New Year: New Discoveries About Your Past

Genealogy of William and Rhoda Thompson, of Scarborough and Portland, 1831

Here’s a great New Year’s resolution that doesn’t require dieting, exercising, or otherwise denying yourself: Get going on that genealogy project.

If you’ve always been curious about the roots and branches of your family tree, why not started digging in sooner rather than later?

Now happens to be an especially convenient time to get started. As of January 1, all Maine libraries were slated to offer access to Ancestry.com‘s 7,000+ databases free of charge. All you have to do is go to your public library and use their computers. (Brown Library at MHS has provided access to Ancestry Library edition for some time.) Read more about this great opportunity via the Maine State Library. Some public libraries will even be offering workshops on how to get started so check in with your local librarian!

In addition, for Maine Historical Society members, there’s a substantial new resource in the members-only section of the website: a digitized version of The Portland Record of Naturalization Papers, 1850-1910 Index.

The information in this database comes from Book 27 in Manuscript Collection 4 of the Portland Voter Registry Collection in the MHS archives. It is a listing of naturalized citizens during that time period. This book was most likely created by staff in the Portland Voter Registry office to prove that someone was a naturalized citizen before he was allowed to register to vote.

The entries in the volume are arranged chronologically within each letter of the alphabet. You can search the index by name and your results will include name, date of approval, date of papers, court where the naturalization happened, and the ward or street where the citizen resided. This index can lead you to the actual record that is in the collections of the Maine Historical Society and to additional records such as naturalization papers and passenger lists.

To access this index you need to be a member of the Maine Historical Society and create on online account on our website.

Finally, if you don’t know about the MHS Genealogy Forum, you should–because it’s accessible to anyone with an email address, regardless of membership. It’s a great place to post queries, or reach out to relatives you don’t know you have. If you’ve never posted comments or questions on a genealogy forum before, spend some time getting the lay of the land and looking at the other posts before you fire away.

Revelations about your family history may be just an online search or a query away. What are you waiting for? Resolve to start searching today.

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