Happy New Year! Can we just take a minute and say Thanks?! 2014 was an incredible year for MHS, much due to all the wonderful people who visited us for public programs, listened to our podcasts, became members, researched in our library, contributed to our collections, and engaged with us in person (throughout the state) and online.
We love creating programs and exhibitions for our diverse audiences (in Maine and around the world) and hope that if you haven’t had a chance to join the MHS community, 2015 will be your year to do it. Drop us a line if there’s something of particular interest that you’d like to see us doing in the new year–we welcome your feedback!
We’ve created 7 ways to look back on all that you’ve helped us accomplish in 2014–check out these posts compiled by our staff:
Our Institutional Advancement staff (these are the folks responsible for securing grants, managing memberships, donor relations, communication and PR, social media, design, audience development, our newsletter, and events) reflected on 2014, and noted how many new opportunities Maine Historical Society seized this year.
From a big twist on our annual fundraising gala, to bringing a U.S. President’s granddaughter to MHS, the Advancement staff worked creatively to bring donors and new audiences together to further the mission of the organization. In November we welcomed Malorie Pastor to the team in a new position of Communications Manager.
Our annual fundraising event took a different spin this year with nearly 200 guests attending the 1920s-themed soiree, An Evening in the 1920s. This year’s event was held at the historic Portland Masonic Temple, and was a great success raising more than $45,000 to support our education programs. Guests donned ’20s attire and enjoyed cocktails, a silent and live auction, a photo booth, a historical exhibition, dinner, and dancing to the music of The Fogcutters, a 21-piece band! View event photos here.
Members of our 1822 Founders Council gathered at MHS on February 12 for a reception and presentation of personal highlights from the collections, chosen by select staff and friends. This annual event, “Our Favorite Things,” showcased the recently acquired Maine Charitable Mechanic Association banner, “Our Life is One of Lights & Shadows,” from 1841, among other fantastic pieces. The 1822 Founders Council also enjoyed a summer party, hosted by MHS Board of Trustees member Kathy Smith and her husband Sam. The number of 1822 Founders Council members has been growing each year with the increase of donors who contribute $1,000 or more to our Annual Fund.
The fall brought two unique events to MHS. A Special Evening with Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was a magical evening with Anne Roosevelt, Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt’s granddaughter, and Executive Director of Goodwill of Northern New England. Anne shared personal anecdotes about growing up in this iconic American family. She reflected upon how these experiences, and the values family instilled in her, shaped her own personal and professional life.
In September, MHS honored Vincent Veroneau as our 2014 Maine History Maker. President of J.B. Brown in Portland, Vincent has shown exemplary vision and leadership in the community, and was instrumental in the partnership between our organization and the Portland Public Library’s joint purchase of an off-site storage facility on Riverside Drive in Portland. Check out the Brown Library’s 2014: It’s All History Now blog post for more on our new Shared Collections Management Center!
192nd Annual Meeting
Maine Historical Society members got their first look at our new Shared Collections Management Center at our 192nd Annual Meeting in June. The Center was nearly complete, but not yet filled with collections, and the “work in progress” was a fitting place to celebrate the Society’s transformation over the past year. MHS members elected John Doughty, Jon Jennings, Tyler Judkins, Thomas Noyes, Eileen Skinner, Andy Verzosa to their first terms as members of the Board of Trustees.
Our Executive Director Steve Bromage announced the recipients of our awards this year:
The James Phinney Baxter Award to Timothy F. Garrity
The Elizabeth Ring Service Award to Donna Knoblock and Linell Slaktowicz.
The Neal W. Allen, Jr. History Award to Larry Glatz.
The Trustee Recognition Award to Carolyn B. Murray.
After a brief reminiscence about his first Annual Meeting in 1963 at the age of 14, State Historian Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. delivered an entertaining talk about the Congress Street corridor, illustrated with a collection late 19th century photographs by Phillip Greely Brown.
In the afternoon, members enjoyed a picnic lunch, tours of the Shared Collections Management Center, and an opportunity to visit our new neighbors on Riverside Street: some took a tour of Allagash Brewery, and others joined a guided walk through the historic Riverton Trolley Park.
Membership: Better Than Ever
Earlier this year we proudly announced new and improved membership benefits. MHS members have access to some new incentives, including free or discounted admission to programs, guest passes to visit our exhibitions and the Wadsworth-Longfellow House with a Contributor level membership or higher, and discounts on space rental for Supporter level members. Read all about the full range of benefits in this blog post.
Being a member is about so much more than perks. Gifts of membership help preserve Maine history and sustain the teams of librarians, curators, and educators who dedicate themselves to bring Maine history to life, and to make it meaningful, relevant, and accessible.
Support from our community has never been so important and we are delighted to extend greater membership benefits to express our thanks to the people who make it all possible. On this last day of 2014 we are proud to have 2,343 members! Make joining as a MHS Member your New Year’s resolution—sign up now!
Visitors to MHS and the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and Garden eagerly “checked-in” online and tagged us in their photos, posts, and reviews. Speaking of reviews, we received some awesome feedback from folks in 2014 on sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor (where the House is ranked #11 of 52 attractions in Portland).
“Very cool museum. The price was right and it was a perfect stop over for some culture while in Portland. We arrived about 45 minutes before closing and had plenty of time to stare at old artifacts (like a jar for tooth powder…awesome) and read all the boards of historical information. They did a great job emphasizing the importance of local history and highlighting how it’s relevant today. Very glad that we popped in and more people should check it out.”
– Schlosky, Milford, CT via Yelp
“Nice casual tour of Longfellow’s boyhood home. Interesting and up-close unlike other historical home tours. Very personal feel. Came with my kids 12, 10 & 4 and it held the interest of the older ones no problem (the younger one simply enjoyed the free fan she was given).”
– Kareika, San Diego, CA via TripAdvisor
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.
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.
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.
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.