Digital Engagement & Maine Memory Network

2014: It’s All History Now (Part 1 of 7)

MMNOur Digital Engagement department reports that 2014 has been an exciting and productive year for its staff–digitizing new items, visiting communities throughout Maine, and providing online access to historical material for people across the world through the Maine Memory Network (MMN). MMN is an online museum that makes thousands of Maine-related historical items and online exhibits from our Contributing Partners–museums, archives, libraries, and historical societies–available to online viewers.

In 2014, MMN received approximately 1,783,500 page views with more than 262,000 visitors. More than 1,000 items were posted online to Maine Memory by several of our approximately 270 contributing partner organizations. At the close of this year, MMN has 44,816 historical items online, 200 online exhibits, and 276 contributing partner sites.

Amazing 20Nationalities WorkingWomen

Some popular online exhibits include Amazing! Maine Stories, Twenty Nationalities, But All Americans, Auto Racing in Maine: 1911, Cape Elizabeth Shipwrecks, Longfellow: The Man Who Invented America, and Working Women of the Old Port.

The Top 10 Maine Memory Network Items of 2014

(as measured by page views)

  1. #13423 Conrad Heyer, Waldoboro, ca. 1852. Contributed by Maine Historical Society. (Thanks to PetaPixel and Huffington Post articles about “The Earliest Born Person Ever to Be Photographed”)
  2. #7572 Medical Recipe from the late 1700s.
  3. #13249 Letter from Sarah Sampson to Gov. Abner Coburn on August 17, 1863. Contributed by Maine State Archives. (She describes how she had been at Gettyburg for nearly four weeks after the battle, caring for the injured and dying Maine men who were still in makeshift field hospitals located around the area.)
  4. #27949 Alameda Roller Polo Players, Bath, ca. 1895. Contributed by Patten Free Library.
  5. #1203 Teams of Horses Scrape Ice off the Kennebec River near Bowdoinham, ca. 1895. Contributed by Maine Historical Society.
  6. #29224 Deborah Morton Pours Tea for Westbrook Seminary Faculty, ca. 1896. Contributed by Abplanalp Library, University of New England.
  7. #4171 Map of the Great Fire of Portland, 1866. Contributed by Maine Historical Society.
  8. #23426 H.H. Hay Building, Portland, ca. 1890. Contributed by Maine Historical Society.
  9. #31153 Hallowell-Chelsea Cribwork Bridge, Chelsea, ca. 1860. Contributed by Hubbard Free Library.
  10. #19228 The M. V. Bluenose Ferry, Bar Harbor, ca. 1960. Contributed by Jesup Memorial Library, photography © Willis H. Ballard Estate.

1924 Portland Tax Records: A Time Machine

735 Congress Street, Item #1158
735 Congress Street, Item #1158

One of the most used collections on Maine Memory Network is the 1924 Portland Tax Records with more than 20,000 images and building information of taxable properties from 1924.

Honan property, Island Avenue, Peaks Island. Item #89685
Honan property, Island Avenue, Peaks Island. Item #89685

In January 2014 we announced that the 1924 Portland Tax Record Digitization project was finally complete after four and a half years of work–organizing, scanning, and cataloging the records and images for all the taxable properties in Portland (and the Casco Bay islands) in 1924.

We now have more than 20,000 records online, which are searchable and images are available for purchase. The Portland Press Herald wrote this article about the success of the project through the collaborative efforts between MHS, the City of Portland, and the Portland Public Library.

Bill Barry, our Research Historian, is quoted in the article, saying, “It’s like looking through a telescope at Portland at that time…I love it, because it’s a time machine. You really can go back and see how it is.”

Local and Legendary: Maine in the Civil War

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In partnership with Maine Humanities Council, we awarded the second set of Local and Legendary: Maine in the Civil War grants, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, to Bethel, Livermore-Livermore Falls-Jay, Pittsfield, Rumford, and Scarborough.

This year and next, community teams explore LocalLegendaryStudentsconnections between Maine’s Civil War story and national themes and experiences. The Digital Engagement department provided training and support to these communities as they digitized their collections and uploaded items to Maine Memory Network. Keep up with all the teams and their progress on our (Re)Living History blog, dedicated to Maine Memory Network and educational outreach.

Featured Contributing Partner

Tate House, Portland, 1931 Item #100326
Tate House, Portland, 1931 Item #100326

One of our new Contributing Partners to Maine Memory Network in 2014 was the Tate House Museum. Longtime MHS friend (and sometimes exhibit curator) Laura Fecych Sprague, who is the consulting curator at the Tate House, spearheaded the effort to get some of the Tate House’s collections on MMN. Elizabeth Hopkins, a student at Skidmore College and a summer intern at the Tate House, learned how to scan, photograph, upload, and catalog items for MMN. She uploaded 20 items, including letters and documents that she or others transcribed. She did research in the Tate House collections and, along with Laura Sprague and Tate House Museum Assistant Grace Batsford, wrote the online exhibit, The Life and Legacy of the George Tate Family.

Other new Contributing Partners include the Lithgow Library in Augusta and the Whitefield Historical Society.

John Martin Collection

From the John Martin Journal
From the John Martin Journal

Candace Kanes, our MMN Curator, has been working with Sheila McDonald, Deputy Director of the Maine State Museum, to carry out a longtime interest of the two organizations: make at least part of the John Martin Collection – co-owned by MHS and MSM – available online. John Martin (1823-1904), a native of Ellsworth who lived primarily in Hampden and Bangor, called himself “expert accountant.” However, Martin was much more.

From the John Martin Journal
From the John Martin Journal

Starting around 1864, Martin wrote accounts of his life and times so that his children would know more about him and about the community in which they grew up. His commentaries on agriculture and gardening, architecture, politics, business, church, schools, transportation, singing and dancing, and family life offer fascinating details about the era and the Penobscot River region. In addition, Martin illustrated his Journal and the three scrapbooks that are part of the collection.

The Maine State Museum wrote a grant proposal that was funded by the Delmas Foundation to digitize the Journal and scrapbooks, to prepare transcriptions, and to put at least some of it on Maine Memory Network. The 650-page journal will be the first to go online, early in 2015!

Vintage Maine Images Gives Back to Maine Communities

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War support sales, Portland, 1942. Item #21081

VintageMaineImages.com (VMI) is an online source for purchasing reproductions of more than 26,000 historical images (all of which are on Maine Memory Network). VMI sells archival photographic print reproductions, as well as high-resolution digital files and creative use fees. When we sell an image that was uploaded to our site by a Contributing Partner, we send them a check for 50% of the sale, so the money goes back into historical preservation projects in communities throughout Maine. In 2014, VMI sold a total of 584 images, 332 of which were uploaded by 44 Contributing Partners. The 1924 Portland Tax Record images proved to be the most popular type of sale with 173 images!

Our Images Used in Print, Exhibition, Film & TV

Throughout 2014, images from our collections–as well as the collections of our Maine Memory Network’s Contributing Partners–were used in many interesting projects including exhibitions, books, television, and film. Our Image Services Department manages the rights and reproductions of collection material, and works with authors and organizations to provide the images needed. Images were also used in several interpretive panels this year including one at the 150th Year Celebration of Prince Edward Island sponsored by the Mi’kmaq Confederacy, one at Fort Preble on the campus of SMCC in South Portland, and another that was part of a series of panels at the Church of St Michael and All Angels in Princeton, (United Kingdom) which told the story of the American prisoners of war who built the church in the 19th Century.

Exhibitions include:

Books include:

TV & Film Projects include:

Other Department News

Kathy TillyIn August, we welcomed Tilly Laskey to the Maine Memory team as our Content Assistant. Tilly assists us in all aspects of running the website including outreach, training, and research.

This picture shows Tilly (right) with Kathy Amoroso, Director of Digital Engagement, at the Maine State Library for a Maine Archives & Museums conference.

Read More about MHS in 2014:

Autumn in the Maine woods…100 years ago

By Nancy Noble, MHS Archivist & Cataloger

Harris S. Colt, grandson of longtime Parmachenee Club member Harris D. Colt of New York City, poses with the staff of the private hunting-fishing club at Parmachenee Lake.
Harris S. Colt, grandson of longtime Parmachenee Club member Harris D. Colt of New York City, poses with the staff of the private hunting-fishing club at Parmachenee Lake. MMN# 19381

Being outdoors in the Maine woods in the fall is the best time – crisp cool nights, warm days, colorful autumn foliage, and, best of all, no mosquitoes or black flies. In northern Maine there are many sporting camps that lure folks from afar to where hunting and fishing opportunities abound. At the turn of the 20th century one of these camps, owned by the Parmachenee Club, offered expeditions into these northern woods.

Teresa Colt (Mrs. Harris D. Colt Jr.) and her father-in-law, Harris D. Colt, with an unidentified friend at the Parmachenee Club on Parmachenee Lake. MMN# 19387
Teresa Colt and her father-in-law, Harris D. Colt, with an unidentified friend at the Parmachenee Club on Parmachenee Lake, ca. 1940. MMN# 19387

The Parmachenee Club was formed in 1890 by a group of (mostly) New York City lawyers. The members obtained a lease of 120,000 acres of land, from the Old Aziscohos Dam above Wilson’s Mills to the Canadian border. They hunted and fished within these acres, and built a camp, called “Camp in the Meadows,” along the Magalloway River in Oxford County, where they lodged. Maine Guides assisted the members on their hunting and fishing expeditions.

The Parmachenee Club, a private hunting-fishing club on Treat's Island at Parmachenee Lake is seen from a distance across the lake. MMN# 19389
The Parmachenee Club, a private hunting-fishing club on Treat’s Island at Parmachenee Lake is seen from a distance across the lake, ca. 1940 . MMN# 19389

In 1910, the Berlin Mills Company and the International Paper Company built a dam in the leased territory to move cut lumber. Club members were able to penetrate further into the woods due to the new dam, but it also placed the Camp in the Meadows under twelve feet of water. The Parmachenee Club was re-established on Treat’s Island on Parmachenee Lake.

Some of the buildings of the Parmachenee Club, a private hunting-fishing club at Camp Caribou on Treat's Island, Parmachenee Lake, in about 1940. The club was founded in 1890 on the Meadows of the Magalloway River and moved to the island when a paper company dam flooded the first location. MMN# 19385
Some of the buildings of the Parmachenee Club, a private hunting-fishing club at Camp Caribou on Treat’s Island, Parmachenee Lake, in about 1940. MMN# 19385

The membership, which included women, loved the woods and the streams. Their ideal was sportsmanship, and their goal the preservation of the woods and the wildlife within it. Henry P. Wells, a member, invented a lure called the “Parmachenee Belle,” named after the club. Harris D. Colt was the oldest member. He fished there for 41 consecutive seasons.

Teresa Colt with an unidentified friend at the Parmachenee Club on Parmachenee Lake. She was married to Harris D. Colt Jr., son of longtime Parmachenee Club member Harris D. Colt of New York City. MMN #19382
Teresa Colt with an unidentified friend at the Parmachenee Club on Parmachenee Lake. MMN# 19382

It wasn’t easy to get to the camps – you had to travel by train, steamboat, canoe, and on foot, along rails, rivers, and roads. But it was worth it. The season started as soon as the ice melted in the spring and went through October 1st, “but as always, the Club will be open as early and as long as the members desire it.”

Harris D. Colt wrote to his grandson Harris S. Colt, “The first time I visited the club was in 1896. With your grandmother Colt we spent two or three weeks there in the month of September.”

Harris S. Colt, grandson of longtime Parmachenee Club member Harris D. Colt, at the private hunting-fishing camp on Caribou Island on Parmachenee Lake. MMN# 19386
Harris S. Colt with fish, in about 1940. MMN# 19386

The club disbanded in the 1960s. Many sporting camps still exist today and may be visited. Although they’re still not easy to reach, it’s not the arduous journey of 100 years ago.

For more information, search “Parmachenee” or items 19381-19387 and 19389 on the Maine Memory Network.

Harris D. Colt, a New York City lawyer, on the steps of a cabin at the Parmachenee Club on Caribou Island on Parmachenee Lake. MMN# 19383
Harris D. Colt, a New York City lawyer, on the steps of a cabin at the Parmachenee Club on Caribou Island on Parmachenee Lake. MMN# 19383
Teresa Colt (Mrs. Harris D. Colt Jr.) and friends relax at the Parmachenee Club on Camp Caribou on Treat's Island on Parmachenee Lake, ca. 1940. MMN# 19384
Teresa Colt (Mrs. Harris D. Colt Jr.) and friends relax at the Parmachenee Club on Camp Caribou on Treat’s Island on Parmachenee Lake, ca. 1940. MMN# 19384

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.

photo 5

 

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

Your Home, Past & Present

Participate in our exhibition and share your images with us!

 

Family Farm, Duck Pond Rd. in Westbrook, ca. 1895; 2012.
Gowen Family Farm, Duck Pond Rd. in Westbrook, ca. 1895; 2012.

We are interested in seeing what your home looked like in the past and how it appears today. Submit your images and we’ll install them in our exhibition Home: The Longfellow House & the Emergence of Portland and share them online. We welcome images from all towns and all states. Your childhood home, the residences of friends and family members, or intriguing houses in your area are all acceptable.

Where do I get the Past image?

You or a relative may have an old photo in personal collections. Maine residents may find images of homes Maine Memory Network, our statewide digital museum. Residents of Portland and the Casco Bay islands can find images from the 1924 tax assessment on Maine Memory Network.

Get the Past Image from Maine Memory Network:

Step 1. Search www.MaineMemory.net for your desired past image.

Step 2. Make note of the Item Number (e.g., Item 5417)

Step 3. Send an e-mail to home@mainehistory.org and request a digital file by typing in the Item Number

Step 4. We will e-mail you a digital file that you can download and print at home. Use the paper copy to create your Past & Present image.

Get the Past Image from the 1924 Tax Assessment (Portland & Casco Bay islands)

Step 1. Search for a property on www.MaineMemory.net/PTR. (Search tips)

Step 2. When you find your property, click “View & Download Record (PDF)”

Step 3. Download the PDF and print. The second page will include a large image of the property. Cut it out and use it in when creating your Past & Present image.

 

How do I make a Past & Present image?

Use a digital camera or smartphone to create your Past & Present image. There’s no “right way” to make an image–get creative! Here are some different ways to make your composition:

1. Hold up the printed Past picture in front of the home as it appears now. The images do not need to line up exactly, and you can see a side-by-side comparison within the frame. It’s okay if your hand is in the shot. (Submit one image)

2. Line up the printed Past image in perspective with the environment. Make a picture that is seamless between the two images. It’s okay if your hand is in the shot. (Submit one image)

3. Take a Present image of the home as it appears now, in similar perspective to the historical image. Do not include the printed historical image in your composition. (Submit two images: Past picture and Present picture)

 

How do I submit my Past & Present image?

Send an e-mail to home@mainememory.net with your digital image(s) attached. We accept files saved as JPG/JPEG, PNG, and PDF.

If you only took a Present picture and your Past picture is on Maine Memory Network, include the Item Number so we can print both images for your submission.

Please include your name, the location of the image, and a story you’d like to share about the image in the e-mail (optional). Please limit your caption to 50 words. Let us know what information you would and would not like shared.

 

What happens with my images?

Maine Historical Society staff will receive your submission by e-mail. Your image will be printed with or without a caption and added to the Your Home, Past & Present display in our museum exhibition. Please note that some low-resolution images may not be large enough to be made as prints. Images will rotate as new images are submitted.

Your image will also be shared on the Maine Historical Society Facebook album Your Home, Past & Present and in a slideshow on our website. MHS reserves the right to select which images will be displayed in the exhibition and when. Submissions may be removed at any time without notice.

Other Details:

1. Submissions begin on June 17, 2014 and will continue for one year.

2. You may submit as many images as you like.

3. Home images that show interiors and exteriors are welcome.

4. People can be in the pictures.

5. “Past” doesn’t mean 100 years old! You can determine what a historical image is.

6. Please make sure you have permission to use Past images if they are from personal collections or websites other than Maine Memory Network. If people are in your Present images, please make sure they are comfortable having their likeness on display.

7. If you do not want your images shared online, you must note that in your e-mail submission.

Questions?

E-mail home@mainememory.net and an MHS staff member will reply shortly.

Thank you for participating in Home: The Longfellow House & the Emergence of Portland!

Recap: 2014 Contributing Partner Conference

By Kathy Amoroso, Director of Digital Engagement

On May 22, 2014, the Maine Historical Society’s division of Digital Engagement hosted a conference for Maine Memory Network contributing partners and those interested in participating in MMN. Twenty-six enthusiastic attendees heard from speakers including Tom Rieger, Director of Image Services at Northeast Document Conservation Center who talked about innovative audio digitizing and best practices for audio archives, and Charlie Bacall, partner at Verrill Dana who discussed copyright issues relating to publishing in books and online.

Several MMN contributors spoke about their community or society’s projects during the lunchtime “lightning talks,” giving all a flavor of the work that is being done around the state. Breakout sessions on digital photography and how to maintain an organizational website within the MMN site were offered as “how to” workshops. During the day, the MMN team was able to hear and capture valuable information from small focus groups about the MMN program and site; all reviews were very positive.

The day wrapped up with complimentary tours of the library and the Longfellow House. MHS hopes to put events like this on the calendar bi-annually.

Please enjoy this slideshow of images from the day, taken by Dani Fazio of MHS, and Nick Waugh of the Western Foothills RSU 10 Contributing Partner team.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thomas Smith’s Bookplate – Where Art and History Merge

By Holly Hurd-Forsyth, Collections Manager & Registrar

Bookplate from Annaei Senecae Tum Rhetoris Tum Philosophi..., Geneva, 1620 (S.C. 843)
Bookplate from Annaei Senecae Tum Rhetoris Tum Philosophi…, Geneva, 1620 (S.C. 843)

MHS staff are continually reviewing and researching the collections and (re)discovering wonderful things.

A beautiful, very early, and very rare, printed bookplate pasted into the front of one of our Special Collections volumes recently drew attention.  It reads “Thomas Smith, Hunc Librum Vendicat. Anno. Dom MDCCVII” which translates to “Thomas Smith Claims This Book in the Year of Our Lord 1707.” The words are surrounded by a woodcut border of flowers, including roses and thistles. The boldness of the design combined with the early date, and the name “Thomas Smith” warranted further investigation.

As it turns out, this book belonged to Thomas Smith (1678-1742), a merchant in Boston and the father of Parson Thomas Smith (1702-1795) who was the first minister of the first church in Portland (then Falmouth). Parson Smith served as minister for 68 years, until he died in his early 90s. His journals were published in 1849, and provide a valuable window into early to mid-18th century Portland.

The bookplate itself is important. Sinclair Hamilton, the preeminent scholar of early American printing and book illustration proclaims it “…is probably the first ornamental American bookplate” and demonstrates the advancement of the art of woodcut printing in the American colonies.

The book (S.C. 843: Annaei Senecae Tum Rhetoris Tum Philosophi…, published in Geneva in 1620) was a gift of Florence Codman of New York City in 1958. 

For more information on bookplates, see this Maine Memory Network online exhibit, Bookplates Honor Annie Louise Cary, developed by the Cary Memorial Library in Wayne.

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.

MUSEUM

exhibit_rebellion2

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

COLLECTIONS

Acquisitions

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.

PUBLIC PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

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.

BROWN LIBRARY

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.

Events

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.

DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT & MAINE MEMORY NETWORK

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.

VINTAGE MAINE IMAGES

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.

WADSWORTH-LONGFELLOW HOUSE AND GARDEN

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.

INSTITUTIONAL ADVANCEMENT

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.

ANNUAL MEETING BUSINESS AND AWARDS

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.

FUNDRAISING EVENTS

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).

NEW BUILDING FOR COLLECTION STORAGE

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.

MUSEUM STORE

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!

CELEBRATE THE SEASON

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.

STAFF CHANGES

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.

OTHER NEWS AND EVENTS

  • 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!

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