Notes from the Archives: Newspapers Galore!

by Nancy Noble, Archivist/Cataloger

I recently processed a pile of newspapers, mostly donated by Maine State Historian Earle Shettleworth. Although I don’t usually allow myself the time or luxury of really absorbing all the information in the newspapers, I do enjoy the random illustrations and advertisements (sometimes for patent medicine) that I come across.

However, sometimes the headlines do jump out at me. Issues of the Boston Post and Portland Evening Express, for example, announced various moments in the abdication of Britain’s King Edward VIII in 1936: “COULD NOT RULE WITHOUT WALLY DECLARES EDWARD” and “George Becomes Ruler of Britain; Edward Leaves Country Tonight.”

And, while looking at the June 26, 1903, edition of the Bangor Weekly Commercial, I noted these intriguing headlines:

  • The new king in Belgrade: Peter the First entered his kingdom early Wednesday
  • Found a body in the woods: remains of an unknown man discovered near Patten
  • The Pope at a consistory
  • U.S. Squadron arrives at Kiel
  • Officer held; girl escaped: Calais had rather an exciting episode Tuesday evening
  • Ireland is not England’s fief
  • Labrador will be explored: Col. Glazier, with a party of six, to go on the expedition
  • Peary’s work not yet done: Maine arctic explorer is talking of going north again

As you can see, it’s often a blending of international, national, and local news.

I also cataloged the first issue of The Old Orchard Transcript (Nov. 2, 1923) which included these headlines:

  • Four new amusement devices are to be constructed on pier lot
  • Old Orchard water service much improved
  • C.W. Usen building great fireproof structure on West Grand Avenue: Monster dance hall feature of block made of steel concrete and brick

Newspapers can be cumbersome to house, catalog, and access, but they are invaluable in gaining a window into a particular place and time. Even the smallest of towns had a newspaper, such as:

  • The Bucksport Hen
  • The Orb (China, Me.)
  • The Lilliputian (Wiscasset)
  • The Phillips Phonograph
  • Prosperity (East Sumner)
  • Squirrel Island Squid

And now, it’s time to catalog a collection of newspapers related to John Neal, Portland’s author and literary critic of the 19th century , which is also a gift of Earle Shettleworth. Stay tuned!

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