An Abundance of Scrapbooks

By Nancy Noble, Archivist/Cataloger

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I love scrapbooks. Even though they can be problematic, they have much to recommend them. They can be charming and quirky – the whimsical selections reflect the tastes of the compiler. They can be informative – documenting a movement or organization. And they can be indicative of how people created, collected, and presented information many years ago, in the days before the digital tools we have at our fingertips existed.

So, it wasn’t much of a hardship to make it a summer project to pluck over 100 scrapbooks out of backlog, where some have been languishing for at least 50 years, waiting to see the light of day. (Mostly I was weary of shifting them around and in desperate need of space).

109 scrapbooks later, I want to share with you my favorites, as well as some observations about them.

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They typically contain newspaper clippings, but some include programs, correspondence, and photographs. Many focus on a theme, such as the hurricane of 1938 (Scrapbook 17), tuberculosis (Scrapbooks 45 and 84), and World War II. The war scrapbooks focus on scrap salvage efforts (Scrapbook 7), and men and women from the Belfast area who served in the military (Scrapbooks 50, 57, and 58). Two of my favorites are about the Emerson Mason School of the Dance (Scrapbook 122) and the Dorothy Mason School of the Dance (Scrapbook 123). The Emerson-Mason School of the Dance was located at 73 Oak Street in Portland, and run by Janet Emerson and Dorothy Mason. It was later known as the Dorothy Mason School of the Dance. Dorothy Mason (Mrs. John Wesley Craig) operated her school for 45 years.

I enjoyed cataloging the scrapbooks compiled by William E. Sutherland, the longtime chief engineer on the Oakey L. Alexander. He compiled a scrapbook about the wreck of that freighter, which shipwrecked off of Cape Elizabeth in 1947 (Scrapbook 52, as well as other scrapbooks on maritime history (Scrapbooks 44 and 83).

Several organization have scrapbooks represented: the Portland Port Commission (Scrapbooks 1-5), the Maine Federation of Music Clubs Choir Festivals (Scrapbooks 16, 63, and 64), Daughters of the American Revolution Maine (Scrapbook 54), and a large collection of 18 scrapbooks kept by the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Maine (Scrapbooks 80, 100-116).

The Hospitality Committee of the Portland Chamber of Commerce (1928-1943) includes a photograph of waitresses at the Cabaret D’Art in 1930, as well as photographs pasted into the scrapbook of a picnic on Peaks Island in1933 (Scrapbook 85).

Some revolve around people, such as a scrapbook compiled by Philip Greely Clifford about his father William Henry Clifford, a lawyer who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1886 (Scrapbook 47). Scrapbook 125 features Clyde H. Smith and his wife Margaret Chase Smith, including clippings regarding the death of Clyde, and the subsequent succession of Margaret, who assumed his office in the United States House of Representatives. And then there is one about Carrie Kidwell Steward of West Virginia, a vocalist and pianist who performed in Skowhegan and Portland in 1900. The scrapbook (Scrapbook 60) includes concert programs, clippings, personal correspondence, a February 3, 1891 invitation to the White House, a wedding announcement for Carrie to Mr. Philo Steward (January 9, 1895), and several small portraits.

There are also interesting scrapbooks having to do with government entities such as post offices and police departments. Scrapbook 17 contains clippings regarding the post office in Portland from about 1927-1952, the gem of which is a typescript memo and related article from 1927 regarding postal employees learning how to shoot pistols. Interspersed are wedding and obituary notices, many of which concern post office employees. Scrapbook 88 has newspaper clippings mostly related to news about the Portland Police Department in the 1920s-1930s, including promotions, deaths, retirements, and crimes and arrests.

Scrapbooks can contain newspaper columns or series. There are six compiled by George Curtis Wing consisting of his column, “From the sidelines,” published in the Lewiston Sun (Scrapbooks 10-15). George C. Wing Jr. was born and raised in Auburn. He was a politician, lawyer, served on the Maine House of Representatives from 1921-1922, and served as mayor of Auburn from 1934-1935. Earle G. Shettleworth, Maine’s State Historian and the Director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, wrote a series of articles, mainly from 1965-1967 (with some articles as late as 1978), entitled “Portland’s Heritage,” which ran in the Portland Evening Express (Scrapbook 42).

Elizabeth E. Fox is the queen of the scrapbook compilers, having assembled 20 related to Maine history, especially Portland and Westbrook history (Scrapbooks 19-36, 72). Edward C. Clarey’s passion was for the Robinhood and Georgetown area (Scrapbooks 65-68) – he was born in 1876 in Georgetown where he spent more of this life, working on his farm. He compiled many of these in the 1950s, shortly before his death in Bath in 1960. Harry S. Boyd was interested in Portland history, and compiled 6 scrapbooks related to that (Scrapbooks 37-41). Boyd (1878-1868) wrote A History of Portland Banks in 1895, and worked as a bank cashier or treasurer for most of his life.

Whether about specific topics or organizations, or general history of a time or place, scrapbooks offer a fascinating look into an era, of what was important or of interest to folks in Maine. Scrapbooking continues to be popular today, although in a different format, oftentimes digital.

To view all our scrapbooks in our catalog, click here.

 

“Your Maine Home” Essay Contest Winner – 3rd place

3rdWe are pleased to present below the 3rd place winner of our 2014 “Your Maine Home” essay contest. This year we asked to hear about defining moments in the history of your Maine home or neighborhood. The contest ran in the summer and the winners were announced in the fall print newsletter, which was mailed to MHS members last week. You can see the first and second place winners on this blog. Congratulations to the winners, and many thanks to all the entrants. We received many wonderful stories.


 

Log Drives on the Kennebec

By Alice True Larkin

Annual River Drive, Guilford, ca. 1940. Item # 30974 on Maine Memory Network. Image courtesy of the Guilford Historical Society

Annual River Drive, Guilford, ca. 1940. Item # 30974 on Maine Memory Network. Image courtesy of the Guilford Historical Society

 

Every spring when I was growing up in Skowhegan, logs cut in the north woods were floated down the Kennebec River to the paper mills. Cut to four-foot lengths, with the company’s brand on the end, they erupted through the sluiceway at the Central Maine Power Co. dam, raced down a deep gorge to the Big Eddy, where they bucked and tossed in the rapids, then spread out to blanket the river from bank to bank. My friend and I, sitting on her porch at the river’s edge, would spend hours watching the logs float down the river, sometimes picking our favorites and racing them. When they backed up in Wesserunsett Stream to our swimming hole, we would each grab a log, straddle it and ride it like a bucking broncho.

I lived not far from the Eddy and about a half mile further down was the river-driver’s camp, a sturdy orange building with a sheet-iron roof. In the winter, with other neighborhood children, I slid down the roof into a snowbank. Then we crawled up through the foundation to play in the bateaux stored there, scrambled in and out of the narrow bunks with their stained mattresses, and poked around in the tiny kitchen. When the drive came through, we hid in the bushes to watch the men, sun-browned, muscular fellows in plaid flannel shirts, who chanted woods ditties as they brought in supplies or pulled the clumsy boats down to the river.

In 1775, Colonel Benedict Arnold made his tortuous way up the Kennebec on his march to Quebec, using the same bateaux, although his were hastily constructed, of green wood, which caused untold problems and greatly impeded the expedition. These bateaux are sturdy, double-ended, and propelled by pushing long poles against the river bottom. The river drivers scour the river’s edge for logs that have stranded on the banking, and coax them out into the river again with pick poles. Nimble fellows, they skip over the massed logs to break up a jam or, just for fun, spin one under their cleated boots in log-birling competitions.

The last log drive on the Kennebec took place in 1976, after companies found it cheaper to move the logs by truck, and environmentalists complained that sunken logs polluted the river and killed the fish. Now the Kennebec runs clear and free, the fish have returned and white-water rafting has become a new industry. But for those of us who remember, there remains a nostalgia for the old days when logs filled the Kennebec every spring and river drivers were our heroes.

“Your Maine Home” Essay Contest Winner – 2nd place

2ndWe are pleased to present below the 2nd place winner of our 2014 “Your Maine Home” essay contest. This year we asked to hear about defining moments in the history of your Maine home or neighborhood. The contest ran in the summer and the winners were announced in the fall print newsletter, which was mailed to MHS members last week. The 3rd place winner will appear on this blog on Wednesday, September 10–so come back soon! Congratulations to the winners, and many thanks to all the entrants. We received many wonderful stories.


 

Foster’s Place

By Karyn Lie-Nielsen

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I love coming home to the spicy fragrance of late lilacs floating in the June air. I think of Foster Jameson, former owner of this property back in 1930, returning from an infrequent summer outing. The air carried the rural tang of chickens. Prize-winning chickens, to be precise, for Foster Jameson was the proprietor of The Jameson Poultry Farm in Waldoboro, Maine, one of the “best-equipped Barred Rock farms in the entire country,” according to his 1936 brochure. I have a hunch that smell was as welcoming for him as my flowers are to me, because Foster Jameson aspired to breeding top-ranking egg-layers in the peak of health.

Foster Jameson opened his poultry farm in 1920. My husband and I bought the twenty-acre property eight decades later, in 2000. All that remains of his endeavors is one long poultry barn and one small, but substantial outbuilding that still houses two huge electric incubators. They fill the space, standing over six feet tall, and leave just enough room to walk around them. Each is made of wood (not a single piece of plastic in sight) and is equipped with automatic humidifiers, “important in producing quality chicks,” as the vintage brochure assures us.

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Photographs taken during Foster Jameson’s tenure show the field dotted with small hen houses, structures with salt-box roofs. Foster (as we fondly call him) attended the University of Maine, studying animal husbandry. Breeding vigorous strains of chickens was his specialty. His ambition, perhaps his most fervent dream, was to run a prize-winning hatchery, building up breeds that topped the charts in egg production.

The house where we live, that Foster Jameson and his family lived in as well, was built a century before Foster himself was born. But my husband and I have not yet discovered the name of the original owner. So far, we never felt motivated to research further. Foster Jameson, a model of industry, has been enough of a guiding light for us. After all, we have his photographs and brochures, where he appears wearing a necktie as he holds a plump chicken in his arms. We have his notes penciled on the old incubators. His business survived the Great Depression and World War II. He was able to provide a good living for his family, evidenced by photographs of the white-painted house and neat lawn, a child smiling in the farmyard.

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Everything we know about Foster Jameson deeply compels us to be good stewards of his land. We mention his name with honor, he is the respected godfather of the property.

Nowadays, when haymakers come in June, hurrying modern equipment back and forth over the grassy field where the breeding houses once stood, I imagine Foster watching with me. I’m certain that he would approve of keeping the field open and clean.

And when I planted that row of lilacs, I thought Foster might appreciate how the blossoms tender my thoughts of him, and gently ease the border between past and present.

“Your Maine Home” Essay Contest Winner – 1st place

1stplace

We are pleased to present below the first place winner of our 2014 “Your Maine Home” essay contest. This year we asked to hear about defining moments in the history of your Maine home or neighborhood. The contest ran in the summer and the winners were announced in the fall print newsletter, which was mailed to MHS members last week. The second and third place winners will appear on this blog on Tuesday, September 9 and Wednesday, September 10–so come back soon! Congratulations to the winners, and many thanks to all the entrants. We received many wonderful stories.


Pine View Farm

By Barbara A. Desmarais

 

Pine View Farm once sat upon a gentle knoll in the New Meadows section of Brunswick.

Pine View Farm once sat upon a gentle knoll in the New Meadows section of Brunswick.

 

Pine View Farm in the New Meadows section of Brunswick had been in my family since the late 1700s.

My mother and her seven siblings often reminisced about visiting and working at the 78-acre homestead. They remembered their grandmother, Mary, as a hard-working woman who rarely smiled. Aunt Grace was cheerful and musical, playing organ both at home and at church. Uncle Charlie, they all agreed, was dour and quiet, most comfortable when caring for his beloved dairy cows. The children were never allowed in Charlie’s domain – the cow barn. They remembered pumping water from the well and using a two-holer outhouse, too.

The farm abutted the thousand-acre Town Commons, which encompassed a managed white pine and red oak forest, as well as a blueberry barren planted on the sandy plain. Grampa’s own father had helped plant the white pines that gave their farm its name. In 1930, the town voted to establish the Brunswick Municipal Airport, replacing the sandy plain with aeroplanes.

During World War Two the Town Commons, which had belonged to the citizens of Brunswick since 1719, became the Naval Air Station Brunswick. Aunt Grace saw opportunity in the sudden stream of people traveling past the farm. She baked breads and fruit pies in the wood cook-stove, churned butter and ice cream by hand with milk fresh from the cow, then sold them all at her farm stand just outside the back gate of the Navy base.

In 1956 and ’57, the Federal government bought up the farms surrounding the base, including the roads that had connected New Meadows to parts of Brunswick and Harpswell. The family sold Pine View Farm and it was scheduled to be demolished. My family always ended their round of remembrances by recalling that Uncle Charlie neglected to tell Grampa the exact date when the farmhouse was to be burned to the ground, so Grampa never had the opportunity to gather up the family papers. Generations of documents went up in flame because, the family said, Charlie didn’t care about the family records. My family’s only relics are Mary’s 1888 wedding quilt sewn and signed by the women of New Meadows, Aunt Grace’s 1890s bisque doll, the 1908 46-star American flag that once flew at Pine View Farm, and the 1918 china pitcher used to serve fresh milk to eight rambunctious nieces and nephews.

Today an empty field is all that is left of the farm.

Today an empty field is all that is left of the farm.

And so, one building after another was demolished, effectively erasing not just Pine View Farm, but the very fabric of New Meadows where generations of neighbors had lived, loved and married, where they had worked and worshipped. My own family and all of New Meadows had lost a vital connection to our past. The base closed in 2011. The community has regained access to some of the natural areas, but an empty munitions bunker still stands in place of our homestead.

The families' surviving relics were a 1888 wedding quilt sewn, a 1890s bisque doll, the 1908 46-star American flag that once flew at Pine View Farm, and a 1918 china pitcher.

The families’ surviving relics were a 1888 wedding quilt sewn, a 1890s bisque doll, the 1908 46-star American flag that once flew at Pine View Farm, and a 1918 china pitcher.

Brunswick, Maine

Volunteer Appreciation Picnic

On Wednesday, August 20, 2014, we at Maine Historical Society hosted our annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnic. We honored our volunteers who spend countless hours helping us operate–by processing library collections, transcribing letters, mailing membership packets, leading House and walking tours, maintaining the garden, and many other invaluable activities.

To our volunteers past and present: Thank you! We cannot do what we do without you.

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2014 Junior Docent Camp a Success!

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On the morning of August 8, 2014, visitors to the Wadsworth-Longfellow House arrived to participate in an activity that most people have come to expect from historic house museums: an informative tour led by a well-trained, enthusiastic docent. What they probably were not expecting, however, was that the docent would be in the fourth grade.

Graduates of Maine Historical Society’s Second Annual Junior Docent Camp were stationed in the different rooms of the house that morning, greeted each guest with a smile, and eagerly shared what they had learned over the course of one week about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, his poetry, and his childhood in Portland.

The eight Junior Docents (all 9 and 10 year-olds) spent the four days prior to their open house preparing to become tour guides and learning about life in the 19th century. They learned the stories of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, took basement-to-attic tours, and learned how historians use artifacts and primary source documents by seeing and handling (with white gloves, of course) MHS collection material.

During their week at camp, the Junior Docents also had the chance to try their hands at 19th century crafts, chores, and games: they made butter, created self-portrait silhouettes, dipped candles, and perfected their athletic techniques in “games of graces.” It was a fun-filled week of trying new things and meeting new people that left every Junior Docent who participated excited to come back next year and build upon their experiences!

 

For inquiries about the 2015 Junior Docent Camp, contact Kathleen Neumann at 207-774-1822 ext. 214, or kneumann@mainehistory.org.

“Where Hostilities Are Now In Progress”: Documents from the MHS WW1 Collection

By Pamela Ruth Outwin, MLIS, Brown Library Intern

 

By the first week of August of 1914, nearly all of continental Europe was embroiled in war. Russia and France had entered the conflict at the same time, with Russia crossing the border into Germany on August 1. Germany crossed into Luxembourg the next day in preparation for invading France, while Belgium desperately attempted to maintain its neutrality. Their resolution did not last long; within two days, Germany had declared war on Belgium as well, in order to secure their route into France. By August 7 the British military had been mobilized, and the first of the British Expeditionary Forces had landed on French soil.

European Map “Where Hostilities Are Now In Progress” ca. 1914

European Map “Where Hostilities Are Now In Progress” ca. 1914

Throughout June and July, King George V of England was in constant contact with his fellow sovereigns and leaders across Europe, searching for a way to keep his country out of the conflict. The last of the major European countries to join the fight, Britain had tried to act as a mediator between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and their closest neighbors in Continental Europe. However, once the threat of violence and the reality of formal war crept towards the borders of Britain, the country was swift to join the action. Word of mouth was not sufficient for instructing the population as to why they had joined a greater conflict, especially with a large amount of pro-German propaganda being printed and distributed on a regular basis. As such, both the British Government and private individuals took advantage of the vast printing and publishing resources available to them to produce material that was used not only by British citizens throughout the course of the war, but sent to the United States in an effort to sway public opinion.

“Great Britain’s Reasons For Going To War.” Sir Gilbert, box 1.

“Great Britain’s Reasons For Going To War.” Sir Gilbert, box 1.

Britain’s entry into the war was not confined to the citizens of the British Isles; the entire Empire came with them. Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand, and all the other protectorates were encouraged to send men, munitions, and any materials they could spare as soon as possible. Australia and Canada, in particular, would have a great deal of influence on the progress of the war, particularly in Turkey and France. Astoundingly, many of the nations of Europe were enthusiastic about entering into combat, certain of their own country’s victory. Most though the war would be over in a matter of months, likely by Christmas or the New Year. That it would continue much longer, and claim many more lives than originally thought, would come as a terrible shock to all involved.

“Young Lions” Postcard, ca. 1914

“Young Lions” Postcard, ca. 1914

The Maine Historical Society’s Brown Research Library is currently in the process of preparing this collection of First World War documents for research, in time for the commemoration of the United States’ entry into the conflict. The collection materials cover the entire span of World War I, from works published at the very beginning that call it “The War of 1914” to documents produced at the end of the conflict that discuss the rebuilding of a devastated Europe.

 

This is the second article in a series about this collection. The first article can be found here: Assassinations and Entanglements: Documents from the MHS First World War Collection.

 

NOTE: This collection is not yet available for research. For further information contact Jamie Kingman Rice, Director of Library Services at jrice@mainehistory.org.