On embracing Pokémon GO at Maine Historical Society

PokÇmon-Go-logo

Maine Historical Society is embracing the Pokémon GO excitement around our fair city of Portland, Maine, and see it as a way to engage new audiences. We’re especially lucky to have many pokéstops nearby and a gym in the historic Monument Square across the street.

MHS PG Map

During the August 5 First Friday Art Walk, we’re hosting a special Pokémon GO meetup with lures, activities, a charging station, free wifi, themed snacks, and a chance for players to interact with our gallery exhibitions and to explore the Longfellow Garden. We’re asking guests to think about Maine’s history, our collection, and exhibitions while playing in their virtual reality, Which team might Henry Wadsworth Longfellow have been on and why? or  If Pokemon were around during the Great Portland Fire of 1866, which ones could have helped? We’re looking for players to relate the concepts of the game, like using water pokémon to battle against a fire pokémon, to themes in our history.

PG at MHS FFAW

Pokémon have been spotted around our campus in our store, Longfellow garden, and galleries–they’re pretty adorable. Our marketing staff share in-game screen captures on Instagram and Facebook using the hashtags #makinghistory #shopandplay #historyisfun and of course #mainehistory and #pokemongo (we’re @mainehistory).

MHS_Store Paras

In order to best serve the needs of our community, we reached out to Pokémon GO Facebook groups and asked members: what would you like to see MHS do for you on our campus? One compelling response was that there are tons of Pokéstops at monuments, landmarks, and other historical points of interest but most people don’t get to learn any of the history as they’re playing, and that’s something we can provide. We can share that information in those groups and on our own social media pages Did you know the Pokéstop at the Time and Temperature building was built in 1924 as the Chapman Building, once the tallest in the city? It can be seen as part of the Portland’s skyline from as far as Peaks Island!, as illustrated handouts and person-to-person engagement at our events, and through targeting store marketing. The timing of a new book we’re carrying in our store about the history of Portland couldn’t have been better: we’re promoting Walking Through History: Portland, Maine on Foot as the perfect companion guide for Pokémon trainers in Portland to learn all about the city’s history with this brand new publication by Paul Ledman ($20, available in our store and online). Of course, we’re also pointing players in the direction of our Brown Library for more in-depth research!

MHS_Pidgey and Book

Pidgey’s favorite book is “Walking Through History”

While we know that this trend isn’t evergreen, we’re excited to lean into the unknown and try this out! We’re grateful to other cultural organizations for paving the way over the last two weeks and convincing us to join in the fun, and to Walter Chen at Inc.com for helping us realize the biggest message: By providing a space of excitement today, we know we’ll be seeing the faces of our new audiences in days, weeks, and years to come.

-Dani Fazio, MHS Creative Manager • You can reach Dani at dfazio@mainehistory.org

Become a Portland History Docent!

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 1.07.54 PM

The Portland’s History Docents Program (PHD) is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year! Please join us for this special year, and receive knowledge, experience, and friendships that last a lifetime.

The PHD program is a collaborative effort by:

Each spring, these organizations join forces to provide a nine-week training program for new prospective volunteer guides at each organization’s respective museum site. Several weeks of lively and informative talks and presentations take place at MHS, combined with site visits to each partnering organization.

Upon graduation, PHD participants become eligible to volunteer at the site(s) of their choice, and training at those sites is scheduled on an individual basis. Graduates are asked to commit to a year of volunteer time. At MHS, docents provide tours of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, conduct the Old Port Walking Tour, assist with school groups, and work in other aspects of MHS operations.

When: Every Thursday mornings from 9:00am  – 12:00pm; March 5 – April 30, 2015.

Cost: $30, or $20 with a valid student I.D.
Download the application now.

For more information on the PHD program contact MHS’s Kathleen Neumann, Manager of School and Interpretive Programs at 207-774-1822 ext. 214, or email  kneumann@mainehistory.org. For information on the application process specifically, email volunteer@portlandlandmarks.org.

Christmas Trees from Maine

by Nancy Noble, MHS Archivist & Cataloger

Christmas trees - Coll. S-1553

By the mid-19th century Christmas trees were available for American households to purchase to decorate their homes during the holiday season. In New York City, one could purchase trees grown in Maine.

Collections at our library regarding Thomas W. Jackson Jr. and his son Herbert A. Jackson, nurserymen in Stroudwater (now Portland), confirm the availability of Maine trees grown to sell in New York. An advertisement states: “20,000 Christmas trees from the State of Maine, 4 to 25 feet high will be sold very low for cash. Twenty years experience collecting Christmas trees for the New York market.”

An 1860 invoice shows cash sales for Christmas trees. The business started off slow on December 13th with sales of only $2.35, but peaked by December 21st with sales of $70.18. A total of $341.04 worth of Christmas trees was sold by December 24th. (One wonders how much each tree cost).

Coll. 2776 Jackson collection Christmas trees invoice 1870

An 1870 invoice reveals that cash was “received for Christmas trees deducting expenses after leaving home from Dec. 12th to 29th 1870” ($879.86). A bill was paid for $146.50 for “travelling expenses on acct of trees from Oct. 4th to Nov. 5th, 1870.”

Coll. 2776 Jackson collection Christmas tree invoice 1860

Some things never change. Christmas trees from Maine are still desirable and trucked to New York and elsewhere, and pine boughs and wreaths are shipped all over the world. After all, we are the “Pine Tree State!”

For more information on these collections see Coll. 2776 and Coll. S-1553.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Maine Historical Society! We look forward to making history with you in 2015.

An Abundance of Scrapbooks

By Nancy Noble, Archivist/Cataloger

IMG_4085

I love scrapbooks. Even though they can be problematic, they have much to recommend them. They can be charming and quirky – the whimsical selections reflect the tastes of the compiler. They can be informative – documenting a movement or organization. And they can be indicative of how people created, collected, and presented information many years ago, in the days before the digital tools we have at our fingertips existed.

So, it wasn’t much of a hardship to make it a summer project to pluck over 100 scrapbooks out of backlog, where some have been languishing for at least 50 years, waiting to see the light of day. (Mostly I was weary of shifting them around and in desperate need of space).

109 scrapbooks later, I want to share with you my favorites, as well as some observations about them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

They typically contain newspaper clippings, but some include programs, correspondence, and photographs. Many focus on a theme, such as the hurricane of 1938 (Scrapbook 17), tuberculosis (Scrapbooks 45 and 84), and World War II. The war scrapbooks focus on scrap salvage efforts (Scrapbook 7), and men and women from the Belfast area who served in the military (Scrapbooks 50, 57, and 58). Two of my favorites are about the Emerson Mason School of the Dance (Scrapbook 122) and the Dorothy Mason School of the Dance (Scrapbook 123). The Emerson-Mason School of the Dance was located at 73 Oak Street in Portland, and run by Janet Emerson and Dorothy Mason. It was later known as the Dorothy Mason School of the Dance. Dorothy Mason (Mrs. John Wesley Craig) operated her school for 45 years.

I enjoyed cataloging the scrapbooks compiled by William E. Sutherland, the longtime chief engineer on the Oakey L. Alexander. He compiled a scrapbook about the wreck of that freighter, which shipwrecked off of Cape Elizabeth in 1947 (Scrapbook 52, as well as other scrapbooks on maritime history (Scrapbooks 44 and 83).

Several organization have scrapbooks represented: the Portland Port Commission (Scrapbooks 1-5), the Maine Federation of Music Clubs Choir Festivals (Scrapbooks 16, 63, and 64), Daughters of the American Revolution Maine (Scrapbook 54), and a large collection of 18 scrapbooks kept by the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Maine (Scrapbooks 80, 100-116).

The Hospitality Committee of the Portland Chamber of Commerce (1928-1943) includes a photograph of waitresses at the Cabaret D’Art in 1930, as well as photographs pasted into the scrapbook of a picnic on Peaks Island in1933 (Scrapbook 85).

Some revolve around people, such as a scrapbook compiled by Philip Greely Clifford about his father William Henry Clifford, a lawyer who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1886 (Scrapbook 47). Scrapbook 125 features Clyde H. Smith and his wife Margaret Chase Smith, including clippings regarding the death of Clyde, and the subsequent succession of Margaret, who assumed his office in the United States House of Representatives. And then there is one about Carrie Kidwell Steward of West Virginia, a vocalist and pianist who performed in Skowhegan and Portland in 1900. The scrapbook (Scrapbook 60) includes concert programs, clippings, personal correspondence, a February 3, 1891 invitation to the White House, a wedding announcement for Carrie to Mr. Philo Steward (January 9, 1895), and several small portraits.

There are also interesting scrapbooks having to do with government entities such as post offices and police departments. Scrapbook 17 contains clippings regarding the post office in Portland from about 1927-1952, the gem of which is a typescript memo and related article from 1927 regarding postal employees learning how to shoot pistols. Interspersed are wedding and obituary notices, many of which concern post office employees. Scrapbook 88 has newspaper clippings mostly related to news about the Portland Police Department in the 1920s-1930s, including promotions, deaths, retirements, and crimes and arrests.

Scrapbooks can contain newspaper columns or series. There are six compiled by George Curtis Wing consisting of his column, “From the sidelines,” published in the Lewiston Sun (Scrapbooks 10-15). George C. Wing Jr. was born and raised in Auburn. He was a politician, lawyer, served on the Maine House of Representatives from 1921-1922, and served as mayor of Auburn from 1934-1935. Earle G. Shettleworth, Maine’s State Historian and the Director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, wrote a series of articles, mainly from 1965-1967 (with some articles as late as 1978), entitled “Portland’s Heritage,” which ran in the Portland Evening Express (Scrapbook 42).

Elizabeth E. Fox is the queen of the scrapbook compilers, having assembled 20 related to Maine history, especially Portland and Westbrook history (Scrapbooks 19-36, 72). Edward C. Clarey’s passion was for the Robinhood and Georgetown area (Scrapbooks 65-68) – he was born in 1876 in Georgetown where he spent more of this life, working on his farm. He compiled many of these in the 1950s, shortly before his death in Bath in 1960. Harry S. Boyd was interested in Portland history, and compiled 6 scrapbooks related to that (Scrapbooks 37-41). Boyd (1878-1868) wrote A History of Portland Banks in 1895, and worked as a bank cashier or treasurer for most of his life.

Whether about specific topics or organizations, or general history of a time or place, scrapbooks offer a fascinating look into an era, of what was important or of interest to folks in Maine. Scrapbooking continues to be popular today, although in a different format, oftentimes digital.

To view all our scrapbooks in our catalog, click here.

 

“Your Maine Home” Essay Contest Winner – 1st place

1stplace

We are pleased to present below the first place winner of our 2014 “Your Maine Home” essay contest. This year we asked to hear about defining moments in the history of your Maine home or neighborhood. The contest ran in the summer and the winners were announced in the fall print newsletter, which was mailed to MHS members last week. The second and third place winners will appear on this blog on Tuesday, September 9 and Wednesday, September 10–so come back soon! Congratulations to the winners, and many thanks to all the entrants. We received many wonderful stories.


Pine View Farm

By Barbara A. Desmarais

 

Pine View Farm once sat upon a gentle knoll in the New Meadows section of Brunswick.

Pine View Farm once sat upon a gentle knoll in the New Meadows section of Brunswick.

 

Pine View Farm in the New Meadows section of Brunswick had been in my family since the late 1700s.

My mother and her seven siblings often reminisced about visiting and working at the 78-acre homestead. They remembered their grandmother, Mary, as a hard-working woman who rarely smiled. Aunt Grace was cheerful and musical, playing organ both at home and at church. Uncle Charlie, they all agreed, was dour and quiet, most comfortable when caring for his beloved dairy cows. The children were never allowed in Charlie’s domain – the cow barn. They remembered pumping water from the well and using a two-holer outhouse, too.

The farm abutted the thousand-acre Town Commons, which encompassed a managed white pine and red oak forest, as well as a blueberry barren planted on the sandy plain. Grampa’s own father had helped plant the white pines that gave their farm its name. In 1930, the town voted to establish the Brunswick Municipal Airport, replacing the sandy plain with aeroplanes.

During World War Two the Town Commons, which had belonged to the citizens of Brunswick since 1719, became the Naval Air Station Brunswick. Aunt Grace saw opportunity in the sudden stream of people traveling past the farm. She baked breads and fruit pies in the wood cook-stove, churned butter and ice cream by hand with milk fresh from the cow, then sold them all at her farm stand just outside the back gate of the Navy base.

In 1956 and ’57, the Federal government bought up the farms surrounding the base, including the roads that had connected New Meadows to parts of Brunswick and Harpswell. The family sold Pine View Farm and it was scheduled to be demolished. My family always ended their round of remembrances by recalling that Uncle Charlie neglected to tell Grampa the exact date when the farmhouse was to be burned to the ground, so Grampa never had the opportunity to gather up the family papers. Generations of documents went up in flame because, the family said, Charlie didn’t care about the family records. My family’s only relics are Mary’s 1888 wedding quilt sewn and signed by the women of New Meadows, Aunt Grace’s 1890s bisque doll, the 1908 46-star American flag that once flew at Pine View Farm, and the 1918 china pitcher used to serve fresh milk to eight rambunctious nieces and nephews.

Today an empty field is all that is left of the farm.

Today an empty field is all that is left of the farm.

And so, one building after another was demolished, effectively erasing not just Pine View Farm, but the very fabric of New Meadows where generations of neighbors had lived, loved and married, where they had worked and worshipped. My own family and all of New Meadows had lost a vital connection to our past. The base closed in 2011. The community has regained access to some of the natural areas, but an empty munitions bunker still stands in place of our homestead.

The families' surviving relics were a 1888 wedding quilt sewn, a 1890s bisque doll, the 1908 46-star American flag that once flew at Pine View Farm, and a 1918 china pitcher.

The families’ surviving relics were a 1888 wedding quilt sewn, a 1890s bisque doll, the 1908 46-star American flag that once flew at Pine View Farm, and a 1918 china pitcher.

Brunswick, Maine

“Where Hostilities Are Now In Progress”: Documents from the MHS WW1 Collection

By Pamela Ruth Outwin, MLIS, Brown Library Intern

 

By the first week of August of 1914, nearly all of continental Europe was embroiled in war. Russia and France had entered the conflict at the same time, with Russia crossing the border into Germany on August 1. Germany crossed into Luxembourg the next day in preparation for invading France, while Belgium desperately attempted to maintain its neutrality. Their resolution did not last long; within two days, Germany had declared war on Belgium as well, in order to secure their route into France. By August 7 the British military had been mobilized, and the first of the British Expeditionary Forces had landed on French soil.

European Map “Where Hostilities Are Now In Progress” ca. 1914

European Map “Where Hostilities Are Now In Progress” ca. 1914

Throughout June and July, King George V of England was in constant contact with his fellow sovereigns and leaders across Europe, searching for a way to keep his country out of the conflict. The last of the major European countries to join the fight, Britain had tried to act as a mediator between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and their closest neighbors in Continental Europe. However, once the threat of violence and the reality of formal war crept towards the borders of Britain, the country was swift to join the action. Word of mouth was not sufficient for instructing the population as to why they had joined a greater conflict, especially with a large amount of pro-German propaganda being printed and distributed on a regular basis. As such, both the British Government and private individuals took advantage of the vast printing and publishing resources available to them to produce material that was used not only by British citizens throughout the course of the war, but sent to the United States in an effort to sway public opinion.

“Great Britain’s Reasons For Going To War.” Sir Gilbert, box 1.

“Great Britain’s Reasons For Going To War.” Sir Gilbert, box 1.

Britain’s entry into the war was not confined to the citizens of the British Isles; the entire Empire came with them. Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand, and all the other protectorates were encouraged to send men, munitions, and any materials they could spare as soon as possible. Australia and Canada, in particular, would have a great deal of influence on the progress of the war, particularly in Turkey and France. Astoundingly, many of the nations of Europe were enthusiastic about entering into combat, certain of their own country’s victory. Most though the war would be over in a matter of months, likely by Christmas or the New Year. That it would continue much longer, and claim many more lives than originally thought, would come as a terrible shock to all involved.

“Young Lions” Postcard, ca. 1914

“Young Lions” Postcard, ca. 1914

The Maine Historical Society’s Brown Research Library is currently in the process of preparing this collection of First World War documents for research, in time for the commemoration of the United States’ entry into the conflict. The collection materials cover the entire span of World War I, from works published at the very beginning that call it “The War of 1914” to documents produced at the end of the conflict that discuss the rebuilding of a devastated Europe.

 

This is the second article in a series about this collection. The first article can be found here: Assassinations and Entanglements: Documents from the MHS First World War Collection.

 

NOTE: This collection is not yet available for research. For further information contact Jamie Kingman Rice, Director of Library Services at jrice@mainehistory.org.