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October is American Archives Month – Researching your house

posted: , by Cindy Dykes
tags: About the Library | Library Collections | Adults | Art & Culture | Genealogy | Portland History

Is your house turning 100 years old? Are you curious what it looked like in years past? Who lived there? Who the neighbors were? The Portland Room and Archives have several resources that can help you answer these questions.

The Portland City Directories in the Portland Room date back to 1823, but most useful are the ones that date from 1882, as they include an alphabetical listing of streets along with the heads of household at each address. The directories also have an alphabetical listing of heads of households that include their home address, and often their work address and occupation. Once you have the head of household name, you can go to the census records [available through Ancestry.com (in-library) or HeritageQuest.com] and see who else resided with them, as well as obtain biographical information on those residents.

The Portland Room has two digitized maps, the 1882 Goodwin Atlas and the 1914 Richards Atlas, that show streets, addresses, footprints of buildings and what the buildings are made of, as well as a print copy of 1957 Sanborn fire insurance map.

If you home is in a historic district, it may appear in the “Portland Historic Resources Inventory” compiled by Earle Shettleworth and John E. Pancoast (1975). If your house is part of this inventory, the address and name of the house is given, as well as date built, architectural style, and what it was built of. Occasionally pictures can be found, as well as the architect’s name.

24 Monroe St., in 1957 from the Portland Room photo Archives

24 Monroe St., in 1957
from the Portland Room photo Archives


A great source of photos are the 1924 Portland Tax Records available online through Maine Memory Network. Newspaper articles may also be a source of pictures or articles written about your house. Articles appearing in the Portland newspapers from 1945-1992 are indexed.

The Portland Room also had several books on how to trace the history of your home. So come on in and we will help you find the resources that will help you tell your house’s story.


October is American Archives Month

posted: , by Cindy Dykes
tags: About the Library | Library Collections | Adults | Genealogy | Portland History

October is American Archives Month. Portland Public Library’s Portland Room and Archives is a rich resource for researching family genealogies, house histories, historical research of businesses and industries in Maine as well as other historical topics. Each week in October the Portland Room will feature some of the resources that can be used in researching these areas.

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Genealogy Research: Interested in where you are in your family tree, or in those that came before you? In addition to the genealogical databases PPL subscribes to, such as Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest, we have vital records (records of birth, marriages, and deaths) on microfilm from pre-1892 – 1955. There are also some print versions of vital records for some individual Maine towns. Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest also have census records, which are invaluable for tracing family members back in time. Resources for passenger lists are also available through Ancestry.com, but the Portland Room also has some passenger lists in print format.

The Portland City Directories are also great resources for tracing your family. In addition to listing residents, the directories are searchable by street. Sometimes the date of death appears, and often the residents’ occupations and the location of where they worked is present.

There are also town and county histories as well as some published family histories in the Portland Room. We also have indices for the burial records at the Eastern and Western cemeteries.

A final favorite is searching obituary and death notices through the microfilmed copies of the Portland newspapers.


Peaks Branch Renovation Plans Moving Ahead

posted: , by Emily Levine
tags: About the Library | Director's Updates | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | News

Work continues behind the scenes on the Peaks Island Community Center and Branch Library renovation project. Architect Dick Reed and his engineers and designers have met with our renovation design committee, which includes Peaks residents, Library staff members, and colleagues from the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Facilities.

We have largely completed the design of the basic layout of spaces, storage, traffic flow, and rest rooms. We continue to finalize the precise set-up of the library service desk and shelving, furnishings and finishes for floors and walls, as well as details in the community room.

The new design in the library features lower-profile bookshelves to provide a lighter, more open and flexible space, while actually accommodating more books and library materials. The renovation will also provide new display space for art.

Work on heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning has progressed, along with a design for a new electrical system and lighting. Energy audit work by engineer Andrew Holbrook (funded by the Peaks Energy Action Team) has been valuable in identifying energy improvements.

The project is on track to go to bid in late fall for construction to begin early in the new year. Key to our progress is the generosity of our New Vision Campaign donors, whose pledge payments ensure that we have sufficient funds in-hand to proceed on this timeline. Thank you!

We look forward to keeping you up-to-date on the progress!

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