2014: It’s All History Now (Part 1 of 7)
Our 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.
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)
- #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”)
- #7572 Medical Recipe from the late 1700s.
- #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.)
- #27949 Alameda Roller Polo Players, Bath, ca. 1895. Contributed by Patten Free Library.
- #1203 Teams of Horses Scrape Ice off the Kennebec River near Bowdoinham, ca. 1895. Contributed by Maine Historical Society.
- #29224 Deborah Morton Pours Tea for Westbrook Seminary Faculty, ca. 1896. Contributed by Abplanalp Library, University of New England.
- #4171 Map of the Great Fire of Portland, 1866. Contributed by Maine Historical Society.
- #23426 H.H. Hay Building, Portland, ca. 1890. Contributed by Maine Historical Society.
- #31153 Hallowell-Chelsea Cribwork Bridge, Chelsea, ca. 1860. Contributed by Hubbard Free Library.
- #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
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.
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 connections 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
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.
John Martin Collection
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.
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
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.
- Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion at the New York Historical Society
- Wicked Good Fiddling at the Portland Public Library
- The Legacy of Penobscot Canoes: A View from the River at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard
- The History of US-India Relations at the US Embassy in New Delhi, India
- The Pedestriennes: American’s Forgotten Superstars by Harry Hall
- Voting Down the Rose: Florence Brooks Whitehouse and Maine’s Fight for Woman Suffrage by Anne Gass
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in Portland, The Fireside Poet of Maine by John Babin (2015)
TV & Film Projects include:
- The Travel Channel’s show Mysteries at the Museum
- The PBS series Finding Your Roots
- A Ric Burns film, Debt of Honor: The History of Disabled Veterans in America (not yet released)
Other Department News
In 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.