AUGUSTA – The Maine State Archives has launched its first-ever catalog of its holdings, via the online ArchivesSpace portal, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows announced today.
For the first time in the Maine State Archives’ 56-year history, researchers can now search through the bureau’s listing of collections online to see if the Archives is the right resource for their purposes, before contacting an archivist to access the actual documents.
“This is a first step, for the public to have an awareness of what we hold, and we will be building it into a public resource that will eventually link up with the actual digital copies of items such as documents and maps that we have posted to DigitalMaine,” said Katherine McBrien, Deputy Secretary for Archives.
The launch of the Maine State Archives ArchivesSpace portal is the product of five years of work, recently accelerated by the inventory necessitated by the ongoing extraction of holdings from the Cultural Building during building repairs.
“The new ArchivesSpace catalog makes the Archives more accessible than ever before by listing the full scope of our holdings,” said McBrien, “and it serves as an important electronic resource for staff as well.”
Only about half the state archives across the country have completed this type of public-facing indexing. ArchivesSpace is a nonprofit organization created by archivists, hosting finding aids for subscribers on the cloud.
The Maine State Archives maintains approximately 100 million pages of official State records considered to be permanently valuable, such as bills introduced in the Legislature, Governor’s Executive Council Reports, election returns, deeds, maps and military records through World War I. In addition, the bureau’s Records Management division is the custodian of all State records that must be retained for certain statutory periods of time.
“Maine State Archives is a treasure trove of information about our state’s history, and we are excited to take this first step toward making this information more widely available online,” said Secretary Bellows. “Imagine students being able to access remarkable primary source documents from the classroom or their living rooms for research and learning. Our vision is that future generations will be able to access these precious documents from the comfort of their homes, schools or work.”