The Freedom Historical Society will receive a $480 grant, according to a press release from the Maine State Archives, to preserve and provide better access to its historical collections. The funding is part of the Historical Records Collections Grant Program, administered by the Maine Historical Records Advisory Board, with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The grant program is coordinated in Maine by the state archives.

Recent studies underscore that cultural resources are important in decisions to locate businesses or choose a community in which to retire. These grants help 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 Maine State Archivist David Cheever in the press 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 Main 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 programs such as this one to preserve our heritage," Cheever said.

Small grants have stimulated local citizens nad 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 or email janet.roberts@maine.gov or visit www.maine.gov/sos/arc/mhrab/grants.html.