Maine State Archivist David Cheever recently announced that Hope Historical Society will receive $900 to preserve and provide better access to its historical collections as part of the Historical Records Collection Grant Program. The program is administered by the Maine State Historical Records Advisory Board, with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The grant program is coordinated in Maine by the Maine State Archives.

Recent studies underscore that cultural resources are important in decisions to locate businesses or to choose a community in which to retire. These grants help to sustain the basic infrastructure of this key element of society.

“Grants such as this support community efforts to protect the stories of our birth, property rights, government, and how we lived our lives,” said Cheever in a news release. “People need to document their birth or naturalization to obtain a passport or to get medical care; others research their property boundaries; some seek long-lost relatives or to understand the history of the old mill down the road. Without these precious records, most questions like this would remain unanswered.”

A recent report to the Maine Legislature indicates that many of Maine’s historical collections (photographs, paintings, natural history, collections and letters) are in danger of being lost to fire, theft, mold or misuse.

“Maine has an estimated 200 million such records, many in facilities with little or no security, fire protection or environmental controls. Local governments, historical societies, and libraries are seeking help through grant program such as this one to preserve our heritage,” Cheever said.

Small grants have stimulated local citizens and organizations to commit more of their resources to these projects.

“Although financial support is important, recognition of local concerns and efforts through an award also generates a substantial amount of enthusiasm,” Cheever said.

The Maine State Archives is a bureau within the Department of the Secretary of the State. For information about the Historical Records Collections Grant Program, call Janet Roberts at 287-5791, email or visit maine.gove/sos/arc/mhrab/grants.html.