Ancestry.com and AmericanAncestors.org) and take a trip to the Maine Historical Society.
This is a big step and I am so excited for John. I also know how scary it can be to go to a repository for the first time. Here's are some tips to make the adventure a little smoother.
1) Take Care of Practical Matters
One of the quickest and easiest ways to smooth the road to your first repository is to handle the practical matters first. Go to the archive or repository website and determine their address, phone number and hours of operation. Next print out a mapquest with directions to the location. Even if you have a gps, the mapquest will act a backup in case there are any road closures or your gps stops working. Before you go, call the archive to make sure they will be open the day you will be arriving.
2) Check the Catalog
The archive should have either an online catalog or guidance documents of their collections on their website. Check these to make sure they have the records you are looking for. If you still aren't sure after viewing the website, send the archivists an email and ask. Better to find out before driving for any length of time.
3) Check for Restrictions
Some archives have restrictions on what you can bring into the research area and what you can copy or photograph. Some places will have lockers where you will need to store your personal items. Bring quarters in case the lockers require them. Also bring dollar bills in small denominations. There's nothing worse than only having a $20 bill and the copy machine only takes up to $5 bills. There will likely be a change machine but who really wants $20 in quarters! Toss a few pencils in with your pens. Pens are not allowed in some places.
If anyone has any other suggestions for a first timer please share them here. Also, if anyone has first hand experience with the Maine Historical Society, I'm sure John would appreciate hearing your tips.
Good luck, John! I'm sure you're going to have a great experience.
Photo Credit: Photo by Stephen Cummings and used under the creative commons license.