Primary Resources are used in researching posts wherever possible. These include, but are not limited to:
Property tax rolls. These are a matter of public record. Most communities post this information online. Some are very basic. Some very in-depth. It’s wise to check how new the data is as update rates vary.
The Cumberland County Registry of Deeds. It’s a bit cumbersome. The records go back to the pre-revolution era. The effort is worth it.
The City of Portland 1924 tax rolls hosted by the Maine Historical Society at the Maine Memory Network. This is a comprehensive list. Included are scans of the property cards and, most significantly, photos of every structure listed. Check out the Maine Memory Network as they always have great things going on
Find A Grave. A resource for place and date of death along with biographical information and familial connections. As it is a user-managed, it should not be considered as a primary source. Information gleaned from the site should be cross-referenced to primary sources. Otherwise, the information should be treated as anecdotal.
FamilySearch.org. This is the public outlet for the genealogical database built by the Mormon Church. There is a lot of good data here. All public census, many marriage and death records, passport applications (a great place to find photos of people BTW), and much more. I haven’t much faith in the family tree part of the site as I have found far too many errors. “Stick with official documents” is my mantra here.
Chronicling America. The Library of Congress’ archive of American newspapers. The site has a database of all newspapers published in the US over its history. It also has a section devoted to historic newspapers available online. The list for Portland is not large and changes but there is a lot that can be found in this archive.
Sanborn insurance maps. These maps are not widely known outside the insurance and historical fields, but they are an incredible resource for confirming house locations, shapes, sizes, usage, and materials. Later maps incorporated increased details on major structures. Currently, The Library of Congress has Sanborn maps for Portland from 1886 and 1896. The 1886 set does not include most of the West End beyond State Street, Bayside, and a large part of Munjoy Hill. The 1896 map covers almost all of the peninsula and selected locations in neighboring communities.
The Goodwin Atlas. In 1882 William Goodwin, the Portland City Engineer, produced a map of the entire city showing all parcels with buildings and noting the owner of each. This was done for a revaluation. The maps are in black line and are very good documents of the city’s properties in that year.
John Calvin Stevens on the Portland Peninsula. 1880 to 1940. Earle Shettleworth Jr. Greater Portland Landmarks Press 2003
Deering. A Social and Architectural History. Greater Portland Landmarks. 2010(?)
Portland Historic Resources Inventory of 1976. Maine Historic Preservation Commission.
History of Portland. William Willis 1833-34. Revised 1865
Portland Directory 1846. Sylvester Beckett
Portland Directory 1858. Sylvester Beckett
Portland Directory 1866. Sylvester Beckett
Portland Directory 1873. Sylvester Beckett
Portland Directory 1910. Tower Publishing
Portland Directory 1926. Tower Publishing
Portland Directory 1963. Tower Publishing
This was Stroudwater 1727 – 1860 Myrtle Kittridge Lovejoy. 1985 Published by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the State of Maine. This organization owns the Tate House.
E-Books & Pdfs
Portland Directory 1823
Portland Directory 1828
Portland Directory 1834
Portland Directory 1844
Portland Directory 1846
Portland Directory 1850
Portland Directory 1852/53
Portland Directory 1856
Portland Directory 1858
A glossary of architectural terminology is always handy.
Love what you are doing. I owned 1 Stratton place for a period of time… always wanted to know more of its history.. and the history of the row..
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Do you happen to have any information on Swan (sp?) Houses in Portland? When we bought our home on Washington Ave, the inspector mentioned that several of the houses were built post-war by soldiers returning home; He referred to them as Swan Houses. We know ours was built in 1955. I’ve tried to do my own research but haven’t had much luck on my own.
I haven’t heard of them before. Looking at my 1963 Portland City Directory, there’s a carpenter named John Swan working out of a shop on Read Street and living in South Windham. Mr Swan’s wife was named Florence. I found their graves in Windham at the link below. Hope this helps a bit.