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!

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!

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