsonmuseum.pastperfectonline.com/).
  • Internet Archive , e.g., search term “Mount Desert Island” (https://archive.org).
  • Library of Congress digital collections of maps, photographs, letters, diaries, newspapers, audio and video recordings (https://www.loc.gov/collections/).
M & N
  • Maine Memory Project , e.g., search term “Mount Desert Island” (https://www.mainememory.net).
  • Map List at MDI Historical Society (https://mdihistory.org/research/cultural-history-project/historic-placenames/maps/).
  • Newspaper Archives of the Friends of Island History where every newspaper in the database is fully searchable (https://islandhistory.newspaperarchive.com).
    • Bar Harbor Mount Desert Herald (1881-1889)
    • Bar Harbor Record (1887-1962)
    • Bar Harbor Times (1902-1968)
O – Z

Many local libraries have subscriptions to additional online databases that allow you to search for free.

  • Bangor Public Library has free library cards for any Maine resident that give access to their digital library content (https://www.bangorpubliclibrary.org/).
  • Maine State Library Online Library Card provides free access to online databases for any Maine resident (https://www.maine.gov/msl/services/libcard.htm).

Online Genealogical Databases

  • Ancestry requires a paid account but is free if accessed at many local libraries (https://www.ancestry.com/).
  • Family Search is free, though requires users to create an account (https://www.familysearch.org/).
  • Findmypast requires registration and offers both free and paid access to newspaper archives as well as genealogical records in the US and UK (https://www.findmypast.com/).
  • Find A Grave is free resource with records about more than 20 Mount Desert Island area cemeteries (https://www.findagrave.com/).
  • MyHeritage offers a free trial, but requires a paid account to continue (https://www.myheritage.com/).

Print Resources

Books, articles, and other physical resources are available at libraries and similar locations.

  • Books for Sale ⇗ from Tremont Historical Society (https://www.tremontmainehistory.us/booklist/).
  • Beatrix Farrand Society Library at Garland Farm (http://www.beatrixfarrandsociety.org/library-collections/).
  • Publications Order Form ⇗ from Islesford Historical Society (https://islesfordhistory.org/publications/).
  • MaineCat is the most comprehensive online Maine library catalog which scans more than 4.6 million unique titles and nearly 8.9 million items. All 100 participating local, university, and government libraries allow remote requests for borrowing (http://mainecat.maine.edu/). Includes books at several relevant island libraries, but not those in the list of 200 Maine Libraries below.
  • WorldCat searches more than 10,000 library catalogs in the US and worldwide; 2,500 records returned for “Mount Desert Island” search (https://www.worldcat.org/).
  • 200 Maine Libraries not included in the MaineCAT catalog (see above) with contact information; accuracy not guaranteed. A few relevant library catalogs in the non-MaineCAT list, i.e. not online, include Ellsworth, Islesford, Great Cranberry, Northeast Harbor, Seal Harbor, and Somesville.

On-Site Historical Collections

Some History Trust member organizations, such as libraries, can accommodate research at their locations during regular hours and may offer research assistance. Others have seasonal museums, can only accommodate research requests by appointment, or have limited physical access. Each organization’s capabilities differ due to staffing and other constraints.

Did you find an item in Digital Archive that you wish to learn more about? Ask A Research Question to inquire about procedures for visiting a member’s on-site collections or finding someone who can help with more details.

Image: “Prints, photographs, oral histories for GCI Portrait Project 2009,” Great Cranberry Island Historical Society, …view item