KENNEBUNK — One of the many treasures at the Kennebunk Free Library is an 11-volume set of diaries written by Andrew Walker, a prominent 19th century figure in Kennebunk.  

Walker‘s daily entries record a wide range of events and interests including weather, politics, religion,
poetry, social events and customs, local history, trade, and various other topics. His entries cover town events from Kennebunk and surrounding areas, as well as state and nationwide events and issues.

Spanning over 46 years, from 1851-1897, the diaries offer a fascinating account of 19th century life in the Kennebunks area. Previously only available for viewing in person at the library, access to these treasures has now been made available to all via a digitization project undertaken by Kennebunk Free Library staff in partnership with the Maine State Library.

Using a high-resolution document scanner at the Maine State Library, each volume of the diary was scanned into a digital document and uploaded to the state’s digital repository, Digital Maine.

Digitization of the Walker Diaries allows researchers and interested parties to download and view the documents from anywhere with an internet connection. In addition to expanded access, digitization
allows the original volumes to be handled less frequently, helping to preserve them for future generations.

Over the years, the Kennebunk Free Library has attempted to index the content of the diaries. A handwritten topical index was originally made using a box of index cards.

In 1994, the library had a computerized index created which, including cross-referenced terms,
contains about 5,900 subject and name entries. During the digitization project, optical character recognition (OCR) scanning was applied to this index, which allows the digitized document to be
searched by keyword.

The searchable index serves as a time-saver for researchers who can now find specific topical entries throughout the 11-diary volumes, rather than needing to page through each in hopes of coming across a specific subject.

The digitized index is included in the DigitalMaine repository along with the diaries.

The Kennebunk Free Library and the Maine State Library are pleased to make these resources available to not only Kennebunk and Maine residents, but to all around the globe.  

The digitized documents may be accessed at Digital Maine