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.





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.


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)


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!]

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.


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!

NEA Fall Symposium

Friends, I was lucky enough to present at New England Archivists’ fall symposium “Archives in Action” this past weekend. The symposium took place on the gorgeous campus of Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, and the presentation was all about creating online exhibits using free and open-source tools and software. I had the distinct pleasure to co-present on this topic along with colleagues from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and all of our slides will be available via the NEA website. But I also wanted to share my stuff right here, along with some bonus links and maybe a thought or two.

My section of the presentation was specifically about using, which is a free exhibit creation site created developed by the folks at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. I really just wanted to talk to archivists about what they can do with, and share my experiences and *numerous* mistakes, erm, “learning moments” (that’s the kinder, gentler term for screw-ups, right?) Basically it’s a user-friendly, well documented tool; and for the bargain price of nothing…well you might as well give it a shot!

Online Exhibits on a Shoestring –

Galveston, Texas amateur newspaper 1873

Bonus Material!
The people at (and for that matter) have done a tremendous job of putting together resources about their products and comprehensive help pages, as well as project planning resources. I’m linking to some that I think are tops for archives thinking of using this resource.


I also wanted to include some of the work-arounds I was pondering out loud during my presentation: if someone is able to use these successfully I’d love to hear about it! Idea 1–You are on the free (limited space) plan and run out of space. You want to revise your site though, keep it fresh, add some new material. Try leaving the ITEM RECORD you created for the stuff you wish to remove with a note to contact library for image access, then delete the attached image/document/AV file. You’ll carve out a pocket of space to add new stuff while leaving the intellectual access for the item you removed. Idea 2–Easy contact form/analytics tool: use Google Docs to create a form or guest book or the like to embed in a Simple Page. The forms have built-in analytics so you can use that to make an effort towards metrics. Idea 3–Make sure to add the social media tool to your site. This makes it very simple to share your content with your users–make it part of your calendar/routine–image of the month or some such.

Final Thoughts…
One of the attendees made a great point to me after the presentation, asking why she should bother using when her state already provides an excellent collection sharing site. A great question! Many states now have active and well-supported programs for digitizing and sharing your history. In this case, the biggest point was that the collection I shared using was one that was national + international in scope, and fell outside of the parameters of our state history site’s local focus. So really the only way for me to share this material as a collection was by using a vehicle such as If your institution has one or more of these kinds of collections, and you wish to share them widely, then a tool such as may be the right choice for you.

Good luck…and have FUN!