Thursday, September 2, 2010

Changes in Maine Law affect Genealogy

My ancestors have come from all along the Maine and New Hampshire border since their immigration from England in the 1600s. The first Wilkinson married in Portsmouth, lived in Kittery (just over the river) and his children lived in Berwick, Maine and Rollinsford, New Hampshire on both sides of the Piscataqua River. As the descendants of these children moved north, following the river, you can find them in Somersworth, Rochester, Wakefield, and Effingham, New Hampshire- or you can find them in Lebanon, Springvale, Shapleigh and Parsonsfield, Maine.

We used to summer on Lake Balch, which is half Maine and half New Hampshire. To get there you would follow Rt. 153 and we’d see “Entering Maine” and “Entering New Hampshire” signs all along this road as we traveled in and out of either state during our sojourn around the lake. And so, as I traced my family tree, I was traveling in and out of either state, often forgetting where I was at any one time. Now I can no longer do that in Maine. I must remember on what side of the state line I am located when I request a record.

Starting on July 12, 2010, individuals can no longer request vital records in Maine without documentation. Any record (birth, death, marriage and domestic partnerships) less than 100 years old will require the requester to provide a legitimate interest in the record. In other words, because of widespread fraudulent use of vital records, you must prove your immediate family interest in the records, which may include a relationship to:

* The person named on the record;
* The person's spouse or registered domestic partner;
* The parent(s) named on the record;
* Descendants of the person named on the record;
* Registrant's legal custodian, guardian, or conservator or respective authorized representative (includes attorney, physician, or funeral director); and
* Be a genealogist with a Maine CDC issued researcher identification card

How do you receive a Maine CDC (Center for Disease control?) issued researcher card? You must apply at the website or in person at:

Vital Records Unit
Office of Data Research and Vital Statistics
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Maine Dept. of Health and Human Services
224 Water Streeet
11 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0011

Along with the application (available at the website) you must provide a $50 fee, a photocopy of your government issued photo ID (passport or driver’s license), AND a photocopy of your membership in an established genealogical society. The researcher card is valid for one year only, and entitle you to view or purchase non-certified copies of birth, death and marriage records registered in the State of Maine that are less than 100 years old. You must provide the CDC card along with positive proof of ID when requesting records from any municipal clerk or from the Vital Records staff. (taken from the Maine Division of Public Health website)

for more information please see: from the Maine Genealogical Society Blog Maine Division of Public Health

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Hmm. I have a host of families that moved back and forth between Coos County, NH and Oxford County, Me. So far I haven't requested any records from Maine but it certainly seems they are making it more cumbersome to do so.

  2. I sent a prepaid request for two vital records to Maine State Archives on August 26th and received both yesterday, with absolutely no problem. Interesting, right?