by Nancy Noble, MHS archivist/cataloger
Maine Historical Society owns all shapes and sizes of manuscripts. Some collections are quite large, such as the recently processed Central Maine Power collection (188 linear ft.) and some quite small, which we call “S-Coll.” or small collections. These can be one item, such as a single letter or diary or document. But we also have bound volumes, which can include scrapbooks, photograph albums, and account books.
Here are a few recently processed and catalogued bound volumes:
Coll. 2613. Margaret Deering Gilman’s leather bound photograph album, ca. 1890, of the Deering Mansion and grounds, in Portland. The black and white photographs in the album show mostly the exterior of this mansion, once located near Deering Oaks Park, but also some interior photographs.
Coll. 2614. This record book, ca. 1860-1871, for the Home Insurance Company (out of New York), documents buildings and owners in the Gardiner area.
Coll. 2615. This scrapbook and herbarium (images below), ca. 1855-1859, was kept by Oscar F. Dana of Falmouth, chief of the Law Division of the Internal Revenue Service. On the spine: Vedi Napoli e poi mori, which means “See Naples and die.” The book contains newspaper clippings of a column by Dana entitled “Sketches of European Travels” written from Rome; the first one is dated March 1855. A tipped in manuscript page gives more clues: “The sketches in this book were made by Paul Akers, father’s traveling companion in Europe.” Paul Akers was a well-known Maine sculptor. Of special interest are the botanical specimens attached into the book, as well as manuscript poems and photographs.
Coll. 2616. This scrapbook, collected by George Doane Rand, contains various articles and engravings from ca. 1874-1883. It includes bookplates of George Doane Rand and F. M. O’Brien, a Portland bookseller who must have owned the scrapbook after Rand did. Penciled in the front of the scrapbook in O’Brien’s handwriting: “From ‘Brentwood’ Wm. Widgery Thomas’s house at Yarmouth, March 23, 1979, F.M. O’Brien, Thomas bought some of Rand’s books at the auction in 1930s.”
Coll. 2617. William Saunders, a fireman and engineer for the Sandy River Railroad, Maine Central Railroad, Washington County Railroad, and Grand Trunk Railroad, from 1882 to 1922, compiled this scrapbook, which was one of many (although the only one we have). It is pasted into an old hotel register. On the cover he writes: “Historical. Also pictures. Prose. Poetry. All R.R. Stuff. Book started Jan. 24, 1937. Finished Sept. 2, 1937. Warren W. Saunders.” His comments within are humorous and indicate he is growing weary of the process.
Coll. 2618. Sewell Moody’s account book, ca. 1801-1848, includes items such as sheep, chain, shoes, etc., but not an indication of what the business was or where it was located. It also appears to be a copy book for another Sewell Moody, born in 1803 (possibly his son?), who uses the book to practice writing his name, another example of one book having several purposes.
Coll. 2619. This Somerset County account book for an unnamed store offers day by day accounts of an unidentified merchant of dry goods — a quart jug, six yards of India Cotton, 1 Almanac, a spelling book, coffee, skins, tobacco, etc. Entries include date, customer’s name, and price. Payment is usually in cash, but occasional listings indicate acceptance of wheat, potatoes, butter, “Hogs Lard,” and other goods. Customers include Rev. Joseph Palmer, Capt. Asa Wyman, and others.
Coll. 2620. Helen Small compiled this scrapbook titled “State of Maine clippings: people – places – events, compiled 1960.” This is a typical style scrapbook found in MHS collections – random newspaper clippings about Maine, or whatever strikes the fancy of the compiler.
Coll. 2621. Wilder & Puffer account book, 1894. Unfortunately this is also typical of account books; we have no clue as to what this firm was or where they were located.
So, you can see the variety of bound volumes found in the collections, from account books to scrapbooks to photograph albums, of varying size, date, information, and value of the information.