2014: It’s All History Now

Thanks from MHSHappy 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:

Part 1: Digital Engagement & Maine Memory Network

Part 2: Education 

Part 3: Brown Research Library & Collections

Part 4: Wadsworth-Longfellow House & Garden

Part 5: Institutional Advancement

Part 6: Gallery & Exhibitions

Part 7: Public Programs

We can’t wait to make history with you in 2015!

Public Programs

2014: It’s All History Now (Part 7 of 7)

We kicked off 2014 with a number of programs relating to themes of the Civil War and food–both were presented in our exhibitions, but our year was peppered with lectures, presentations, First Friday Art Walks, tastings, sailing trips, baseball games, book launches, haunted houses, summer camp, and so much more…too much, in fact, to fit into this blog recap. Still, we’d like to reflect upon some of our public program highlights from 2014.

Foodie Fever

Kate McCarty
Kate McCarty

Food-related programs drew big crowds this year, thanks in part to Portland’s burgeoning status as a “foodie city” and our rich historical collections related to Maine food and restaurants. In conjunction with an exhibition on menus from our collections in February and March, Gary Libby gave a presentation on this history of Portland’s Chinese restaurants, and food historian and author Sandy Oliver came to talk about Maine restaurant fare. In July, Kate McCarty gave a talk based on her book, Portland Food: The Culinary Capital of Maine. Visit our podcast page to find links to these talks.

From Lost on a Mountain in Maine: Donn Fendler Comes to MHS

Donn Fendler, Lost on a Mountain in Maine

On August 16, Donn Fendler visited MHS and spoke to a packed house about his experience in 1939, being 12 years old and lost on Mount Katahdin for nine days. His story was turned into the classic book Lost on a Mountain in Maine, and many guests brought their copies for Donn to sign.

He was joined by filmmaker Ryan Cook who shared film clips from his documentary as well as a “first look” for the feature film he plans to make that will share Donn’s story with the world. This 75th anniversary event was co-sponsored by the Pine Tree Council’s Boy Scouts of America.

Watch this compilation of video clips and photos from this event.

July 4th Public Reading & Display of the Declaration of Independence

905833_10153168891699237_4591934293535682606_o HerbAdamsJuly4

More than 125 people listened to and reflected upon the words of our country’s founders during our annual reading of the Declaration of Independence by former State Rep. Herb Adams on the front lawn of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Many visitors had the chance to view our rare Dunlap broadside of the Declaration, which we displayed in our gallery that week. Photos from the event are on our Facebook page, and you can watch video clips from local TV stations WCSH and WMTW.

Celebrate the Season with MHS

Scrooge SelfiesThis holiday season, we invited visitors to explore the friendship between the man who is said to have “invented America” and the man who is said to have “invented Christmas”–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Charles Dickens. Guests toured the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and learned about both men, Dickens’s visit to Portland, Christmas traditions of the Longfellow family, and the enduring effects of A Christmas Carol.

An Evening with Longfellow & DickensFrom Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, our festively decorated campus was abuzz with holiday programs including the MHS Members holiday party, special tours of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House (where Scrooge selfies were taken), music in the house by pianist David Maxwell, blacksmith demonstrations by Sam Smith, a holiday shopper’s bazaar, and special programming during the December Art Walk and Portland Tree Lighting. To top it all off, we had a very special performance, An Evening with Longfellow and Dickens, by Portland Stage actors Daniel Noel and Andrew Harris who played the parts of the two men and brought their friendship to life in this sold-out event.

Other Notable Programs:

baseballThis summer we hosted our third annual Vintage Baseball Game which featured the Dirigo Base Ball Club, the Essex Base Ball Organization, and the Presumpscot Base Ball Club. The teams played at the SMCC Athletic Fields in South Portland, and kids participated in a baseball clinic run by visiting players. This free event was co-sponsored by Cape Elizabeth Historical Preservation Society, Scarborough Historical Society, and South Portland Historical Society.

394In 2013 we started a new Student Spotlight lecture series which was made increasingly popular this year. Talks showcase new research from undergraduates and graduates at Maine colleges and universities. This year, we heard about 19th century cookbooks and domestic manuals, and the 1970s environmental clean-up of the Androscoggin River. Stay tuned for Student Spotlight talks in 2015!

michaudCivil War programming related to the ongoing sesquicentennial was hugely popular in 2014. In March, we held an informative and powerful panel presentation, Veterans Issues: From the Civil War to Today, moderated by former U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud. Other panelists included Amy Marcotte, Sanford Vet Center Team Leader; Ryan Lilly, Director, VA Maine Healthcare System; and Donald Beattie, Togus historian (pictured together here). In May, Chandra Manning, Associate Professor of History at Georgetown University, presented her talk African Americans & the U.S. Government During and After the Civil War to a receptive and engaged crowd. Our annual Olmsted Lecture was also dedicated to the Civil War with the presentation, Sanitary Concerns: Portlander Harriet Eaton, State Relief Work, and the Fight over Federal Benevolence during the Civil War, by Jane Schultz, Professor of English and the Medical Humanities, and Director of Literature, at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis. (You can hear the latter two talks as podcasts).

LincolnIn November, as part of the opening reception for the traveling exhibition Lincoln: The Constitution and The Civil War, historian Jared Peatman attracted a packed-house with his talk Free and Responsible Government: The Long Shadow of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Two additional programs relating to this exhibition topic were Maine in the Civil War with speaker and MHS Trustee Lee Webb, and Portland’s Irish in the Civil War with speaker Matthew Jude Barker.

Historical Atlas of MaineIn early December, we hosted a book launch of the highly-anticipated publication Historical Atlas of Maine (currently sold-out but check back later this winter), co-hosted with the University of Maine. Dick Judd joined us for his presentation Reflections on Editing the Historical Atlas of Maine: A Scholarly Epic with speaker Dick Judd. After 15 years of extensive research, the Historical Atlas of Maine presents in cartographic form–maps, paintings, graphs, and text–the historical geography of Maine from the end of the last ice age to the year 2000. Organized in four chronological sections, the Atlas tells the principal stories of the many people who have lived in Maine over the past 13,000 years.

Can’t Make it to MHS? Listen to our Podcasts!

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 4.06.40 PMWe are pleased to announce that many MHS lectures and book talks dating back to early 2012 are now available as podcasts on our website and on iTunes! For those of you who can’t attend our programs in person can still access the diverse content. Just click on the arrow on the horizontal bar beneath the program description (when navigating from our website).

Read More about MHS in 2014:

Wadsworth-Longfellow House & Garden

2014: It’s All History Now (Part 4 of 7)

house roomsThe Wadsworth-Longfellow House stayed busy this year, as it’s always a highlight of visitors to Portland and our campus. We offered House tours May 1 through December 28 and our friendly and knowledgable guides and docents gave tours to visitors of all ages from around the world.

For the 2014 season, interpretation at the Longfellow House was revamped to tie in with our exhibition, Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland, which explores the development of the city through the lens of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s childhood home, connecting the evolution of the house to the development of the city around it.

homeNew topics of discussion included more attention to the House’s interpretation of how fire affected the building and family, both as a dangerous element and as a source of heat; and water, including how it was accessed, and the role it played in changing understandings of health.

Holiday Season at the House

Back by popular demand was the Longfellow’s Haunted House tours this Halloween, and for the second year in a row all tours sold out! We look forward to bringing this event back in 2015.

house winterIn November and December, the House remained open for holiday tours right through Christmas. This year’s theme celebrated the friendship between Henry Longfellow and Charles Dickens, a friendship gone uncovered in recent history. During our holiday season at MHS, the House’s tour included stories of the two literary greats, their musings with one another as well as their influences in each other’s lives and writing, including Dicken’s holiday classic, A Christmas Carol.

Affect Yours

On the tour, guests could also see a mini-exhibit, Affectionately Yours, Charles Dickens, that featured an original letter written by Dickens to Longfellow in 1842.

Throughout the month of December the House also hosted additional holiday events including music on the 1843 Chickering Piano in the parlor, played by renowned pianist Dr. David Maxwell. On the House lawn we welcomed back Master Blacksmith, Sam Smith who held blacksmith demonstrations for visitors. During the December First Friday Art Walk guests were serenaded into the holiday spirit with carolers from Deering High School.

Also this year, we hosted another successful Portland Docent History program that resulted in five new docents for the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and walking trails. Are you interested in becoming a docent? Contact us about our 2015 program or click here for more information.

The Longfellow Garden

This year marked the Longfellow Garden Club’s 90th anniversary. Over this period the garden has evolved in response to changes on the MHS campus and in the city. In the 1930s, tenements along the property line were removed and replaced by a brick wall and parking areas. Also, nearby buildings have reached new heights and reduced the amount of light that falls in the garden. The research library was expanded in 1951 and in 2007, and each time the garden was reconfigured and subsequently replanted.

UntitledAll of us at MHS are grateful to the members of the Longfellow Garden Club for their dedication to this lovely and important garden. Without the hard work of this dedicated group, it is difficult to imagine what sort of a landscape would be found behind the house.

Images: (Left) LCG members Imelda Shaeffer and Sylvia Sowles, Summer 2014. (Right) LGC Members in the garden, 1951.

Read More about MHS in 2014:

Potty Talk: Fragile Objects Found in a Privy

By Dani Fazio, MHS Creative Manager

Walking through the Maine Historical Society exhibition, Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland, I am surrounded by beautiful objects that have been carefully preserved by MHS for centuries, each telling stories of how the Wadsworth-Longfellow House remained an anchor amidst the city’s unfolding drama. As I near the far end of the museum, I spot something out of place: a display of objects that do not seem to have been carefully preserved—there are cracked pieces of china, a mug with a hole in it, fragments of glass, mismatched buttons, a pipe that appears quite filthy, and an indiscernible object that I learn from the label is part of a man’s shoe.

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photo 4

What are these orphan objects and what do they have to do with each other or with the Wadsworth-Longfellow House? I read up on the display in the panel that is titled “The Privy.” Wait, isn’t a privy an outhouse?

The Brown Library at MHS was renovated a few years ago, and the adjacent Longfellow Garden had to be dismantled to allow for the crews and machines to access the building project. In 2008, workers who were rebuilding the garden wall noticed objects in the soil—broken glass and ceramics at first. This prompted an archaeological investigation by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission of the space and, according to the exhibition panel, “determined the ceramics had been thrown into a privy that was once used by residents who lived next door at 47 Brown Street.” So, these objects I’m looking at were in a latrine?

Reading on, I am relieved to learn that when Portland established a sewer system the privy was no longer needed and filled with debris—precisely the objects I see before me. These items serve as a humble reminder of how the immigrant and working class residents of the Brown Street apartments and boarding houses experienced urban living in the mid-19th century.

I am also relieved to see that, despite the fragile condition these former castaways were found in, MHS has dedicated itself to carefully preserving the privy artifacts for centuries to come.

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Home: The Longfellow House & the Emergence of Portland is open daily from 10am – 5pm and has an online component on the Maine Memory Network.

2013: A Year in Review at Maine Historical Society

2013_Year In Review

From electricity to the Civil War, Haunted Houses to vintage baseball games, one new building to 20,000 digitized tax records from 1924, MHS has many 2013 accomplishments to celebrate. Our exhibits, public programs, community partnerships, staff changes, and ongoing projects are highlighted in this 2013: A Year in Review at MHS blog post. We hope you enjoy what our staff has put together, and will share any comments on your favorite moments with us this past year.

You can share your comments at the end of this post, on our Facebook page, or by sending us an e-mail at info@mainehistory.org.



This Rebellion: Maine and the Civil War

Our current museum exhibit opened on June 27. This Rebellion showcases the rich array of our Civil War collections as it tells the story of individual soldiers and others involved in the War. The exhibit features a Memorial Wall of more than 8,000 names of members of Maine regiments who were killed or died during the War. The exhibit is on display through May 26, 2014. An online version of this exhibit is available on Maine Memory Network.

exhibit_wiredWired: How Electricity Came to Maine June 22, 2012 – May 26, 2013

Wired! explored the electrification of Maine during the 20th century, and how a rural state became modern. Told primarily through material from the Central Maine Power collection, it explored the landscape, mechanics, economics, politics, and culture of electricity. An online version of this exhibit is available on Maine Memory Network.

The following exhibits were on display in our Shettleworth Lecture Hall gallery space:

Dear Old Maine, I’m Coming Back: Home & Hearth Reflected in the Maine Historical Society Sheet Music Collection November 1, 2013 – January 31, 2014

Thundered Over the Tide: 200th Anniversary of the Battle of the Boxer & the Enterprise August 31 – October 25, 2013

Patriotic Imagery  June 27 – August 26, 2013

Vintage Maine Images: A Website Comes to Life  May 1 – June 23, 2013

Maine Things: Recent Museum Acquisitions  March 1 – May 2013

In a Whole New Light  November 2 – February 2013



We received more than 325 gifts to the collections in 2013, representing over 450 linear feet of new material. One major acquisition is the Bangor Theological Seminary Collection, which you can read all about here.

PastPerfect Online Usage

2002408070PastPerfect Online is our collection database that is available to the public. In 2013, 11,746 searches were conducted during 3,510 user sessions. This represents the heaviest usage so far since we began in 2007.

The top three search terms were “Laing” (#1), “blanket” (#2) and “civil war” (#3).

The top three records were, surprisingly, a wooden toothpick container (viewed 162 times), a glass plate negative of a Kiwanis lobster bake (viewed 159 times), and a fuse from the Central Maine Power collection (viewed 134 times).

E. Christopher Livesay Maine Imprint Library catalogued

ECL_ImprintsThis collection, collected by E. Christopher Livesay, and given to the Maine Historical Society, offers a glimpse into a period of time in Maine’s history, including its religious and printing history. The E. Christopher Livesay Maine Imprint Library of approximately 657 titles ranges from about 1772 to 1845, and while most were published in Maine, a few were published outside the state. Read more about it in this blog post.


MHS conducted 74 programs in 2013.

A few non-traditional topics and formats drew in new audiences and garnered good publicity for MHS’s public programs in 2013. Highlights:

MHS_Base Ball Event_2013

  • “Intro to MHS”–a rotating schedule of noontime programs on standard MHS resources and services (library collections and databases, the museum catalog, and Maine Memory Network)–offered a new way for the Greater Portland population to learn in depth about what we do.
  • Food-based programs drew big numbers and a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Big hits were two fall programs that paired lively historical talks with substantial tastings of 1) heirloom apples and 2) Maine beer. Click those links to view images from our Facebook page.
  • Our 2nd Annual Vintage Baseball game in June drew 200+ to a double-header at Southern Maine Community College. Be sure to join us again this year!
  • A new four-session “Summer in the Garden” series offered something for everyone: live music, poetry, a talk on Maine birds, and a historic gardening workshop. Photos on our Facebook page.
  • We began a fruitful partnership with Northeast Document Conservation Center by offering a day-long workshop on preservation of collections that filled the lecture hall to capacity.


Staff News

The Brown Library enjoyed an exciting year. Jamie Rice is now Director of Library Services and Nicholas Noyes is our Library Collections Curator. Tiffany Link joined the staff as Reference Librarian.


boxerIn August, the library welcomed over 50 historians and graduate students for our Historian’s Forum.

September 5th marked the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of the HMS Boxer & the USS Enterprise. With support by the Maine Humanities Council, the Library launched a weeklong commemoration of this pivotal naval battle with an exhibit, programming and a funeral service at the Eastern Cemetery, co-hosted by the Maine Military Historical Society. Photos on Facebook.


In 2013 Maine Memory Network (MMN) continued to serve historical collecting organizations around the state in digitizing and posting their items online. The site had more than 329,000 visitors and approximately 1,900,000 page views.

47832_PTR_LRAbout 21,260 items were added to the database from 67 different contributors, 88% of which were part of the 1924 Portland Tax Record digitization project. Maine Memory now has approximately 270 contributing organizations.  Read this Portland Press Herald article about the Tax record project.

Since 2011, we have awarded 46 grants to organizations and communities to work on MMN digitization and online exhibit projects thanks to funding provided by an Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) National Leadership Grant. The final cycle took place this past spring, during which seven grants were awarded. Workshops, training and support around the state was in full force and remains constant. In October, MHS was awarded another National Leadership Grant from IMLS to continue our Maine Memory outreach and also open the site up to comments and contributions from individuals. We will be planning and developing tools to strengthen and enhance the Maine Memory experience for all in the coming years.

In September, we welcomed Sofia Yalouris to the digital division team as the Image Services Coordinator. She manages Vintage Maine Images and handles all rights and reproduction requests for MHS. Kathy Amoroso, Director of Digital Projects celebrated 12 years with the society and Candace Kanes, MMN curator celebrated 10 years of service at MHS.


PrintIn May, MHS  launched the redesign of our website Vintage Maine Images (VMI). Originally built in 2004, the site serves as a way to sell images from Maine Memory Network. It’s been redesigned for improved ease of use, and has a modern new look.

VMI is a shopping web site offering reproductions of more than 26,000 historical Maine images. VMI provides products for a range of uses including home and office décor, gifts, publications, and more.

This milestone was celebrated with a launch party at the opening of the exhibit Vintage Maine Images: A Website Comes to Life, the introduction of a Vintage Maine Images iPad kiosk in the museum store, and the Vintage Maine Images Facebook page.

VMIA Vintage Maine Evening, held on May 22, gathered local business leaders for an evening of history, business, cocktails, and food. Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, MHS Executive Director Stephen Bromage, and then-Image Services Coordinator Dani Fazio all gave remarks. View photos of the event on the VMI Facebook page.


garden 2011 May #14The Longfellow Garden was awarded “Best Hidden Garden” by Downeast Magazine. For photos of all the “Best of 2013” winners, click here.

Our 2013 Wadsworth-Longfellow House tour season had much activity, hosting guests from far reaches of the globe including Sri Lanka, India, Australia, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Spain, and all across the U.S. Many schoolchildren visited, and enjoyed learning about the poet when he was a child. We offered special tours for groups including Seeds of Peace, the MFA Boston, Downeast Adult Services, and the Walpole Society. We collaborated with the Longfellow Garden Club to bring other garden clubs to tour our campus. This summer a film HauntedHouse_webcrew from Japan came to the House and filmed for a Portland tourism segment, which will air on Japanese television. As always, our guides and docents made this season a success!

Our first-ever Longfellow’s Haunted House was a hit this year, with guests getting thrilled and chilled by James Horrigan’s performance of the poem “Haunted Houses” and learning about those who died in the Longfellow House. See photos on our Facebook page.


Jewish History Projects get go-ahead

Susan Cummings-Lawrence has continued in her role as consultant for Jewish History projects for Maine Historical Society.  This year we were able to secure funding for two exciting initiatives.

The Maine Humanities Council has given the Mount Carmel Cemetery Association a $7,500 grant  to create programming around Anshe Sfard synagogue, built in Portland in 1916. This project is an opportunity to explore the life of this unique congregation and to develop public awareness of the complexity of Portland community life and experience. Maine Historical Society is supporting the project by hosting an exhibition.  MMN Curator Candace Kanes is guiding the work as project scholar.

Maine Historical Society is also working with Susan to support the scanning and translation of numerous Yiddish documents that have been discovered at synagogues across the state.  This great community-driven endeavor has been funded by several small family foundations and is sure to yield fascinating results.  Selections of the translated documents will be available to researchers on the Maine Memory Network.


SONY DSCThe eventful 2013 MHS Annual Meeting, held at the Pepperell Mill Campus in Biddeford, saw the approval of the revised and restated MHS bylaws by unanimous vote of approximately 75 attending members as well as the election of new trustees. The Board President, Katherine Stoddard Pope, passed responsibility to Lendall Smith, who was elected to the new role of Chair of the Board of Trustees. Fran Pollitt received the Elizabeth Ring Service Award. Stan Howe was presented with the Neal Woodside Allen Jr. History Award. The James Phinney Baxter Award was given to Christopher Bilodeau. MHS trustee Fred Thompson was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award. Photos of the event can be found on this blog post.


MHS celebrated its 16th year hosting the annual Gala. Event Chair Aynne Doil and committee members Eric Baxter, Dan Kennedy, and Alison Leavitt helped MHS raise $58,000 and put on a great Kentucky Derby party on May 4 at The Woodlands. Save the Date for this year’s event (with a new, 1920s twist!) May 3.

IMG_0002MHS grows fiscally stronger each year through the generosity of our loyal donors and members. The 1822 Founders Council recognizes those who annually contribute $1,000 to the Annual Fund. Former Board President Katherine Pope and husband Chris Hart hosted the Council at their Cumberland Foreside home in July.  Now a festive tradition, the group also met in February at MHS where “a few of our favorite things from the MHS Collections” were presented and enjoyed by those who attended.

MHS members and friends have enjoyed nearly two decades of international travel. Each year MHS partners with Eric Baxter and AAA Northern New England and travels to interesting locations. This year the 25+ person group soaked up the treasures of Italy. This year we’ll be going to the Black Sea (call us for details 207-774-1822 ext. 216).


MHS manages an unparalleled collection of books, manuscripts, maps, and artifacts related to Maine history. While we have led the field in providing digital access to these resources, we also remain committed to our physical collections and what they represent.

Our situation is not unusual, and the more we talked to our friends at the Portland Public Library (PPL), it became clear that they shared the same space needs.  We developed the idea for collaborative solution.  On November 15, following an exhaustive due-diligence process, MHS and the PPL jointly purchased a 35,000 square foot property at 1000 Riverside Drive in Portland that will ultimately serve as a shared collections management center (SCMC). After some renovations, we expect to begin moving our collections there this Spring. Learn more about this project here.

Executive Director Steve Bromage shares his thoughts on the Collections Management Center being developed with the Portland Public Library in this blog post.


photo 2The MHS Museum Store received a much needed face-lift this year with the generous gift of cherry wood bookcases.  Thank you to Baker, Newman, Noyes for the donation and to MHS Facilities Manager, Steven Atripaldi for installing them!


DSC_0037The year concluded with a month-long celebration of the holidays with our now four-year old program “Celebrate the Season with MHS!” Highlights included Longfellow House tours decorated for the holidays with renowned pianist David Maxwell who played live music on1843 Chickering piano, and the program “Home for the Holidays” showcasing traditional artists and craftspeople. Photos from the event are on Facebook. Our members enjoyed the annual holiday party on December 5.


In addition to the new staff mentioned in the Library and Digital Engagement sections, we also made these staff additions and changes in 2013:

Nan Cumming, Director of Institutional Advancement, returned to the Maine Historical Society after a 13-year absence. She had previously worked for MHS in a variety of capacities from 1989 to 1999; Nan recently worked as the Director of the Capital Campaign at Maine Island Trail Association, and Executive Director of Portland Trails.

David “Butch” Sullins became the Interim Finance Director in August, and Kathy Finnell took on the Director of Finance role in December. We are grateful for their expertise!

John Babin has worked as a Longfellow House guide since 2007 and is now the Visitor Services Manager.

Larissa Vigue Picard is now the Director of Education and Interpretation. Larissa has been with MHS since  2009, formerly as the Community Partnership Coordinator.

Dani Fazio, Creative Manager, has been with MHS since 2008. She worked as the Image Services Coordinator (and part time Design Coordinator) until September when she joined the Department of Institutional Advancement.


  • Nancy Noble’s blog post on our menu collection garnered interest from the food editor of the Portland Press Herald, who wrote this article about the menus for her column on September 11. Stay tuned for our next lecture hall exhibit, From Chop Suey to Washington Pie: Maine Menus, opening on Friday, May 7 during the First Friday Art Walk (also happens to be Maine Restaurant Week!)
  • Civil War Symposium a Success! More than 170 people attended Local & Legendary: Maine in the Civil War Sesquicentennial Symposium at USM’s Hannaford Hall on Saturday, April 27. The event was the kick-off to more than two years of programming as part of a joint Civil War project between Maine Historical Society and Maine Humanities Council.
  • Local History Local Schools: on March 27 we hosted a Local History Local Schools celebration. The partnership program, based on the Wired! museum exhibit, involves in-classroom visits from MHS educators as well as a trip to the museum, research and art-making, and a family celebration displaying student work in the museum at the project’s culmination. Students from Wentworth School in Scarborough learned about electricity and created art in the style of graphic novels on themes around electricity and power.

To all our members, Trustees, donors, staff, volunteers, and friends: thank you for helping make 2013 a historic year for MHS!

Stay connected with MHS:

Become a member, sign up for our e-connection, join the conversation on Facebook, get inspired on Pinterest, and be sure to bookmark this blog.

A Landscape is Worth a Thousand Words


While many visitors to Maine Historical Society think of the Longfellow Garden as only that long, descending space behind the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, the garden really begins as soon as you step off the Congress Street sidewalk and walk through the gate. This enticing view shows the lush results of the landscaping leading along the path to the Brown Research Library, and to the right of the house.

This week we honor the art and science of landscaping with our annual Olmsted Lecture, named for the famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Landscape historian Judith Tankard will be here Thursday at 7PM to talk about the subject of her book, Beatrix Farrand: Public Gardens, Private Landscapes. Farrand was one of America’s most celebrated landscape architects renowned for private gardens, many of which were located in Maine.

For more details on the talk, visit our Programs page.

Become a PHD in 12 Weeks!

house_tour2Okay, so by PHD we don’t mean Doctor of Philosophy degree. But we do mean something arguably more fun, and certainly more quickly rewarding.

Have you ever wanted to become a docent at the Longfellow House, or at one of the other historic sites in the city? Now’s your chance. Portland’s History Docents Program (PHD) is a collaborative effort by Greater Portland Landmarks, Maine Historical Society, Tate House Museum, Victoria Mansion, Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum, Fifth Maine Regiment Museum, and Evergreen and Eastern Cemeteries to train new volunteer guides.


The cost to participate is $30 for a twelve-week course. Classes are on Thursdays, starting February 7 and ending on May 2, from 9:00am-12:00pm at MHS and feature a number of guest speakers. PHD graduates are asked to commit to a year of volunteer time at one of the eight sponsoring sites. In return, they receive knowledge, experience, and friendships that last a lifetime.

PHD graduates who volunteer with MHS give tours of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and conduct Old Port Walking Tours; they also have the opportunity to volunteer in other aspects of MHS operations. Deadline for registering is February 5.

To sign up, contact Marjorie Getz, PHD Coordinator, at 207-774-5561 ext. 120, or Bridget McCormick, Education Coordinator at MHS, 207-774-1822 x212 or bmccormick@mainehistory.org.