2014: It’s All History Now (Part 2 of 7)

Our education programs this year focused on increasing and diversifying our audiences and we have succeeded in a number of areas. This is due, in part, to the wonderful addition of Kathleen Nuemann, who joined our team in February as Manager of School and Interpretive Programs. She has reinvigorated our programs by creating new and engaging curricula and fresh narratives for the Wadsworth-Longfellow House.

Kathleen piloted the family-friendly, kid-approved “Children’s Hour” for young children and their caregivers. This story time and craft-making program was tied to seasonal themes around Thanksgiving and Christmas. The program drew a number of people, of all ages, who have never visited MHS before to our campus. Be on the lookout for more Children’s Hour programs in 2015!



Kids on Campus

The education team experienced one of our busiest spring seasons yet with school visits: only two weekdays in May were without school groups – one of which was Memorial Day!

SONY DSCThis summer, we held our second week-long Junior Docent Camp, where seven campers came to learn about Maine history, Longfellow, and at the week’s end, they hosted a highly-attended and well-received open house at the Wadsworth-Longfellow House for their friends, family, and the MHS staff. Because of the camp’s success, we are planning for another session in 2015, with the possibility of adding a second session.

Local History Local Schools

lhlsLocal History Local Schools, a program started in 2005 for elementary students from southern Maine, returned after being on hiatus last year. The program is based on our current major exhibition, 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 gallery at the project’s culmination.

In honor of this program, MHS recently dedicated a new student gallery space for displaying and celebrating students’ history projects. This year, students from Hall Elementary in Portland presented their work – including Wadsworth-Longfellow House models, dioramas, and hand-drawn postcards – based on our current exhibition, Home: The Longfellow House and Emergence of Portland. The event was celebrated among students, their family, friends, educators, local community, and the MHS Education Department in December. Twenty-five classrooms from five Portland-area schools have signed up to participate during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Broadening Reach

img_9977In concert with the Digital Engagement department, we worked to further incorporate the Maine Memory Network (MMN), a digital museum of images, online exhibits, and other Maine history related items from over 270 contributing partners around the state, into all our education programs.

Through MMN and the MHS website, we are helping students and educators discover Maine history in a new way with online lesson plans, tool kits and in-depth research.

For the second year, we hosted Student Spotlight talks that showcased new research from undergraduates and graduate students at Maine colleges and universities. During one session with recent Bowdoin College graduate Wallace Scot McFarlane, we facilitated a discussion about the pollution and clean up of the Androscoggin River in a partner-talk with the Maine Audubon (listen to the podcast).

Maine National History Day

MHS is part of an association group that took responsibility for restructuring and hosting Maine National History Day, an annual event for teachers and students grades 6-12 that promotes critical thinking skills through project-based learning. The University of Maine hosted the competition for the first time with great success and strong participation. MHS and the Maine Humanities Council collaborated on recruiting judges and co-facilitated the judge orientation at the contest.

NHD Fist Place Winner, Noah Binette. Photo credit: University of Maine
Photo credit: University of Maine

For the first time in years, a Maine student won a first place prize at the national competition in Washington, D.C.: Noble High School student Noah Binette (pictured left) won top place for his presentation, Malaga Island: The Community that Maine Erased. Noah’s exhibit is now on display at  Smithsonian National Museum of American History and has been chosen for display in New York at the annual conference of the American Historical Association.

Read More about MHS in 2014:

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


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

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 3.39.38 PM
War support sales, Portland, 1942. Item #21081 (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.

photo 2

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 for your desired past image.

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

Step 3. Send an e-mail to 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 (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 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.


E-mail 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.

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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.