Maine State Library to Digitize Historical Newspapers

This is huge news for Maine genealogists and historians:

The Maine State Library will digitize over 100,000 pages of historical Maine newspapers and make the content available online as part of a two-year, $275,000 grant announced this week by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The project will involve imaging master microfilm copies of Maine newspapers and optimizing the newly-created digital files so that text of the newspapers can be searched. The digitized content will then be uploaded to the web-based Digital Maine repository at, and the Library of Congress Chronicling America archive at .

“Digitization of these historic newspapers will greatly enhance access to first-hand accounts of Maine history as it unfolded,” said Maine State Librarian James Ritter. “Anyone with an internet connection will be able to browse the papers or perform a quick keyword search to look for stories about specific people, places or events from the past.”

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This is great news!

Hi Chris,

Do you or anyone know if and when the Machias Union newspaper from the 1860's may be available? Any information would be helpful, thank you, Gary Wilson

I have heard no news on the project since it was announced. I'm hoping that we will hear something of its progress soon.

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your reply, Gary Wilson

We (The Museums of the Bethel Historical Society) sent MSL our masters of the Oxford Democrat from 1850-1920 about three months ago. Hopefully, we will receive an update soon. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the other newspapers we hold masters for will be covered by the project (at least not the initial phase). However, we may be fundraising in the future to have the digitization of our other papers done ourselves.

That is wonderful! I was hoping the Democrat would be chosen for inclusion.

The Maine State Library has set up this page as part of their process of locating microfilm masters. It does not appear that the Machias Union is on the list.

Thanks, Will! According to this, the masters for the Machias Union are held in Chicago.

Update on this project: We still haven't received any word on the progress from the Maine State Library, but I discovered that they are beginning to post the Oxford Democrat newspapers to DigitalMaine:

There is a built in search engine on the site, but I have had better luck using Google. Just put into the Google search box: "Oxford Democrat" <your search terms>.  Some of the title pages appear to be incorrect at this point, but the scan and OCR quality is very good.

We have also just mailed 74 rolls of the Bethel News and Oxford County Citizen to a microfilm conversion company and hope to make portions of those papers available on in the coming months.

Thanks for the update, Will! Oxford Democrat results are showing up on the Library of Congress site as well!


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