Collection Overview

The library and archives collections focus on the rich history of York Village, York Harbor, York Beach, and Cape Neddick. Of particular note are the personal papers of local civic and business leaders, deeds, town and church records, account books and business records, and photographs.


The collection includes over 7,000 printed books and pamphlets about York history and related subjects. Subject areas in addition to York history include general Maine history, decorative and fine arts; and landscape gardening. The Research Center also houses a collection of 600 rare books including memoirs, early textbooks, sermons, Sunday school books, and novels from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.


The manuscript collection includes many original sources such as diaries, correspondence, account books, scrapbooks, ships’ logs, architectural and engineering drawings, as well as the personal and business papers of individuals and organizations. The collection contains more than 5,000 processed items.

Highlights of the collection include: the Elizabeth Bishop Perkins collection, the Bragdon-Brooks family papers, the Emerson family papers, the George Ernst genealogy collection, the Lester Bragdon collection, the George Marshall papers, the Charles Edward Banks papers, and the Nowell-Trafton-Woodward papers.


The Research Center contains more than 10,000 photographs related to the history of York and its residents. It includes the photographic collections of Douglas Armsden, Emma Lewis Coleman, Angevine Gowen, Patrick Grace, Henry Harding, Elizabeth Bishop Perkins, Frederick Butler Quimby, Melville Munro Smith, and many others.

Visiting the Research Center

  • The Library is open Thursdays from 9am to noon. An appointment is required. When making an appointment please let us know the topics of your research. An appointment will help ensure that your visit is successful and that the staff is able to identify and retrieve the materials you need.
  • The Research Center is open to Old York Historical Society members free of charge, and to the general public for a fee. Guests are invited to become a member or pay a $5 daily fee.
  • Some archival material, special collections, newspapers and annual reports are stored off-site and require at least 48 hour notice for retrieval. Please inquire.
  • Fragile materials, including original photographs, maps, documents and newspapers, may be restricted at the discretion of the staff.
  • Each visitor is required to fill out a Researcher Registration form (PDF). You can print this form and bring it with you to save time. We will also ask to photocopy your driver’s license or another picture I.D. Please have these ready upon check–in.
  • Upon entering the Research Center, all coats, bags, purses, backpacks, umbrellas and other outside gear must be checked in the lockers provided in the lobby. Please avoid bringing oversized bags or luggage to the Research Center. While laptops are welcome, laptop bags must be checked.
  • Scanners and video cameras are not allowed. Use of a hand held, non-flash camera is limited to members of the society, including camera phones.
  • Wireless Internet connection is available. Staff is not able to provide technical assistance, however. Electrical outlets are limited.
  • No food or drinks are allowed in the reading room.

NOTE: Due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the Research Center is closed, and we are unable to respond to research questions at this time.

Schedule An Appointment

Please contact:

207-363-4974, x 107

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