Untangling Those Roots

Untangling Those Roots

Unraveling Your Roots, A DNA and Genealogical Weekend, which is out Fall Conference and Annual Meeting are just under a month away. If you are reading this on line, the week you got it, there is still time to be in the drawing for early registration so read fast! I am going to be honest, the committee is getting nervous. We have great numbers for the Friday Workshop and many are familiar names but the total numbers are lower than we would like to see based on the caliber of the speakers and the number of members in our group. We know that many people wait until the last minute but this is a little nerve wracking.

From the beginning it had occurred to us that DNA is not everyone’s “cup of tea”. If you have been researching for decades the traditional way your recent generations are probably pretty complete so what would the benefit be of learning this whole new thing like DNA? You might be surprised. I come from a pretty boring family, or so I thought. My husband’s family was well researched before I got started on it and if anything, it was even more boring. No horse thieves, politicians or witches to be found. What was DNA going to tell me that I didn’t already know?

Here are just a few things I found out even with the very beginner DNA research I have done on probably two of the most boring families out there.

Great grandad had a way with women. I knew my grandmother was the middle of the pack of six girls and 1 boy. What I didn’t know was who was a sister/brother, half sibling or step sibling (And then there was the one no one talked about). Great grandad had three wives in 10 years and only the one I am related to lived past child bearing age. Details on family relationships died with my grandparent’s generation because “You didn’t talk about those things”. Also it appears that the names of the mothers were not a priority on birth records before 1900. DNA can help you untangle those roots. Oh, and it was traditional research pointed me to a coroner’s inquest that revealed a child of the family no one knew about. At eight years old my grandmother discovered the body of her older stepsister that had committed suicide. It was two days before Christmas. No wonder Grandma never really wanted to talk about her childhood.

Great, Great, grandad was really young at heart. On the other side of the family we knew little about my mother’s father’s family. My “real” grandfather died when my mother was eight and she was adopted by her mother’s second husband. He was “grandpa” to my older siblings but dead before I was even born. My mom’s original family name was Pahler and it is not that common. I was able to find two groups of them and they were in Ohio and Pennsylvania. But which one was mine? In the end the breakthrough came via DNA because the answer was BOTH! Good old Jacob Pahler had a wife and six children before he emigrated in 1865. When he got off the boat he had a wife and six kids but the wife was only two years older than his eldest son. Through DNA it was possible to figure out that the second wife was Jacob’s stepdaughter. He had married her shortly after her mother’s death (in childbirth at 40 something) and then moved to America and had eight more children there. And so the principle of endogamy touched my boring family.

Identical Twin after all! This last epiphany is actually about me. I grew up part of a family of nine and the thing that turned people’s heads as the family entered the room is that the last four of us were two sets of twins born 15 months apart. Yes, my mother was a saint and a master of time management. We were always told that all of us twins were fraternal twins. Four placentas, definitely fraternal, my sister and I just look a lot alike. The whole darn family looks alike-no non-paternal events happening here. As we got older though various people would say “You must be identical” and research bore out the fact that there was more than one way to split an egg. So for Christmas one year I bought a test for my sister. And when she finally got around to taking it her results stated “Either you are Rootsdigger7 or you are her identical twin. Well, there you go! And did you know that our children show up as half siblings though they are truly cousins and raised 1000 miles apart! It is a bit of a shock to find you share more cM with your niece than with your daughter but that is random mixing for you!

Can you imagine what tales from your tree can weave as you untangle your roots with this new tool DNA. None of these discoveries would be possible without traditional research. None of them would be as interesting without DNA research. If you are intrigued, if you just want to get away and “Do” some genealogy, this weekend conference is a great place to start. Truly make it a weekend. Come stay at the Fireside Inn and Suites. Park for free and take the shuttle into Portland for either the workshop or traditional research at some great repositories. Have a pizza party at the hotel and mingle with other researchers you only get to see once a year. Attend the all-day conference and annual meeting. We have great speakers and you will get a glimpse of the big plans we have for 2020 and Maine’s Bicentennial. Check out the session options, there is something there for everyone.

Register before Aug. 20 and get entered in a drawing to win a DNA Test from My Heritage or two tickets to the Spirits Alive Eastern Cemetery Tour. For more information and to register go to maineroots.org .

November 2019 TMG is in Homes

The November 2019 issue of The Maine Genealogist has been mailed and is showing up in member mailboxes. If you haven’t received your copy yet, you can log into the Members’ Area of maineroots.org and see the electronic version.

New In this issue:

SEARCHING FOR THE ORIGIN OF THE NEW ENGLAND SLEEPER FAMILY: With and Examination of the Early Settlers of Hampton, New Hampshire
By: Patricia Law Hatcher

By: John Clarke Bursley


By: Lindsey Ham Gillis

By: Michael J. Leclerc


Plus, a name and subject index for Volume 41

2019 MGS Conference Details

How Can it Be August Already?

The late cold spring turned into a wet cool early summer and all of a sudden it was the Genealogy Fair in Augusta.  After recovering from that,  I looked up and the Calendar had turned to August.  I am sure there were 31 days of July in there but I have no idea where they went.  Why the panic?  Because the MGS Conference and Annual Meeting are not just a month away and we need to get the word out.

First of all this is my first blog so please be gentle.  As a co-chair of the Events Committee I can testify that we have been very busy the last few months putting together our first ever multi-day conference.  Part of me wants to give you all the background and why the conference is arranged the way it is but I would need a book not a blog for that.  So like Joe Gannon on Dragnet used to say-“Just the Facts” ma’am.

Picture a lovely early fall weekend in Portland, after Labor Day and before the leaf peepers show up.  Friday, September 13th the weekend begins at the Fireside Inn and Suites just off the Maine Turnpike at exit 48 (the old Exit 8).  Park your car (for free) and grab a shuttle to Portland to do research at the Maine Historical Society, The Portland Public Library or the Maine Irish Heritage Center.  Good old fashioned research at great repositories and it is free if you are registered at the conference. 

If you are a bit more experienced then a beginner at using DNA for family research, you can sign up for an afternoon workshop to be held at the Maine Historical Society.  Saturday’s keynote speaker, Karen Stanbary and Patricia Hobbs will each present for two hours.  First, Patricia Hobbs will do a hands on workshop “Working with GEDMatch” (you will need to have a charged laptop for this) then Karen Stanbary will do a presentation “Introduction to Chromosome Mapping and DNA Painter”.  There is an additional cost of $30 for this workshop and space is extremely limited.

Whether you spent the day in the library stacks or learning about some advanced DNA topics cap the day with a reception at the Maine Historical Society from 5-7 pm.  The last shuttle from downtown Portland will leave at the end of the reception.  If dinner in Portland sounds like a good idea the hotel is a short Uber or cab ride away-definitely cheaper then parking all day.

If you chose to stay in Portland the Fireside Inn and Suites is a family owned hotel with pool, restaurant and they are pretty much letting us take over the place for the conference. The room rate of $109 is locked in until August 20 and if you check around you will find that it is a decent rate and you will be right on site.  Speaking of August 20th, that is also the last day of early registration. This year if you register early, by August 20th, you will be entered in a drawing for one of two prizes.  The first prize is a DNA Kit from My Heritage and the second prize is two tickets for a tour of the Eastern Cemetery in Portland by Spirits Alive.

Saturday dawns early at hotel with registration starting at 8 am.  A basic schedule is outlined below.  It is a busy day and we hope, a fulfilling one. 

   8:00    Registration

   9:00    Welcoming Remarks

   9:30    Karen Stanbary Keynote Speech-DNA Ethics and Surprising Results

  10:45   Patricia Hobbs Keynote-Problem Solving with DNA-Case Studies

  Noon:  Lunch

   12:45 MGS Annual Business Meeting

   1:30   First Breakout Session Options

  1. Karen Stanbary:  Testing Company Tools
  2. Patricia Hobbs:  A Roadmap to Solving Genealogical Problems with Autosomal DNA-Part 1 (plan on doing part 2 for the second session)
  3. Helen Shaw: Overlooked X Chromosome Matches

  2:45   Second Breakout Session Options

  1. Karen Stanbary: Common Mistakes with DNA
  2. Patricia Hobbs:   A Roadmap to Solving Genealogical Problems with Autosomal DNA-Part 2
  3. Nancy Lecompte: DNA in Native American Research (intermediate level)

3:45      Afternoon Break and Snack

4:15    Q & A Panel with all speaker-“Answering the Unasked Questions”

We hope to see a lot of you at this very special weekend in Portland in September. September is a great time to visit Portland.  Bring the family or come with friends and indulge in research and learning.  If there is one thing I am sure of, it is that August will go every bit as quickly as July did, so don’t delay in getting your registration in.  You can register at maineroots.org  If you have questions don’t hesitate to email me, Lynne Holland and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

2019 Maine Genealogy Fair

The Maine Genealogical Society is teaming up, once again, with the Maine State Archives, Library and Museum to present our FREE Maine Genealogy Fair. On June 29, 2019, from 9am through 2pm, the entrance to the Cultural Building on 230 State St. in Augusta will be abuzz with dozens of genealogical and historical societies from around the State, all looking to help you in your quest to learn more about your Maine roots.

FREE admission to the Maine State Museum will give a glimpse into how your Maine ancestors may have lived, whether they were alive 50 years ago or 12,000. Staff of the Maine Archives will be available for this special event, and B.J. Jamieson, Maine State Library genealogy reference specialist will be on hand as well.

Additionally, MGS will once again offer our Brick Wall Busters, where you can get extra, one on one help, with one of our experienced researchers to help identify additional places and records you may be able to find information about those hard to find ancestors in your tree, and we’ll have two presentations in the Archive’s foyer. we’ll start the morning with Dr. Liam Riordan, Professor of History at the University of Maine. Professor Riordan will talk about Maine’s process of becoming a State and some of the interesting records that were created as a result. Later on, we’ll hear from Jesse Casas who will talk about how he was able to locate a birth parent using DNA analysis.

For those who haven’t been to one of our genealogy fairs in the past, they are high energy events with a lot of opportunity to connect with people (living and passed) to help you fill in the gaps of your research, or help you get started on the road of family history research. Hope to see you there!

Interview with Dr. Carol McCoy

The following post was originally included on Gnarls and Knots and has been reprinted here with permission by the author:

So you’ve found your ancestors on census records, and you have obtained copies of their birth, marriage, and death records. But what other records are available? Come to NERGC 2019 in Manchester, NH from April 3rd through April 6th to find out from Carol McCoy! Carol will be offering 3 presentations at this year’s conference:

  • Using Deeds to Solve Genealogy Problems (This is a 2 hour workshop being offered on Wednesday from 3:30pm-5:30pm)
  • Tax Records in Genealogy Can Be a Good Thing (Saturday 10am-11am)
  • Proving Mayflower Ancestry: Margaret York Randall of Maine, New York, and Alabama (Saturday 3:15pm-4:15pm)

I was at one of Carol’s presentations at NERGC 2017. She is knowledgeable and entertaining, and I’m looking forward to her presentations this year. Carol was kind enough to allow me to interview her.

You began your professional life as a teacher and a professional development consultant. What made you become a full time genealogist?

I have always been interested in psychology and what makes people the way they are. My doctorate in social Personality Psychology focused on early childhood memories and adult personality. Later I taught psychology and studied psychoanalysis in New York City. My hope was to understand people. Ultimately one cannot understand people without understanding their family dynamics and  what is passed on through the generations of one’s family. So, as I learned more about my family origins and also did some free family searches for dear friends, I discovered that I loved doing this research. I give presentations because I love to share whatever I have learned that I believe can help others.

What are your other interests outside of genealogy? 

First and foremost, baseball, especially following the New York Yankees, which can be a challenge in New England. I love playing the guitar and singing folk music being a child of the 60s and 70s—now I listen more than I sing. I also love to garden with enthusiasm if not skill. And my favorite interest is my sweet cat, Mr. Spice Pie, who offers me companionship, snuggles and amusement.

What is your favorite, most helpful resource that you feel is underutilized?  What are the biggest challenges of Maine research? 

Definitely New England town records including tax records. They can be hard to find, hard to decipher, hard to make sense of, but they are so worthwhile in terms of adding details about the location and times in which one’s ancestors lived and also about their lives.

Recording of vital records was not required until 1892 and so not all towns were diligent about recording them. Shortly after 1892 about 20% of Maine towns forwarded their records to Augusta but clearly that excludes many towns. In some locations, such as the Cumberland County Court House, records burned. The early Cumberland probate records prior to 1908 were destroyed. In general record keeping was not as rigorous as in Massachusetts proper. Records are not always located in a logical place and sometimes custodians guard them very fiercely.  Maine deeds, many of which are online, can be tremendously helpful but researchers need to cast a wider net regarding time, place, names and other details to make the most of them. People need to pay attention to county changes. For example all of Maine was in York County until 1760 when Cumberland and Lincoln Counties were formed. York Deeds were published in about 18 volumes, which covered transactions up to about 1737—this leaves the time period from about 1738 up to 1760 unpublished. Some people assume that everything is published. Maine research is challenging but rewarding—local records provide many clues. The Maine Historical Society in Portland, the Maine State Library and Maine State Archives in Augusta, and other repositories are tremendously helpful. The Maine Genealogical Society, which has published more than 80 volumes of town/city transcriptions and also Maine Families in 1790, is a great resource. People should check our web: www.maineroots.org.

Two of your lectures at this year’s conference concern tax records and land deeds. Are there any of these records that would be helpful for folks researching female ancestors or other ancestors who may not have owned property? 

Definitely yes. Women could be included in tax records if they headed a household or were widows.  Deeds often mention release of dower by a wife and include the wife’s name, indicating if she could write or if she signed with her mark. Women may be mentioned as neighbors. Tax records often included a poll tax based on a male between the ages of either 21 (sometimes 16 or 18) and perhaps 65. If John Allen was taxed for 3 polls one year, that indicated 3 males were of taxable age that year. If the next year he was taxed for 4 polls, this indicated that someone else in the household had come of age. If the next year there were only 2 taxable polls, perhaps a male had died or moved out of the household or became unratable as a poll. The more you learn about these records, the more clues you can find in them.

What does this year’s conference theme mean to you?  What would you say to convince a first-timer to attend? 

Family– Link to the Past and Bridge to the Future—that says it all. I enjoy learning more family stories about my ancestors, but even more I enjoy finding as yet undiscovered relatives and sharing family stories with the next generation.

This is my favorite conference. There are always excellent speakers discussing useful topics and friendly participants willing to share their knowledge, time and friendship. If you have New England ancestors, the conference is especially helpful. Even if you don’t think you have New England ancestors, you might have them, and the Conference provides much helpful information on how to conduct genealogy research.

There are still spots available for Carol’s workshop on Wednesday, so register quickly before they fill up! The conference is not just great workshops, lectures, and fantastic featured speakers. There is also a marvelous exhibit area featuring books, gadgets, and representatives from genealogical societies. Did I mention books? I also love the chance to spend a few days with other people who are passionate about family history. Each conference is an opportunity to make new friends and connect with old ones. See you in Manchester!

Carol Prescott McCoy, Ph.D., lives in Brunswick, Maine with her beloved cat, Spice Pie. She grew up in Bronxville, N.Y., attended Connecticut College and Rutgers University where she earned her doctorate in psychology. She taught psychology for many years, then management development at Chase Manhattan Bank in NYC and at Unum in Portland, Maine. She founded McCoy Training and Development Resources (a one person consulting company) in 1999 and then started Find-Your-Roots.com about 2004 (still a one-person company.) She has been a professional genealogist for about 15 years and has been the president of the Maine Genealogical Society since Jan 2018. Finally, she is ready to write her own family history and so she will be stepping down from most of her professional responsibilities. She will continue to help others as a genealogy coach. Her family roots are in Northern Ireland, Germany and England, West Virginia, New York and New England with a delightful mixture of Scot Irish an

MGS to Sponsor Michael Brophy at NERGC 2019

The Maine Genealogical Society is pleased to sponsor Michael Brophy as our society speaker at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference on April 3-6. He will be speaking 8:30 to 9:30 on Saturday morning.  Mike’s talk, “Maine Records at the Mass Archives,” reminds us that Maine has been a state for just under 200 years and the records for those who lived in the District of Maine before 1820 are housed in the Massachusetts Archives.

As a nationally known researcher from the Boston area, Mike is well positioned to help us delve into those records.  His professional work with private clients and as an heir search specialist requires that he look beyond the basic facts.  Sometimes that leads down paths that are unexpected. In his own family, he discovered a long hidden divorce in Ireland almost 100 years ago, and a great grandmother who was killed by a drunken driver.  Digging in courthouse papers and newspapers he was able to discover, as they say “The rest of the story.”

His introduction to genealogy came as is does for many of us with someone else’s work.  Mike reports that after an aunt died his cousin compiled an historical tribute.  That was the spark to begin his own research—what better way to study history than with his own family.  He recruited his father to help search through the attic for memorabilia then began the task of making sense of it.  In those days, that meant scrolling through reels of microfilm and visiting repositories eventually finding school records and passenger ship logs documenting his family’s journey from Ireland to New Brunswick in the early 1800’s. He eventually took a trip to New Brunswick to walk the streets and the countryside where his ancestors had lived.  Studying his family’s history also gives him perspective on the present.  Our problems pale when compared to the hardships our ancestors endured.

These days, Mike can still be found researching in repositories—even though some think otherwise, we all know that not all records are on the internet. He may using resources in the library of the NEHGS, the Boston Public Library or the Massachusetts Archives.  He subscribes to the FAN approach to research. Look around your subject for interactions. That requires those visits to repositories.  Finding the elusive document that answers a long sought family connection can be the “eureka” moment that drives research forward.

Mike’s talk can help us early Maine researchers find what that elusive document leading to our own eureka moment.  

For more information see the conference brochure at nergc.org.

Now Available – Vital Records of Bowdoinham, Maine

MGS Special Publication #84


Compiled by Marlene A. Groves


The town of Bowdoinham is located in Sagadahoc County and situated on the west bank of the Kennebec River on Merrymeeting Bay. The region was settled early, but conflicts with the Native American tribes for several years prevented a permanent settlement. It was not until after Dummer’s Treaty of 1725 that peace was restored and settlers began to return to the area. The town was incorporated on 18 September 1762 as the 14th town in Maine. In 1787 a portion of the town was set off to form the town of Topsham. In 1823 another portion of the town was set off to form the town of Richmond. According to the 1790 census the  population of Bowdoinham was 455, rising to a high of 2,402 in 1840 and declining after that to a low of 904 in 1930.

Included in this book are transcriptions from a notebook containing marriages by the Rev. Constant Quinnam from 1833 to 1864. The notebook is located in the special collections of the Maine Historical Society in Portland, Maine.

  • Pages: 800
  • Every Name Index: 27,403
  • ISBN: 978-1-949083-02-6
  • Library of Congress Control Number: 2018966350
  • Original Publication Date: February 2019
  • Non-Member Price: $50
  • Member Price: $40

Order Here

Greenville & Shirley Vital Records Now Available.

#83 VITAL RECORDS OF GREENVILLE & SHIRLEY to 1892 is Now Available. Compiled by Marlene A. Groves. 170 pages softcover. Greenville is 79 pages and Shirley is 56 pages. 3,342 Every Name index.  Retail $25. Members $18. We are only printing a small amount of these books in paperback format, but will also be offering it for FREE on our Members-only webpage. MGS Members can log in to the website and find a PDF of the text of the book in the Members’ Area. Both towns border each other in Piscataquis county. Our next book, #84 Vital Records of Bowdoinham 800p hardcover, should be available in January.

Order Here

Building a Collaborative Partnership Between a Genealogical Society and a Public Library

Anastasia Varnalis Weigle,
Wendy Lombard Bossie
and Brenda Jackson Bourgoine


From Genealogy and the Librarian: Perspectives on Research, Instruction, Outreach and Management © 2018 Edited by Carol Smallwood and Vera Gubnitskaia by permission of McFarland & Company, Inc., Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640. www.mcfarlandbooks.com.


Genealogical societies and libraries share a common ground as they both offer resource materials and assistance to their users and it is no surprise that the genealogist is a heavy user of libraries and archives, historical societies, and museums. Family history research continues to grow and is the “second most popular use of the internet” (Barnwell 2013, 261). For the archivist, understanding user needs and the behavior of genealogists was of interest back in 2003 when a study was conducted involving the in-depth interview of 10 genealogists (Duff and Johnson 2003, 79). The study found that many more relied heavily on colleagues and an informal network of researchers than on archivists. In an era of tight budgets, finding ways to maximize resources through partnerships and col­laborations can prove to be advantageous for some libraries and genealogical societies. Combined resources can better support users needs. Public Library archival collections contain resources that support the genealogist’s work.

The archivist, like the genealogist, must examine and interpret information to ensure the validity of the data. Genealogical societies serving a local town, city, or county will find local area libraries will have the same constituents (Litzer 1997, 40). However, public libraries that contain archival papers, but have no archivist and minimal staffing to main­tain, build, and promote their collections, may not realize the commonalities they have between their institution and their local or regional genealogical society. The opportu­nities afforded to libraries and genealogical societies through such collaborations can bring about better access to collections, collection growth, increased patron usage, pro­gram building, facility sharing for workshops and meetings, and grant opportunities for preservation and care of collections. How do two separate agencies work together as a single unit, yet still retain their identity? What types of policies should each group have in place before embarking on such a collaboration? How does this collaboration affect library staff and what do they need to know? One such collaboration has begun between the Caribou Public Library (CPL) and the Aroostook County Genealogical Society (ACGS). This essay will share the ins and outs of a joint effort to combine holdings from both institutions to build a Genealogical Research Center.

A Brief History of the Aroostook County Genealogical Society

Genealogy is more than a table of names or a list of dates. Genealogy is the genetic history of a person or a family. It answers the questions, “Who are we? “Where did we come from?” and “How did we get from here to there?” The genealogist’s task is to inves­tigate family origins, bloodlines, societal history, and human migration. It can tell us something about historical events through the lens of families living during a specific period in time. The genealogist’s source of information is numerous—vital statistics, birth, marriage and death records, oral history, periodicals, baptismal papers and family bibles, correspondences, diaries, and military records.

The Aroostook County Genealogical Society (ACGS) began on August 12, 2003, with their first meeting held at the Caribou Public Library meeting space called the Cari­bou Room. That first year the ACGS elected officers, a board of trustees, a mission state­ment, and drafted its first informational brochure. They drafted and made plans for a monthly newsletter to keep everyone informed and hoped to bring in more members. In the meantime, the ACGS met in the Caribou Room at the library when it was available to them. In 2005, the ACGS became a chapter, named “The County” of Maine Genealog­ical Society. Although the Caribou Public Library had archives and space for research, it did not offer ACGS a permanent meeting space. Instead, the genealogical society was provided meeting space if a meeting room was available. ACGS would seek meeting space through the arrangement of field trips. These tours took members to various loca­tions in Caribou such as the Family History Center Library located in the Caribou Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Vera T. Estey House, the Caribou Historical Center, Thomas Heritage House, and the University of Maine, Presque Isle Special Collections Room. The Caribou Lions building and the Chan Center at the Cari­bou Medical Center were available for a few years with occasional meetings in the Caribou Room. Late in 2014, the Caribou Library director invited ACGS to use the Archival area for meetings and to build a genealogical library within it. Print collections started to accumulate, through time, by the society and not secured in any repository. Instead, col­ lections were spread out in various members homes. Maintaining inventory of collections spread out was a challenge for ACGS. Before this time, a working relationship had been built with the library staff through members volunteering, so it was an easy decision for ACGS to make.

In 2006, the director of the Caribou Public Library loaned one file cabinet in which ACGS could store a few of their books in the archives. Later, a local business donated a lateral file cabinet for the society group, as they had outgrown the four-drawer cabinet loaned by the library. Although the library had a secure space for archives and special collections, the library did not have an archivist to organize, maintain or promote the collections. However, despite the challenges met by ACGS for a permanent meeting space and repository, between 2003 and 2014, the society was able to accomplish a great many things:

  1. Aroostook County Cemetery Location map project using Global Positioning Software (GPS).
  2. Cohosting Maine Old Cemetery Association with Caribou Historical Soci­ ety in 2004.
  3. Cleanup, repair, maintenance, and current caretaking of the Cochran Ceme­tery including photographing and documenting the gravestones.
  4. Bringing in guest speakers, touring museums and history centers, offering workshops and classes on genealogy research.
  5. Building liaisons with other groups such as the Nylander Museum in Cari­bou, Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle, LDS library in Cari­bou, Maine Genealogical Society, Maine Old Cemetery Association, Acadian Archives in Ft. Kent, Acadian Village in Van Buren and Libraries, Museums and Historical Societies in locations statewide.
  6. Publishing The Families of the Upper Saint John Valley in 1790 and Aroostook County Towns that sent men to the Civil War.
  7. Assembling and indexing thousands of obituaries.
  8. Providing information to people inside and outside of the Caribou area via the web site, through social media, emails, snail mail, and referrals.
  9. Assisting Caribou Public Library in preparing the Hardison Collection; which is a donated repository of maps, deeds and related papers from generations of Hardison men who were surveyors. The goal was to make a public database of these holdings available.

Brief History of Caribou Public Library Archives

In January 2004, the library underwent some building projects, which included the reallocation of space opening up large meeting rooms in the lower level of the library. These were converted into archival space to house a large donation of the Aroostook Republican newspapers dated from 1887 to 2004 and continue to be updated and main­tained to this day. The archives contained works of local writers and historians, photo­graphs, local newspapers, school yearbooks, city reports, and postcards. The room was secured and only accessible when staff was available. Although the idea was to create a genealogical research center, there was no collaboration during this time between CPL and ACGS.

Between 2014 and 2016, a new director of the Caribou Public Library came onto the scene. She liked the Archive Room and welcomed the idea for ACGS to hold meetings there and join efforts to combine holdings and build a genealogical research center. Space was given to ACGS in the archives research area to house all their collections making CPL the official repository for the society.

The library provided storage shelving, bookcases, and storage space for ACGS to house their collection making the CPL Archives a repository for them. Plans to combine ACGS genealogical materials with the library’s genealogical materials were discussed and then implemented. Because the library did not have a working archivist nor archival policies or standards for maintaining special collections, the collaboration had a bumpy start. The director, unfamiliar with archival standards, opened the archives room to the general public without supervision. Patrons used the space to eat, bring children to color or read, and used the space for various meetings. The director hoped that opening the space freely would give the patrons a sense of ownership. However, without advocating the archives, space was not considered special in any way by the general public. It was just another library space for patrons to congregate. Although the intention of the director was sincere, concerns for security was a major issue for ACGS. Again, a workable col­laboration would have to wait a while longer.

In January 2017, a new director with a background in archives management took over the position of Head Librarian for the Caribou Public Library. In keeping with the previous manager’s vision, the new director met with the President of ACGS, Brenda Bourgoine and past CPL librarian and now current Archivist for the Caribou Public Library, Wendy Lombard Bossie, to discuss policies and procedures that would benefit both institutions. New policies were set in place to help forge a stronger collaborative relationship that would benefit both institutions.

Working Policies for a Successful Collaboration

Since 2004, the library has maintained an archive to secure and protect historical collections, yet had no defined policies in place such as governing authority, purpose and mission, use and purpose of the archives and special collections, the role of ACGS within the library’s archive, and appraisal guidelines to ensure its success. In 2014, col­laboration was encouraged, but again, no archival policies were in place. These would need to be established first before collaboration could be implemented.

The Aroostook County Genealogical Society constituencies easily matched with Caribou Public Library thereby giving each an incentive to collaborate. ACGS and CPL are separate agencies with different mission statements. ACGS’ primary mission focused on the members who were interested in increasing their knowledge in genealogy research and networking opportunities. The goals were to increase public awareness through pro­grams and workshops and offer expertise in genealogical research:

The Aroostook County Genealogical Society a non-profit organization founded in 2003, is the soci­ ety for everyone from the beginner to the most advanced family historian. The ACGS serves its members by, 1) providing genealogical skills development through education information, publica­ tions, research assistance, and networking opportunities; 2) promoting the highest standards of ethi­ cal research principles and scholarly practices; 3) establishing important links with other groups worldwide; 4) providing depth and breadth of knowledge and opportunities for our members; 5) cre­ ating programs to increase public awareness of opportunities to discover family history; and, promot­ ing interest in the fascinating field of genealogy and family history [http://www.ac-gs.org/].

The mission of the Caribou Archives and Special Collections places primary focus on the collection, maintenance, and accessibility to archival resources. It is about stew­ ardship of archival materials of historical, intrinsic, evidentiary and administrative value, and making these collections accessible to scholars, genealogists, students, historians, and visitors.

… to identify, acquire, organize, preserve and make available materials pertaining to the history, cul­ ture, and people of the Caribou area and outline communities in Aroostook County and portions of the State of Maine that support our documents. These materials are available to genealogists, histori­ ans, scholars, students, and the general public. The library holds these materials in trust for future generations.

For the Caribou Public Library and the Aroostook County Genealogical Society, the decision to work collaboratively would require some written agreement, addressing ownership and access to materials. Each group must advocate for each other, which in turn offers strength and stability, increased access to users, visibility, and more oppor­ tunities for grants. The newly implemented archival policies that established the frame­ work that would help define the relationship with ACGS were placed under its Research and References Services policies:

The Caribou Public Library is the permanent repository of the Aroostook County Genealogical Soci­ety Research Center. Although a separate agency from the Caribou Public Library, ACGS and the Archival Collections at the library share their genealogy materials for easy access to users. As a spe­ cialized field, all inquiries for genealogical research will be provided by ACGS. The Archivist pro­ vides research services about Caribou history, its surrounding communities in Aroostook County, and the state of Maine as it relates to our collections.

Four types of collaboration were implemented: (1) exhibitions, (2) outreach/advocacy, (3) publications, and (4) grant writing. Of these four, outreach/advocacy services are the engines that drive our collaborative programs and overall partnership. It is ben­eficial to both groups when outreach/advocacy services are done collaboratively either in the forefront or in the background. Forefront advocacy is done when both groups are creating a program, event, or workshop together. For example, the Aroostook County Genealogical Society and the Caribou Public Library invited the public to an open house event. It was decided by both groups to have an open house as a way to intro­ duce the community to both organizations and their collections. GPL and ACGS co-hosted the event with representatives from both groups attending. The open-house was an opportunity not only to promote both organizations but to exhibit an ongoing project ACGS has been working on since 2001—seeking information on the provenance of a “Mystery Quilt” found at the bottom of an old tool box in Wisconsin. The quilt is owned by the Caribou Historical Society. How it got to Wisconsin from Caribou is truly a mystery. Its approximate date was established as late 19th century although that may change.

Brenda Bourgoine, ACGS President began researching the names on the quilt to try and identify who made it, why it was made, when it was made, and perhaps how it traveled to Wisconsin from Caribou. The research was set aside for some years, until Wendy Lom­bard Bossie, Library Archivist, and member of the Caribou Historical Center and Museum, picked up the research. The open house was an opportunity to share the quilt and its mystery to the community. The turnout was a success for both groups. Many vis­itors of the open-house were not aware that the library had archival collections. The pos­itive feedback from the community about the collaboration was another plus!

Behind-the-scenes advocacy relates to promoting each others programs. For exam­ple, when the Caribou Public Library has an event, either archives- or library-related, ACGS shares the press with their members on their social media. This is done equally by the library. To do this successfully, both groups keep abreast of each others activities. Since the library archivist is the liaison between ACGS President and the CPL Director, she is the connector between the two. This is what I mean by collaborations taking a “leap of faith.” This “leap of faith” requires both groups having a vested interest in each other in order to succeed.

Any ongoing outreach of various forms, including but not limited to tours, presen­ tations, workshop, sponsorships of meetings, seminars, and conferences related to ACGS and/or the Library Archives and Special Collections Mission will further the use and development of materials to serve the local and regional community.

Our publications policy is not to be confused with ACGS published works. Instead, it is an extension of Outreach/Advocacy. This is quite new for the library. Although ACGS has a brochure introducing themselves to the community, the Caribou Public Library has never had a brochure or booklet designed to market the archives. The Archives and Special Collections is in the process of designing brochures and descriptive guides (finding aids) to publicize its existence and information about its collaborative partnership with ACGS.

The Caribou Public Library archives and the ACGS will seek out and write grants collaboratively. Since we are both working together to strengthen each other’s collections and provide research support to users, developing well-planned collaborative programs together may open up opportunities for grant writing. “A deeply collaborative program plan demonstrates dedication to making a difference by leveraging available expertise and resources” (Floersch 2015, para. 1). Such collaborations would help to generate funds to support and sustain both groups such as educational and staff training, programming, workshops, assessment grants, educational programming, facility and environmental control upgrades, new housing materials, and digital project grants.

Collection Ownership and Access to Content

One aspect of this collaboration is the sharing of genealogical print resources. Genealogical societies are less likely to contain family papers or business records—some­ thing common in archives. What can be found in ACGS possessions are indices of obit­uaries, publications by the Maine Genealogical Society, genealogy periodicals, and books on specific family histories. The library archives have additional print resources useful to ACGS including maps and gazetteers, which are valuable to genealogists in need to identify the names of localities within the geographic area (Duff and Johnson 2003, 94). For the family historian, key factors in research are ease of use and accessibility (Richards 2006, 78).

Both groups agreed it would be advantageous to combine these particular collections into one location for easier access. Library Archives genealogical research materials were shelved with ACGS genealogical materials. To differentiate what books belonged to which group, those belonging to the library are identified by their call number, whereas ACGS materials are identified by their name or specific recording keeping code. This decision has been beneficial in supporting ACGS while still maintaining ownership of each others genealogical print collections.

Most important, ownership of print resources means good stewardship. The Caribou Public Library has an insurance policy for its materials and facilities. It is important that the society also has an insurance policy to protect its print collections from loss or dam­ages. The policy must be for replacement value, and not depreciation value.

Research Support and Services: ACGS vs. CPL

We start to see differences within each group when you examine how research sup­port and services are administered. The Caribou Public Library is a city department with non-profit 501(c)3 status through the Caribou Public Library Foundation. With numerous monetary trusts and support by the city budget through taxpayers, research service pro­vided to our users at the Caribou Public Library is free other than making copies of doc­uments using a standard photocopier or digital print. Flowever, the Aroostook County Genealogical Society, also a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, relies on membership dues, donations, and research-based fees to a non-member of ACGS.

The archivist’s knowledge specialty is local Caribou and Aroostook County his­tory, not genealogy. Therefore, we are unable to serve users by attempting to do this highly specialized research. On the other hand, when genealogists and family historians come seeking photographs, city plans of neighborhoods, newspapers, school, church, or business records, or other resources that are part of CPL’s archives, ACGS refers them to us.

The success of this type of resource/research collaboration only works because both parties communicate openly and often with each other. It also helps that the library archivist is the liaison between ACGS and CPL.

ACGS Provides Manpower for Library Archive Projects

One of the best assets of our collaboration with ACGS is their workforce support for Library archive projects. It is advantageous that ACGS know the scope of our collec­tions. To do so requires interaction between the library archivist and the President of ACGS, who is also the archivist for their organization.

Approximately ten years ago, the Caribou Public Library received a collection of city plan blueprints dating from the late 1800s to mid-1900s from the University of Maine in Presque Isle. The plans are extremely useful to ACGS research, but difficult to use because they had not been processed since they were accessioned years ago. This year, a project partnership was established between ACGS and CPL to survey, organize, rehouse, and create finding aids for the city plans.


The genealogists seek practical information consisting of specific facts and dates using census records, vital stats, and obituaries, whereas the family historians are seeking needs of a more profound nature—a way to connect to their past and seek identity (Yakel 2004, 4). The archivist seeks information through primary sources such as diaries, jour­ nals, and correspondence. The similarities between the library archivist and the geneal­ogist are to investigate the veracity of information found to determine its validity. However, at the same, we both understand the sensitivities of the family historian’s need to connect with one’s past.

What motivates the Caribou Public Library to collaborate with the Aroostook County Genealogical Society? For CPL, our motivation is visibility, stability, advocacy, and support. For ACGS, its motivation is space, stability, advocacy, and resources to help their users, which are our users. Wendy Bourgoine, President of ACGS is an active par­ticipant in the library archives. Brenda Bossie, the current archivist for the library, is an active member of ACGS. Their dedication is proof that such collaborations can make sense in organizations that have similar goals, missions, and stakeholders.

Lastly, our cooperation with each other is unique only to us and what works for us may not work for other libraries or genealogy societies. Collaboration is determined by the needs of the library and the local or regional genealogical society and what end results each one seeks.

Additional Resources for Librarians and Genealogists

Works Cited

  • Barnwell, Ashley. 2013. “The Genealogy Craze: Authoring an Authentic Identity Through Family History Research.” Life Writing 10(3): 261-275.
  • Duff, Wendy, and Catherine Johnson. 2003. “Where Is the List with All the Names? Information Seeking Behavior of Genealogists.” The American Archivist 66(1): 79-95.
  • Floersch, Barbara. 2016. “How to Collaboratively Strengthen Grant Proposals.” Linkedin [Post] (16 June 2016). Accessed April 20. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-strengthen-collaborative-grant-proposals-barbara-floersch.
  • Richards, Jennifer. 2006. “An Investigation into the Information Needs of Family History Researchers.” MA Librarianship Thesis, University of Sheffield.
  • Yakel, Elizabeth. 2004. “Seeking Information, Seeking Connections, Seeking Meaning: Genealogists and Family Historians.” Information Research: An International Electronic Journal 10(1): nl.

Marlene Groves Receives Award at 2018 Fall Conference


Presented to


In recognition of her many years of service to the Maine Genealogical Society, as editor of the Newsletter, as the author or coauthor of twenty- eight MGS Special Publications, as the leader of the Society’s vital record transcription project, and as a long-serving director, officer and friend to all.

The Maine Genealogical Society honors her extraordinary contributions and selfless dedication to the Society and to advancing the field of genealogy in the State of Maine

September 22, 2018

Photo of Marlene Groves with her award at the 2018 Fall Conference.

Marlene Groves with her award at the 2018 Fall Conference.

Now Available – Vital Records of Canton, Maine

MGS Special Publication #82


Compiled by Gregory S. Childs.


The town of Canton, Maine is located on the Androscoggin River in Oxford County and is the easternmost town of that county. The area comprising the towns of Canton and Jay had been granted by the Massachusetts General Court in 1771 to Captain Joseph Phipps and 63 other soldiers for service during the French and Indian War, and the grant became known as Phipps-Canada. Settlement began in the early 1790s, and Phipps- Canada was incorporated as the town of Jay in 1795. On 5 February 1821, the southwesterly section of Jay, approximately one-third of the entire town, was set off and incorporated as the 241st town in Maine and named Canton, after Canton, Massachusetts.

These newly found records were never microfilmed.

  • Pages: 448
  • Every Name Index: 11,218
  • ISBN: 9781949083002
  • Library of Congress Control Number: 2018947275
  • Original Publication Date: August 2018
  • Non-Member Price: $40
  • Member Price: $30

Order Here