A postcard written in french about a visit to Biddeford, Maine, circa 1900.

Local History & Genealogy

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Researching history (either your own family history or the history of a place, time, or people) can be a lot of work...and a lot of fun, too! Our library is home to many resources for history and genealogy researchers interested in the Biddeford-Saco area, northern York County and coastal Maine.  


Our friendly Reference Staff  are available to answer questions and get you oriented to our collections and materials. If you are doing a complex project, telephone or email us a few days before your visit and we can do a resource search ahead of time. This can be especially helpful if the library happens to be very busy when you come, or if you are visiting from out of town and are on a tight schedule.


Library Hours

Monday to Thursday
9:30 am - 8:00 pm

Friday 9:30 am - 5 pm

Saturday 9:30 am - 3:30 pm

Sundays & Major Holidays CLOSED

  A Note About Access-  
  We are proud that as a public institution all of our materials are available for use at any time that the library is open. However, we do have a number of unique and rare materials which require extra care by us as well as you. These materials include our Photograph and Postcard collections, as well out-of-print local histories and many delicate printed materials. These materials are stored in closed (not open to the public) stacks, and we will be happy to retrieve them for you. Before we do so, we will fill out a Call Slip and ask that you present either your McArthur Library card or another form of Identification at that time. Your cooperation in helping us care for and maintain our special materials is greatly appreciated!  

Did you know that one of the best things you can do to help us maintain our materials is to make sure to
wash your hands
before you handle them?

It only takes a minute but it makes a huge impact!




Biddeford High School students (boys and girls) participating in an historical pageant. The group poses in old fashioned clown costumes for a photograph in 1915.




Our Collections

  Newspapers (Microfilm)  
  • Union & Journal/Biddeford Weekly Journal (1877-1930)

  • Biddeford Daily Journal (1884-1959)

  • Biddeford-Saco Journal (1959-1977)

  • Journal Tribune (1977-Current)

  • La Justice (1896-1950)

  • Biddeford/Saco/Old Orchard Beach Courier (1989-Current)




  • York County Atlas (1872)

  • Early Biddeford (1835-1840) [facsimile]

  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps - Paper (1885, 1891, 1896, 1901, 1906, 1912, 1922)

  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps - Electronic (1867-1970)

  Vital Statistics  
  • Biddeford Vital Statistics Prior to 1856

  • Biddeford Births (1800-1891)

  • Baptisms at Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish, Saco (1928-1985)

  • Biddeford Marriages (1854-1891)

  • Marriages at St. Andre's Church, Biddeford (1899-1995)

  • Marriages at St. Joseph's Church, Biddeford (1870-1995)

  • Marriages at St. Mary's Church, Biddeford (1850-1989)

  • Marriages at St. Margaret's Church, Old Orchard Beach (1921-1985)

  • Biddeford Returns of Death (1814-1898)

  • Biddeford Obituaries (from the Journal newspapers) (1884-Current)

  • La Justice Obituaries (1896-1950)

  • Biddeford/Saco/Old Orchard Beach Courier Obituaries (2002-2006)

  • Maine Cemetery Inscriptions-York County

  • St. Joseph Cemetery Records (1870-1990)

  • Biddeford Cemetery Records (Woodlawn, Greenwood, & Others) (1700-1998)

  Publications & Indexes  
  • Biddeford-Saco City Directories (1849-1987)

  • Biddeford Area Phonebooks (1942-Current)

  • York Deeds [York County, Maine] (1640-1737)

  • United States Census (Microfilm) (1800-1930)

  • United States Passenger & Immigration Lists Index

  • Biddeford Area Biographical Resource
  Special Collections  
  • General Subject Vertical File (including clippings/stories of and about Biddeford and area)

  • Photograph Collections *some image access available online at the Maine Memory Network

  • Postcard Collections

  • "The Pepperell Sheet" Newsletters (1939-1948)





General Historical Research Tips

  • Maine did not become independent of Massachusetts until 1820 - if you are doing research prior to this period, remember to include Massachusetts resources in your "to read" list!

  • Keep a list (bibliography) of resources which you have consulted for your research - including the name of the institution at which you found the resource(s). Make sure to include this information with the notes you took, as well. This is especially helpful for those doing large, long-term projects.
  • Use the catalog! Do a "subject" search using <Biddeford (Me.)-Genealogy> or <Biddeford (Me.)-History> to pull up many of the print resources that we have here. Open up your search to other institutions, too-you may be surprised to find someone just up the road has what you are looking for!

  Go Behind the Scenes with McArthur Library's Archivist!  
  Find out what is happening behind the scenes with the archives and special collections at the McArthur Library by visiting Renée's blog, The Backblog. Be sure to leave your comments and questions!  


February 18, 1902. Front page view of Biddeford newspaper "The Nightly Comet" with photo of library benefactor Elizabeth Stevens.




Quick Links:



The Franco-American Genealogical Society of York County


Biddeford Historical Society


Maine State Archives


Maine Historical Society


Maine Archives & Museums


Maine Genealogy Resources


Maine History Resources


New England

National Archives- Northeast Region (Mass.)


Massachusetts State Archives


Massachusetts Historical Society


New England Historic Genealogical Society



National Archives (U.S.)-

Tips for Genealogists


Library of Congress





Collections Canada


Canadian National Archives


UNESCO Archives Portal





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