Saving the Past

Downtown Bar Harbor

The Mount Desert Island Historical Society, founded in 1931, welcomes the donation of significant items that will help illustrate and teach about Island life.  We carefully preserve historical photographs, documents, books and artifacts from the late 18th century to the present.

We would be happy to assist in research related to the history and people of Mount Desert Island. 

Our archival collections include many manuscripts and genealogies. We also have several thousand photographs of Mount Desert Island from the 1850s to the present.  Appointments are recommended for researchers.

You may call the executive director, Tim Garrity, at 207.276.9323, or write us at

Our collections include:

Artifacts ~ Ship building tools, accessories from early kitchens, children's toys, historic clothing, examples of traditional needlecrafts, fine china and furnishings.

Archives ~ Newsclippings, letter, deeds, diaries, business records.

Genealogy ~ Information on families from all over the island. We specialize in the Somes and Richardson families as well as other early Somesville settlers.

Photographs ~ Daguerreotypes and ambrotypes of MDI residents during the mid-nineteenth century. Historic views of Somesville and other parts of the island. Special collections include the Charles Butt collection of W. H. Ballard's photographs of yachts and working boats from the 1930s through the 1960s. The LaRue Spiker Collection contains the photographs and notes of a well-known journalist on Mount Desert Island from the 1950s through the 1980s. She captured people at work and at play and also used her photographs to draw attention to threats to the island's environment.

Mount Desert Island