Your Family Stories: Learn, Preserve, Share, Repeat.

Picture2[Part II of McArthur Library’s Family History Month 2015 series.]

An important part of preserving your family treasures is to preserve the CONTEXT of those materials. How many of us have stacks of old photographs that were handed down, yet we have no idea who the people are in the pictures?

Unless there is someone or something in the background that may clue you in, not knowing the who/what/why of the things we keep negates the keeping of them in the first place. This should be reason enough for taking the time to label your images/files/other materials that don’t obviously tell you why they matter or who they are about.

New York Public Library’s Carmen Nigro gives us “Twenty Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History

The resurgence in popularity of scrapbooking has had the great effect in that folks are not only labeling their images, they take the time to write a little blurb about them too, preserving the story that they want to tell about themselves and their loved ones. There are many ways today, via the Web, to connect with people to solve the mysteries of your family history. The use of social media allows us to interact with and share with friends and family anywhere in the world, and is a great way to figure out who that guy is in the picture with Great Aunt Edna from the 1978 family reunion. Numerous genealogy sites allow you to view the work of and connect with people whose family tree intersects with your own.



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Caring For Your Family Treasures

Picture2[Part I of McArthur Library’s Family History Month 2015 series.]

Today, caring for your family treasures means more than just keeping those old photos dust-free and wrapping grand-memere’s wedding veil in tissue paper. Not only do we have our analog family treasures, we have digital family treasures as well.

How about all those CD’s of digital photos in the back of your desk drawer? Or have you ever even made back-ups? Do you even have film negatives of your children, or are all of your photos on your computer, tablet or smartphone?

Also, with changing weather patterns and more extreme (read: unexpectedly bad) weather, are you prepared for an emergency or disaster? We know enough to leave the “stuff” and get ourselves to safety, but after the fact, what do you do to try and save what is left?

Read on for tools and techniques to help you keep your family treasures, of whatever kind, safe for the future.





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October is (sorta) Family History Month!

Picture2Hey so October is unofficially the official month where we celebrate Family History in the U.S.A.! (Note of explanation: OK, so FHM is an official thing in Australia, and some states and municipalities in the U.S. have designated it as a permanent thing; the U.S. Senate declared October “Family History Month” in 2001 then again in 2005– but for those years only. That’s official enough for us, so we’ll just go with it.)


And we want you to know there are TONS of resources, both online and here in the library, for those interested in researching, preserving and sharing their own family history. 

So, in honor of Family History Month, we’ve got all kinds of things happening.

  • On the blog/social media sites: we will feature two upcoming posts with resources: “Caring For Your Family Treasures” and then “Sharing + Preserving Your Family Stories”.
  • In the library: we have several great programs that connect with the theme of Family History (check out the calendar of events), and there will also be a display upstairs of handouts and books available on Family History, Doing Genealogy, Caring For Family Treasures and Sharing + Preserving Your Family Stories.


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Biddeford Cemetery Maps


Greenwood Cemetery (detail view), Biddeford, Maine.

[This post originally had a crazy title, because I was thrilled about finding these materials. I’ve since toned it down for ease of linking and reading. -Renee]


Sorry. I know it is terrible netiquette to write in all caps, but I am so excited! While looking for an item that I had digitized, I stumbled across the MOST AMAZING FIND. Our glorious State of Maine has digitized maps of most of the cemeteries in Biddeford!


I believe that this now gives us all access to maps of all the large cemeteries in Biddeford. The State maps are WPA maps, and therefore dated, but something is better than nothing! And hopefully will help you get started. Click on the links below to access the maps. Enjoy!

WOODLAWN CEMETERY (*May show up as “Woodland” but will be fixed soon, it’s definitely Woodlawn.)
ST. DEMETRIOS CEMETERY (Up to date, accessed via the Church website)

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So you are trying to locate an obituary that may have appeared in the Journal Tribune? Did you know that if it is 1977 or later, you can search online??

Yes friends, it’s true! At Goodall Library’s Online Obituary Index, you can search for obituaries which would have appeared in the Journal Tribune from 1977 to Present (they have much more to offer as well, you can read all about it on their site). They have created a simple, user-friendly index where you can see the name and age of the deceased, as well as the newspaper and date on which their obit appeared. With that information, you can contact or visit the library of your choice to access a copy of the obituary.

[We here at McArthur Library would like to officially announce that we think the folks at L.B. Goodall Library in Sanford are, well, amazing.

Wayne and Garth

Thank you for your hard work! You guys ROCK!]

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Learn about bringing your family photos into the digital era…

Attention family historians and genealogy enthusiasts!

Here is a great opportunity to learn about scanning/photographing YOUR historic photographs and then how to share them. The workshop takes place in Boston on March 27, 2015 and the cost starts at $50. It is presented by Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), real experts in the field.

unidentified family

Unidentified family group, Elite Studio collection, circa 1920. Courtesy of McArthur Public Library.


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A little inspiration for the newest townies…

Biddeford is in the middle of something big…we all know it, it’s been years in the making, and it’s pretty cool. There’s so much hubub, building, renovation, and yes demolition! going on nowadays…the city is changing before our eyes. But you know, it’s not the first time this has happened. Biddeford has always been a dynamic place, from fishing village to bustling lumber, milling and trading hub to textile manufacturing mecca. No matter what or whom has been at the heart of Biddeford, the face of the town is ever growing and changing. It’s one of the most interesting parts of my job, to piece together places in their many iterations, and then finding some way to share that with the community.

I’ve been cataloging a large number of old images of streets, homes and buildings lately, and thinking about all the renovating and upgrading and new construction going on downtown and elsewhere. It came to me that maybe you all would like to see some of the beautiful old dwellings which have graced our streets in the past. Maybe these images will inspire some of you newcomers in your renovations and rebuilding work, I hope they do! And if you have any questions or want to see more, you can feel free to contact us at the library or take some time to poke around the Local History Catalog (which is updated on a regular basis with new materials). Enjoy!!!

PS. Please excuse any mistakes made in my descriptions–my enthusiasm far outweighs my architectural expertise. Feel free to share what you know about this stuff!

Image 2439. Home on Center Street, Biddeford.

Image 2439. Home on Center Street, Biddeford.

Postcard Carr 619. Homes along Elm Street near South Street (200 block).

Postcard Carr 619. Homes along Elm Street near South Street (200 block). (Recognize these homes?? The mansard roofed building is now white, and the little New Englander has a big porch attached to the face of it now. Look at those trees!)


Postcard Carr 343. This is after the Harmon’s Corner fire, but see those homes? That’s the Methot Insurance building on the corner of Main and Elm, and the cute little cape next door is where the rental store is now.

Image 3008.  A home in Biddeford, circa 1877. The location is unknown, but this is a great example of a nice, simple home. Check out the pretty lamp on the corner!

Image 3008. A home in Biddeford, circa 1877. The location is unknown, but this is a great example of a nice, simple home. Check out the pretty lamp on the corner!

Apartment building, Elm Street and Emery Court (St. Joseph's Street), circa 1910.

Postcard bid.gen.039. I love this building! It was next door to St. Joseph’s Church, now it’s the parking lot. Beautiful windows and details, and check out those great buildings around it!

Image 0772. Apartment buildings on Main Street @ Elm Street (across from St. John's Building).

Image 772. Apartment buildings on Main Street , near St. John’s Building. Check out those great bay windows!

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