Archives and Research

Front elevation, Hartley Lord House, Kennebunk.

The Museum serves as Kennebunk’s historical society. Extensive primary source materials ranging from diaries and family papers to commercial records, maps and architectural drawings attract researchers of all ages. Particularly significant are more than 3,000 historical photographs and vintage postcards, plus indexes for Kennebunk-built ships, local history subjects and genealogical collections. Area newspapers dating back to 1877 exist as bound originals and/or have been digitized.

A section of the archives is devoted to Maine authors, with sizable collections pertaining to Sarah Orne Jewett, Kenneth Roberts, and Booth Tarkington. Institutional records chronicling the Museum’s own history are rich in materials pertaining to the life of artist and Museum founder Edith Cleaves Barry (1884 – 1969).


View our archival finding aids, family genealogy listings and local history files to learn more about the Museum’s research collections. Visit the our digital resources center for engaging content using our archival collection.

The Museum is digitizing its oral history collection. You can explore featured recordings via our Oral History Digital Collection.

Become a Virtual Volunteer!

Help the Museum transcribe documents in our collection to protect and preserve information held within thousands of archival materials here in the Archives. Get started here.

Conducting Research

We look forward to helping you discover your history!

Please follow these Archives guidelines to perform research at the Museum:

  1. The Museum’s Collections Manager, Leanne Hayden, can be contacted with questions via or (207) 985-4802.
  2. Many times, we can email you scanned versions of the information you seek. Just give us a call!
  3. Please make an appointment to visit the Archives, as visitors are not allowed to visit the Archives without a staff member present, due to preservation standards. Appointments are generally scheduled between Tuesday and Saturday. NOTE: Without an appointment, we cannot guarantee immediate assistance, as other researchers or programs might take precedence.
  4. Research in the Archives is generally free. However, please consider joining as a Member or making a donation to support the Museum’s preservation work.
  5. Please bring a zip drive or provide an email address so that you can take your digitized images home with you.
Long-Distance Research

Can’t make it to Kennebunk? We’re happy to help! With archival digitization equipment, we have the ability to send most materials (especially photography requests) via email. Museum staff and volunteers will research your question(s) and respond in a timely manner.

Research time: 30 minutes of exploratory research and correspondence is complimentary. If our initial research show extensive results, we will let you know our time estimate.

Suggested donation for additional research: $10.00/hour (Members receive free research as a benefit)

Fees for Use:
  • Archives visit (with appointment): Free, with donations gratefully accepted
  • Photocopies (personal use): 15 cents/page
  • 300 DPI scans (personal use): First 5 scans are complimentary. Additional images are 15 cents/image (please bring your own zip drive or provide an email)
  • Reproductions and licensing: Please see our Reproductions & Licensing page for more information.