Maine Historical Society recently received a Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources grant to create robust lesson plans pairing historical items on Maine Memory Network with related items from the Library of Congress’s American Memory. Curriculum is being created on three pilot topics (immigration, World War I, and Maine statehood) and two teacher workshops will be held in August (one in Portland on August 4, one in Bangor on August 6) to share the plans and provide hands on sessions using the databases.
Stipends of $50 are available to attend the workshop. Teachers are encouraged to share what they learn back in their district with members of their teaching teams and other colleagues. Five teachers who attend the workshops will be invited to serve as case studies during the 2015-2016 academic year for an additional, larger stipend. Case studies involve having 4-6 classroom visits by MHS education staff throughout the year.
If would you like to learn more about the workshops and get a registration form, please email Kathleen Neumann, Manager of School Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know a teacher who might be interested, please pass this along.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Home: The Longfellow House & the Emergence of Portland is open daily from 10am – 5pm and has an online component on the Maine Memory Network.