Dressing Up for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving costume party, Farmington State Normal School, 1917

In the early part of the 20th century, a mid-semester visit home from college, even for an important holiday, may have been out of the question for many students. Transportation options were fewer, and the cost could be prohibitive for families already struggling to pay school fees.

So what to do for the students who remained on campus? At Farmington State Normal School–now the University of Maine, Farmington–it was a yearly tradition for students unable to go home for the Thanksgiving holiday to dress up as children and have a party.

Read much more about the early days of UMF–which celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2014–in this exhibit from university staff and students, We Used to Be “Normal”: A History of Farmington State Normal School.

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Growing the Collections–Online

High back hair comb, Portland, ca. 1810: a recent addition to Maine Memory Network.

52,200+ and counting.

That’s the total number of historic items currently searchable online via Maine Historical Society’s two ever-growing databases: our PastPerfect online catalog and Maine Memory Network.

In July, nearly 500 records and more than 1,200 images were added to PastPerfect online. The catalog now contains almost 32,000 searchable records and 23,500 images for museum objects, photographs, manuscript letters, architectural drawings, and newspapers.

An Electric Reflector Heater, ca. 1930, from MHS's Central Maine Power collection. View the CMP Collections, and much more, at http://mainehistory.pastperfect-online.com/.

Among the additions, highlights include objects from our substantial Central Maine Power collection, images from the Portland Press Herald glass plate negative collection, panoramic photographs, and additional autograph letters from the voluminous Dr. John S. H. Fogg collection. (A Maine native, Fogg amassed the impressive collection over a six-year period later in life when he was confined to a wheelchair and forced to stop practicing medicine.)

Mary King Scrimgeour dress, Lewiston, ca. 1895. A recent addition to MMN, and featured in the current "Dressing Up" museum exhibit.

Over in Maine Memory Network, new items and exhibits are added constantly. To see the most recent contributions–both from MHS collections and those of our 200+ Contributing Partners–visit the New Additions page.

The current crop features many items recently digitized to support MHS’s new exhibit (Dressing Up, Standing Out, Fitting In), including several stunning hair combs, medals, and jewelry, among other accoutrements.

New exhibits include Cooks and Cookees: Lumber Camp Legends, “Twenty Nationalities, but All American,” and Practical Nursing in Waterville.

Check back in with both sites frequently: you never know what will show up next!

Come on Down for “Dressing Up”

Are you an MHS member or seriously considering becoming one? Members get a lot of great benefits all the time, but this Thursday, June 23, they get an extra special treat–an invitation to the opening party for MHS’s hotly anticipated new exhibit, “Dressing Up, Fitting In, Standing Out: Adornment and Identity in Maine, 1750-1950.”

Doors open at 5PM (and close at 7PM), so you have until then to sign up! Join or renew online post haste. More details on the exhibit party are in the current This Week at MHS.

If you can’t make it to the opening, or aren’t ready for membership at this time, the exhibit opens to the public the next day (Friday, June 25) and will remain up through May 27, 2012. Plenty of time to get a look at the dresses, hats, canes, jewels, and other fabulous items we’ll have on display.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of other programs to satisfy your history craving this summer, including a new slideshow/bike tour (really!) just added this week. Check out all the details in This Week at MHS.