100 YEARS of York history is now online: Welcome to the York History Digital Archive!

Jul 11, 2023 | News

York Public Library, in partnership with Old York Historical Society, Advantage Preservation, and The York Weekly, is pleased to announce the long-awaited unveiling of the York History Digital Archive. Thanks to a generous grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, 100 years’ worth of York Weekly, its predecessors, related supplements, and miscellaneous ephemera has been completely digitized.

It is relatively common for small town papers not to retain a physical archive of their publications. York’s succession of publications was no different. Old York is the only institution in the country that holds anything close to a near complete run of York’s town newspapers. For decades, they have been preserving their newspaper collection by microfilming it. The film is not indexed however, and so the only way to search it is page by page by page. Furthermore, as Old York does not receive any public funding, they have very limited hours of operation for researchers. The content was preserved, but technology wasn’t available for Old York to make it truly accessible.

“York Public Library, with their expertise in digital technology, is opening a door to unprecedented discovery of York’s history. There’s nothing like a local newspaper, at all, for giving you a real good picture of what was important in a community, what was going on, who the personalities were,” said Joel Lefever, Executive Director & Chief Curator at Old York Historical Society.

Building upon a partnership established nearly 5 years ago when Old York transferred their genealogical collection to the library, Old York agreed to lend YPL 100 reels of microfilm largely spanning the years 1891-2016. The library secured a $20,000 grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation and subsequently sent the film to Advantage Preservation in Iowa. There, it was digitized, and to make it fully keyword searchable, the content was run through optical character recognition (OCR) software, and indexed.

Michelle Sampson, Executive Director of York Public Library said: “It can’t be overstated how significant this archive is for the community. Freely available and keyword searchable to anyone with a computer and an internet connection, it adds breadth, depth, and context to the local history materials in each of our institutions. Part of the library’s mission is to provide free and equitable access to all, and we are beyond grateful to the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation for making it all possible.”

The database is currently “live” and can be accessed from the library’s website at yorkpubliclibrary.org/archives. The library has also prepared short instructional videos for how to use the database which are accessible on their website.

Old York is a vital part of the York, Maine community. The organization maintains 18 buildings and 20 properties including the 17-acre Steedman Woods; has 2 full-time and 25 part-time employees; more than 20,000 artifacts and 50,000 archival and library materials; and serves thousands of people year-round through tours, educational programs, exhibits, and special events. For more information please visit oldyork.org. The Old York Historical Society is a 509(a)(1) charity that exists for public benefit. It was formed in 1984 through the consolidation of three local organizations, including the Old Gaol Museum founded in 1900.


York Public Library is located in the center of historic York Village. The library provides free access to a collection of more than 50,000+ books, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks, and DVDs for all ages and 9 million more through the Minerva and MaineCat networks. By way of Maine Infonet and the Maine State Library, YPL also offers free access to research databases and hundreds of thousands of e-books and downloadable audiobooks. YPL hosts over 300 programs annually and welcomes more than 60,000 visitors each year. York Public Library is owned and operated by the York Public Library Association, a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded in 1922.