Notes from the Archives: Summer Camps in Maine

by Nancy Noble, Archivist/Cataloger

Back in March, while I looked out the window onto the Longfellow Garden and saw only mud and snow, inside my office a collection of Maine summer camps pamphlets came across my desk, and my world was suddenly full of sunshine, warmth, and visions of young campers, enjoying lakeside adventures. Now that we are on the cusp of summertime, those images are once again close to reality.

GulickCvr1GulickCvr2The pamphlets were donated to MHS from the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. Four of the five pamphlets represent the Luther Gulick Camps on Sebago Lake. Dating from around 1917 to 1923, the brochures entice young people to come join them for the summer with pictures such as “Mrs. Gulick and her three daughters in camp fire costume, making fire with the rubbing sticks,” “The ‘tug of war’ is different from most, for here the defeated end gets a ducking,” or “Each girl is given an automobile trip to the ocean with a swim in the breakers of the Atlantic.”

One brochure, dating from 1923, lists items in a “necessary outfit,” which includes:

  • two pairs of dark blue bloomers
  • three white middy blouses (unbleached blouses without color trimming)
  • four French peasant blue blouses
  • scarlet bathing suit
  • a bathing cap
  • black middy tie, scarlet middy tie
  • six pairs black stockings
  • a Southwester hat

A note states that “all necessary outfits must be secured from our official outfitters, Camp Supplies, Inc.” (located in Boston).

Sebago

The Luther Gulick Camps were founded by Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick and Charlotte Vetter Gulick in 1907. Wohelo, which still exists and is run by family members, is comprised of two girls’ residential camps – Little Wohelo (ages 6-12) and Sebago Wohelo (ages 12-16).

WhtMtnCampThere was also a Camp Timanous for Boys, which was founded in 1916 by the Gulicks – a card announcing the camp can be found with one of the pamphlets. This camp too, still exists. Another brochure is for the “Sebago-Wohelo Camps,” another variation of the name. The fifth pamphlet that came with the collection is for the White Mountain Camp (1917), which was also located in South Casco, Maine, on Sebago Lake. It was founded in 1907.

Maine Historical Society has a large collection of pamphlets about camps in Maine, especially those that existed in the early 20th century (and many of which continue to this day). You can find these by searching our online catalog under Camps – Maine.

Budding Historians Become Junior Docents

During the week of July 9, the Maine Historical Society campus played host to 10 young people, ages 9-11, attending the first-ever Junior Docent Camp. Enjoy this array of fun images from the experience, coordinated and facilitated by education staff Bridget McCormick and Rachel Miller, and then read on for more details about the week’s activities.

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Throughout the week, which consisted of three-hour days, the boys and girls learned from MHS staff how to handle, care for, and analyze primary source artifacts; studied the history of the Wadsworth and Longfellow families, the house, and the garden; visited the Portland Observatory and First Parish Church; participated in a variety of hands-on activities; and generally learned what it takes to be a knowledgeable guide of a historic house and grounds.

In addition to Bridget and Rachel, the group studied with museum curator John Mayer, library director Nicholas Noyes, and museum registrar Holly Hurd-Forsyth.

The week ended with lively student-led tours through the Wadsworth-Longfellow House for staff, parents, and friends. All who participated were thoroughly entertained and impressed with the young historians, who received a certificate of completion for their efforts, a t-shirt, and–wait for it–“Junior Docent” business cards.

Notes from the Archives

by Nancy Noble, MHS Archivist/Cataloger

A smattering of recently-processed travel brochures.

One of my favorite things to catalog is early 20th century travel brochures. These are especially fun to do in the spring, when the longer days full of sunshine want to beckon me out into nature.

Who can resist brochures advertising places such as “Arcadia-by-the-sea” (Brunswick) which promises “Shore and chicken dinners,” as well as “The Marshall House” in York Harbor?

Although the coastal delights lured many a traveler, most are for camps on lakes, such as “Richardson’s Willows” in Belgrade, “Migis Lodge” in South Casco, “Lake View House” in Winthrop, and “Farrington’s on Lake Kezar” in Centre Lovell, Maine. Many of these are illustrated with pictures of people camping, hunting, and fishing.

One of my favorites of this recently acquired group of travel brochures, which came to us from the Harvard School of Education, is “The red route : week end tour through Kennebec, Somerset and Franklin Counties, Maine with The Ledge House and Cabins, Dead River, Maine, as an ideal place to spend the night or have dinner.” This brochure includes a map, and references to Arnold’s march to Quebec.

All these brochures are evocative of another time and place, without the modern amenities we know today, where getting to Maine was an adventure by steamer, rail, or a combination thereof.