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Home > Researchers > Town History

Resources for Town History Research

While references to Maine communities appear throughout our records, the following cover most communities in existence at the time the records were created. Access to these records is available through our Research Room.

Demographic and Vital Records

Federal Population Censuses 1790-1930
Enumeration taken every tenth year (ending in "0"). Censuses before 1850 list only the head-of-household by name.  From 1850 onward, all members of the household are listed.
Mortality Census Schedules 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880
A listing, taken at the time of the census, of all people in the town or city who died within the last twelve months.
Early Vital Records
About 700 microfilm rolls of town and city births, marriages, marriage intentions, and deaths copied from clerks' record books are available for visiting researchers.  Records were kept with varying thoroughness from town to town.
1837 Revenue-Sharing Census
It covers Bangor, Portland and the unincorporated townships of that time only, and includes the name of the head of the house, and the number of other people living there.
Settlers Certificates
Certificates of land ownership given by the Maine Land Office to settlers in many northern Maine towns and unincorporated townships. Indexed by name and town.
Maine Land Office Deeds
Original conveyances of land from the state to settlers.  (Note:  this does not include later sales of the land from individual to individual.  Such records will be found in the county Registries of Deeds).


Election Returns
They detail how the towns and cities voted in state and federal elections, referenda and constitutional amendments since 1820. Some gaps occur in the nineteenth century.
1864 Poll List
Listing by town of all eligible voters of that year.
Scattered Early Town Records.
On microfilm in our Research Room.
Private and Special Laws
These include town incorporations, town line changes.
Legislative "Graveyard"
Bills that were not enacted, reports, communications, and petitions. An immense source of historical information. Indexed from 1820-1865.
Governor and Executive Council Records 1820-1976
Financial disbursements, confirmations of appointments, pardons and many transactions relating to local government. Indexed 1820-1840.
Assessors Returns
Reports by town assessors for a variety of reasons and years, including: State Valuation (1820), Domestic Cattle (1860), Agricultural Statistics (1862), and Insane and Idiotic Persons (1878). Indexed by town.
State Agencies
The Departments of Transportation, Public Utilities, Attorney General, and others have frequent business with towns and cities. Research in these materials can be very time-consuming.

Military and Veterans

Revolutionary War Land Bounties
These awards for veterans or their widows are indexed by name.
Civil War
  • Town correspondence with the Adjutant General's Office.
  • 1862 medical examinations of recruits (some indexed by town, regiment, or name).
  • Quotas and Credits.  1862-1865.  The number of men required from each town as a result of the draft and the names of everyone credited to that town.
  • Suppliers Correspondence.  Businesses in the town offering to sell goods and materials to the Adjutant General's Office for conducting the war.
  • Post-Civil War Bounty Claims.  Made to the state by towns for reimbursement of bounties paid to recruits.
  • 1890 Census of veterans or their widows by town.  Indexed by name.
  • World War I Soldiers Index.  By town.
  • Town Cemetery Indexes for veterans.
  • Grave registration projects for veterans of various conflicts.

Social and Economic Conditions

Census Returns (1850, 1860, 1870, 1880)
The Agricultural Census reports include information on farm acreage, livestock and crops grown. The Industrial Census lists manufacturing businesses in town, with information on the number of people employed, wages, raw materials used and amount of goods produced.
County Court Records
A small percentage of these records are indexed by town of the plaintiff or defendant.
Mid-twentieth Century Photographs
These photos from the Department of Economic Development, the George French Collection, and other sources are indexed by town/city.
Great Depression Era Photographs
Federal Emergency Relief Administration.
From the Maine Land Office and other sources, indexed by town.
Lists of recipients and type of aid given by town. Late nineteenth to early twentieth century.
1859 State Vessel Valuation
Listing by town and name of vessel, tonnage, age, etc.
Various reports by town regarding commodities such as fish, pot and pearl ash, liquor, etc.