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Genealogy Resources

History of vital statistics in Maine

Vital statistics in Maine began in the early days of Massachusetts. In 1639, the Clerk of Writs of the Colony of Massachusetts was charged with keeping records of "the days of every marriage, birth and death of every person..." in addition to records of wills, judgments and evidence. Maine was a part of Massachusetts until we became a state under the Act of Separation between Maine and Massachusetts in 1820. Upon separation, the Laws of Massachusetts were carried over verbatim as the Laws of Maine. By that time, keeping vital records had become the responsibility of municipal clerks.

A Vital Statistics Law was proposed to the 64th Legislature in 1888 and referred to the 65th, which passed it into law in 1890 to become effective on January 1, 1892. Under the 1890 act, the Secretary of the State Board of Health became the State Registrar of Vital Statistics and on January 1, 1892 an office was established for the purpose of maintaining a statewide vital statistics system. 

The vital statistics system has undergone many changes in its over 300-year history in Maine. While some cities and towns have very good old records from their earliest settlement, many did not start to keep records until they were forced into doing so by the new vital statistics law in 1892.


    • Municipal Offices
      Every municipality has a well established vital statistics system which includes records of all births, marriages, fetal deaths, and deaths that occur in the municipality or involve its residents. In "Unincorporated Places" the law provides for the records to be recorded with the municipal clerk of the nearest incorporated municipality and treated the same as events occurring in the municipality.
        • Saco City Clerk's Office
          300 Main Street
          Tel: 207-284-4831

          The city maintains birth, death and marriage records going back to the 1790's. The majority of the older record books have been restored and preserved. The city charges $15.00 for a certified copy. Any additional copies of the same record requested the same day are $6.00. Non-certified copies are $4.00

    • Dyer Library/Saco Museum
      371 Main Street, Saco, ME. 04072
      Tel: 207-283-3861

      The library's special collections contain thousands of books and documents relating to Maine history and genealogy. They are housed in the Roy P. Fairfield Maine History Room at the Dyer Library. The collections contain 10,000 manuscripts, historical papers, photographs and maps of York County and Saco surrounding areas. 

      The museum's galleries are set up to allow changing exhibitions showcasing the extraordinary collections, special interpretive exhibits, and important works by contemporary Maine artists. Permanent exhibits include paintings, furnishings, and household objects with documented histories of ownership in the Saco Valley in the 18th and 19th centuries. Period bedchambers offer insights into the life-styles of both the elite and working classes in 19th-century Saco. The museum also has a display of antique natural history specimens, including birds of New England.
    • York County Government
      45 Kennebunk Road, Alfred ME. 04002
      Tel: 207-324-1571
        • Registry of Probate
          The Probate Court has jurisdiction over a variety of proceedings including but not limited to the probate and administration of decedent's estate, wills and trusts, contests over and construction of wills and trusts, guardianships and conservatorships concerning adults and minors, name changes, adoptions and related termination of parental rights cases. The York County Registry of Probate houses and archives original records dating back to 1687.

        • Registry of Deeds
          The Registry of Deeds website contains land records, property deeds, titles to property and divorce decrees from January 1, 1966 to the present.
    • Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
      Data Research and Vital Statistics - Vital Records Office
      220 Capital Street
      11 State House Station
      Augusta, Maine 04333-0011
      Tel: 207-287-3181

      The Vital Records office collects and maintains records of births, deaths, fetal deaths, marriages, and divorces dating from1892 to present, issuing certified copies on request. Records from 1923 to the present are physically housed at Vital Records. Records from 1892-1922 are housed at Maine State Archives. As of July 30, 2004, the Office of Vital Records is establishing and maintaining the Domestic Partner Registry. 

      They also provide other vital registration services such as: acknowledgements of paternity, corrections, supplemental cause of death, divorces, delayed registration of records, court determinations legal name changes on birth records, preparation of new birth certificates after adoption or legitimization, maintains the adoption reunion registry and maintains the domestic partner registry. Vital Records houses all sealed adoptions and legitimizations. Anyone can acquire a Maine CDC researcher card, which will allow genealogists to obtain non-certified copies of birth, marriage and death records from either the State Vital Records Unit, or from any municipal office.

    • Maine State Archives
      Mailing: Address: 84 State House Station
      Physical: Address: 230 State Street, Augusta, Maine 04333
      Tel: 207-287-5795

      The Maine State Archives has many record groups containing information which can be of use to those pursuing family history. Many of these records are on microfilm and can be viewed by the public in the Search Room. Their collection includes filmed vital records, including many old municipal records and the original State 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 U.S. Census enumeration schedules, which are available for viewing on microfilm. Copies of the Federal Census enumeration schedules from 1900 through 1930 are available for viewing on microfilm as well.

    • Maine State Library
      64 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333 
      Tel: 207-287-5600

      The State Library's genealogy collection spans a large geographical area, primarily emphasizing Maine, with some coverage of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. 

      Other parts of New England are included as well, with some additional sources on Northeastern States. We also have a growing collection of materials relating to Quebec Province and the Maritimes.
    • Maine Genealogy Network
      The Maine Genealogy Network has databases where you can search for: Marriages, Divorces, Deaths, Obituaries, Burials, Passengers, Court & Government and Military records. You can also: join a group, write a blog post, chat with other researchers and share photographs and videos.

    • Boston Public Library
      700 Boylston Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA 02116
      Tel: 617-536-5400

      The BPL has a very extensive and broad based collection of New England historical records, perhaps the best anywhere. Their collections include but is not limited to newspapers, maps, military records, land records, passenger lists, obituaries, vital records, and censuses. If it's New England ancestors you seek you will want to be here! To access most online databases you will need a library card, free to Massachusetts residents with a photo ID.

    • Daughters of the American Revolution Library
      1776 D St., NW Washington, DC 20066
      Tel: 202-628-1776

      The DAR Genealogical Research System (GRS) is a free resource provided by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) to aid general genealogical research.

      The GRS is a collection of databases that provide access to the many materials amassed by the DAR since its founding in 1890. 

      DAR members across the country are passionate ambassadors for genealogical preservation and research, and the National Society is committed to being a premier provider of genealogical resources. The online databases are the culmination of 10 years of work by members volunteering to scan and index the vast genealogical resources of the DAR Library. This system of databases will continue to expand as new information is added.

    • National Archives and Records Administration
      8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001
      Tel: 1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA

      Learn how you can use the resources at the National Archives to explore your family's ancestry. Explore genealogy resources related to specific topics such as: Census Records; Immigration; Court Records; Military Personnel Records; and Land Records. Genealogy Workshops are also available. 

      The Archival Research Catalog (ARC) Guide for Genealogists and Family Historians is the online catalog of NARA's nationwide holdings in the Washington, DC, area; Regional Archives; and Presidential Libraries. ARC is a work in progress.

                                     Library of Congress
                                     and Social Sciences Division
                                     101 Independence Ave SE
                                     Thomas Jefferson Building LJ100
                                     Washington, D.C. 20540-4660
                                    Tel: 202-707-5537
The Library of Congress has one of the world's premier collections of U.S. and foreign genealogical  and  local historical publications. The Library's genealogy collection began as early as 1815 with the purchase of Thomas Jefferson's library.

 As one of the leading genealogical collections in the country, the Library has more than 50,000 genealogies and 100,000 local histories. The collections are especially strong in North American, British Isles, and German sources. These international strengths are further supported and enriched  by the Library's incomparable royalty, nobility, and heraldry collection, making it one of a few libraries  in America that offer such collections. 

While the Library is rich in collections of manuscripts, microfilms, newspapers, photographs, maps, and  published material, it is not an archive or repository for unpublished or primary source county, state, or church records. Researchers seeking county records will need to visit the courthouse or a library in the county of interest, the state archives, or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City,  Utah, or one of its Family History Centers, all of which might have either the original county records  or microform copies.