Immigration is one of the most debated topics of debate in Maine. Controversy aside, immigration is also America's oldest tradition, and along with religious tolerance, what our nation was built upon. Since the first people--the Wabanaki--permitted Europeans to settle in the land now known as Maine, we have been a state of immigrants.
The Green Acre Baha’i School began as Green Acre Conferences, established by Sarah Jane Farmer in Eliot. She later became part of the Baha'i Faith and hosted speakers and programs that promoted peace. In 1912, the leader of the Baha'i Faith, 'Abdu'l-Baha, visited Green Acre, where hundreds saw him speak.
These stories -- that stretch from 1999 back to 1759 -- take you from an amusement park to the halls of Congress. There are inventors, artists, showmen, a railway agent, a man whose civic endeavors helped shape Portland, a man devoted to the pursuit of peace and one known for his military exploits, Maine's first novelist, a woman who recorded everyday life in detail, and an Indian who survived a British attack.
Tuberculosis -- or consumption as it often was called -- claimed so many lives and so threatened the health of communities that private organizations and, by 1915, the state, got involved in TB treatment. The state's first tuberculosis sanatorium was built on Greenwood Mountain in Hebron and introduced a new philosophy of treatment.
Chassidic Jews who came to Portland from Eastern Europe formed a congregation in the late 19th century and, in 1917, built a synagogue -- Anshe Sfard -- on Cumberland Avenue in Portland. By the early 1960s, the congregation was largely gone. The building was demolished in 1983.
Construction of the Bangor and Aroostook rail lines into northern Aroostook County in the early twentieth century opened the region to tourism and commerce from the south.
The astronomical arrival of winter -- also known as the winter solstice -- marks the year's shortest day and the season of snow and cold. It usually arrives on December 21.
For many different reasons people saved and carefully preserved the objects in this exhibit. Eventually, along with the memories they hold, the objects were passed to the Maine Historical Society. Object and memory, serve as a powerful way to explore history and to connect to the lives of people in the past.
LeBaron Atherton's furniture empire consisted of ten stores, four of which were in Maine. The photos are reminiscent of a different era in retailing.
The novelty of organized auto racing came to Maine in 1911 with a hill-climbing event in Poland and speed racing at Old Orchard Beach. Drivers and cars came from all over New England for these events.
Young men and women in the 19th century often went away from home -- sometimes for a few months, sometimes for longer periods -- to attend academies, seminaries, or schools run by individuals. While there, they wrote letters home, reporting on boarding arrangements and coursework undertaken, and inquired about the family at home.
Public education has been a part of Maine since Euro-American settlement began to stabilize in the early eighteenth century. But not until the end of the nineteenth century was public education really compulsory in Maine.
Like many cities in France, Lewiston and Auburn's skylines are dominated by a cathedral-like structure, St. Peter and Paul Church. Now designated a basilica by the Vatican, it stands as a symbol of French Catholic contributions to the State of Maine.
Belfast residents responded to the Civil War by enlisting in large numbers, providing relief from the home front to soldiers, defending Maine's shoreline, and closely following the news from soldiers and from various battles.
The largest textile factory in the country reached seven stories up on the banks of the Saco River in 1825, ushering in more than a century of making cloth in Biddeford and Saco. Along with the industry came larger populations and commercial, retail, social, and cultural growth.
Britain was especially interested in occupying Maine during the Colonial era to take advantage of the timber resources. The tall, straight, old growth white pines were perfect for ships' masts to help supply the growing Royal Navy.
Not part of the American "farm belt," Maine nonetheless has been known over the years for a few agricultural items, especially blueberries, sweet corn, potatoes, apples, chickens and dairy products.
A summer resident of Wayne collected more than 3,000 bookplates to honor Maine native and noted opera singer Annie Louise Cary and to support the Cary Memorial Library.
"The Bowdoin Boys" -- some students and recent graduates -- traveled to Labrador in 1891 to collect artifacts, specimens, and to try to find Grand Falls, a waterfall deep in Labrador's interior.
Colby originated in 1813 as Maine Literary and Theological Institution and is now a small private liberal arts college of about 1,800 students. A timeline of the history and development of Colby College from 1813 until the present.
The War of 1812 ended in December 1814, but Eastport continued to be under British control for another four years. Eastport was the last American territory occupied by the British from the War of 1812 to be returned to the United States. Except for the brief capture of two Aleutian Islands in Alaska by the Japanese in World War II, it was the last time since 2018 that United States soil was occupied by a foreign government.
Maine's corn canning industry, as illuminated by the career of George S. Jewett, prospered between 1850 and 1950.
The rocky coastline of Cape Elizabeth has sent many vessels to their watery graves.
Grenville F. Sparrow of Portland was 25 when he answered Lincoln's call for more troops to fight the Confederates. He enlisted in Co. A of Maine's 17th Volunteer Infantry regiment. He fought in 30 battles between 1862 and the war's end in 1865.
Emmie Bailey Whitney of the Lewiston Journal Saturday Magazine and her husband, noted amateur photographer G. Herbert Whitney, captured in words and photographs the richness of Maine's arts scene during the Great Depression.
Carlton P. Fogg (1899-1972) was passionate about vocational and technical education. While teaching at the high school level in Waterville, Fogg's lobbying and letter-writing helped create the Kennebec Valley Vocational Technical Institute in 1969.
The Maine Charitable Mechanic Association, an organization formed to promote and support skilled craftsmen, celebrated civic pride and members' trades with a parade through Portland on Oct. 8, 1841 at which they displayed 17 painted linen banners with graphic and textual representations of the artisans' skills.
In 1857, when Daniel Cough left Amoy Island, China, as a stowaway on a sailing ship from Mt. Desert Island he was on his way into history as the first Chinese person to make his home in Maine. He was soon followed by a cigar maker and a tea merchant who settled in Portland and then by many more Chinese men who spread all over Maine working mostly as laundrymen.
Portland's growth from 1786 to 1860 spawned a unique social and cultural environment and fostered artistic opportunity and creative expression in a broad range of the arts, which flowered with the increasing wealth and opportunity in the city.
In the 1950s and the 1960s, Maine's Civil Defense effort focused on preparedness for hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters and a more global concern, nuclear war. Civil Defense materials urged awareness, along with measures like storing food and other staple items and preparing underground or other shelters.
Although not everyone in town supported the war effort, more than 200 Pittsfield men served in Civil War regiments. Several reminders of their service remain in the town.
Maine Senator Edmund S. Muskie earned the nickname "Mr. Clean" for his environment efforts during his tenure in Congress from 1959 to 1980. He helped created a political coalition that passed important clean air and clean water legislation, drawing on his roots in Maine.
The Plymouth Company (1749-1816) managed one of the very early land grants in Maine along the Kennebec River. The maps from the Plymouth Company's collection of records constitute some of the earliest cartographic works of colonial America.
George Henry Preble of Portland, nephew of Edward Preble who was known as the father of the U.S. Navy, temporarily lost his command during the Civil War when he was charged with failing to stop a Confederate ship from getting through the Union blockade at Mobile.
Stories and tall tales abound concerning cooks and cookees -- important persons in any lumber camp, large or small.
Success at riding a bike mirrored success in life. Bicycling could bring families together. Bicycling was good for one's health. Bicycling was fun. Bicycles could go fast. Such were some of the arguments made to induce many thousands of people around Maine and the nation to take up the new pastime at the end of the nineteenth century.
Most societies have had rituals or times set aside to honor ancestors, those who have died and have paved the way for the living. Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, is the day Americans have set aside for such remembrances.
While numerous Mainers worked for and against woman suffrage in the state in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, some also worked on the national level, seeking a federal amendment to allow women the right to vote
For one hundred years, Acadia National Park has captured the American imagination and stood as the most recognizable symbol of Maine’s important natural history and identity. This exhibit highlights Maine Memory content relating to Acadia and Mount Desert Island.
Anglo-Americans in northern New England sometimes interpreted their own anxieties about the Wilderness, their faith, and their conflicts with Native Americans as signs that the Devil and his handmaidens, witches, were active in their midst.
Throughout Maine’s history, individuals have worked to improve and expand medical care, not only for the health of those living in Maine, but for many around the world who need care and help.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is best know as a poet, but he also was accomplished in drawing and music. He shared his love of drawing with most of his siblings. They all shared the frequent activity of drawing and painting with their children. The extended family included many professional as well as amateur artists, and several architects.
Adorning oneself to look one's "best" has varied over time, gender, economic class, and by event. Adornments suggest one's sense of identity and one's intent to stand out or fit in.
By the 1900s, numerous fish canneries began operating in Center Harbor, located within the Brooklin community. For over thirty years, these plants were an important factor in the community.
The paper mill on the Penobscot River in South Brewer, which became known as Eastern Fine Paper Co., began as a sawmill in 1884 and grew over the years as an important part of the economy of the region and a large presence in the landscape. Its closing in 2005 affected more than the men and women who lost their jobs.
Industrialist Andrew Carnegie gave grants for 20 libraries in Maine between 1897 and 1912, specifying that the town own the land, set aside funds for maintenance, have room to expand -- and offer library services at no charge.
From a violin prodigy in her early years to an older woman -- mother of two -- struggling financially, Skowhegan native Mary Elise Fellows White remained committed to music, writing, poetry, her extended family -- and living a life that would matter and be remembered.
Elise Fellows White was a violinist from Skowhegan who traveled all over the world to share her music.
Lt. William Burrows and Commander Samuel Blyth, commanders of the USS Enterprise and the HMS Boxer, led their ships and crews in Battle in Muscongus Bay on Sept. 5, 1813. The American ship was victorious, but both captains were killed. Portland staged a large and regal joint burial.
Seavey Piper, a selectman, farmer, landowner, and leader of the Town of Troy in the 1920s through the early 1950s helped establish a town forest on abandoned farm land in Troy. The exhibit details his work over ten years.
From the earliest days of photography doting parents from across Maine sought to capture images of their young children. The studio photographs often reflect the families' images of themselves and their status or desired status.
Santa Claus and evergreens have been common December additions to homes, schools, businesses, and other public places to America since the mid nineteenth century. They are two symbols of the Christian holiday of Christmas whose origins are unrelated to the religious meaning of the day.
Maine's natural resources -- granite, limestone and slate in particular -- along with its excellent ports made it a leader in mining and production of the valuable building materials. Stone work also attracted numerous skilled immigrants.
In 1921, Guy Gannett purchased two competing Portland newspapers, merging them under the Portland Press Herald title. He followed in 1925 with the purchase the Portland Evening Express, which allowed him to combine two passions: photography and aviation.
Agricultural fairs, intended to promote new techniques and better farming methods, have been held since the early 19th century. Before long, entertainments were added to the educational focus of the early fairs.
Thirty-four young Jewish men from Maine died in the service of their country in the two World Wars. This project, including a Maine Memory Network exhibit, is meant to say a little something about some of them. More than just names on a public memorial marker or grave stone, these men were getting started in adult life. They had newly acquired high school and college diplomas, they had friends, families and communities who loved and valued them, and felt the losses of their deaths.
Listen to recordings from the last of the World War II Jewish veterans.
Thirty-four young Jewish men from Maine died in the service of their country in the two World Wars. This project, including a Maine Memory Network exhibit, is meant to say a little something about some of them. More than just names on a public memorial marker or grave stone, these men were getting started in adult life. They had newly acquired high school and college diplomas, they had friends, families and communities who loved and valued them, and felt the losses of their deaths.
At least twenty-three Jewish men from Maine died in the military during World War II. Photographs and other memorabilia are available for fewer than half of them. Read more about them.
Throughout New England, barns attached to houses are fairly common. Why were the buildings connected? What did farmers or families gain by doing this? The phenomenon was captured in the words of a children's song, "Big house, little house, back house, barn," (Thomas C. Hubka Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn, the Connected Farm Buildings of New England, University Press of New England, 1984.)
Maine residents kept pace with the dramatic shift in women’s dress that occurred during the short number of years preceding and immediately following World War I. The long restrictive skirts, stiff collars, body molding corsets and formal behavior of earlier decades quickly faded away and the new straight, dropped waist easy-to-wear clothing gave mobility and freedom of movement in tune with the young independent women of the casual, post-war jazz age generation.
Father John Bapst, a Jesuit, knew little of America or Maine when he arrived in Old Town in 1853 from Switzerland. He built churches and defended Roman Catholics against Know-Nothing activists, who tarred and feathered the priest in Ellsworth in 1854.
Father Sebastien Rasle, a French Jesuit, ran a mission for Indians at Norridgewock and, many English settlers believed, encouraged Indian resistance to English settlement. He was killed in a raid on the mission in 1724 that resulted in the remaining Indians fleeing for Canada.
Like many towns, Bethel responded to the Civil War by sending many soldiers and those at the homefront sent aid and supported families. The town grew during the war, but suffered after its end.
Many different types of trolley cars -- for different weather, different uses, and different locations -- were in use in Maine between 1895-1940. The "field guide" explains what each type looked like and how it was used.
Maine has some 17 million acres of forest land. But even on a smaller, more local scale, trees have been an important part of the landscape. In many communities, tree-lined commercial and residential streets are a dominant feature of photographs of the communities.
More than 9,000 Maine soldiers and sailors died during the Civil War while serving with Union forces. This exhibit tells the stories of a few of those men.
French Canadians who emigrated to the Lewiston-Auburn area faced discrimination as children and adults -- such as living in "Little Canada" tenements and being ridiculed for speaking French -- but also adapted to their new lives and sustained many cultural traditions.
George F. Shepley of Portland had achieved renown as a lawyer and as U.S. Attorney for Maine when, at age 42 he formed the 12th Maine Infantry and went off to war. Shepley became military governor of Louisiana early in 1862 and remained in the military for the duration of the war.
George W. Hinckley wanted to help needy boys. The farm, school and home he ran for nearly sixty nears near Fairfield stressed home, religion, education, discipline, industry, and recreation.
According to legend, the Great Spirit created Gluskabe, who shaped the world of the Native People of Maine, and taught them how to use and respect the land and the resources around them. This exhibit celebrates the gifts of Gluskabe with Maine Indian art works from the early nineteenth to mid twentieth centuries.
Cultures from the ancient Greeks and Chinese to contemporary societies have set aside time to give thanks, especially for the harvest. In 1941, the United States set a permanent date for the observance.
Creation and other cultural tales are important to framing a culture's beliefs and values -- and passing those on. The Wabanaki -- Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot -- Indians of Maine and Nova Scotia tell stories of a cultural hero/creator, a giant who lived among them and who promised to return.
The landscape at the Good Will-Hinckley campus in Fairfield was designed to help educate and influence the orphans and other needy children at the school and home.
Graduations -- and schools -- in the 19th through the first decade of the 20th century often were small affairs and sometimes featured student presentations that demonstrated what they had learned. They were not necessarily held in May or June, what later became the standard "end of the school year."
The Preble House, built in 1827 on a hilltop over Preble Cove on Great Cranberry Island, was the home to several generations of Hadlock, Preble, and Spurling family members -- and featured in several books.
In 1954, November 11 became known as Veterans Day, a time to honor American veterans of all wars. The holiday originated, however, as a way to memorialize the end of World War I, November 11, 1918, and to "perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations." Mainers were involved in World War I as soldiers, nurses, and workers on the homefront aiding the military effort.
Black soldiers served in Maine during World War II, assigned in small numbers throughout the state to guard Grand Trunk rail lines from a possible German attack. The soldiers, who lived in railroad cars near their posts often interacted with local residents.
The gunpowder mills at Gambo Falls in Windham and Gorham produced about a quarter of the gunpowder used by Union forces during the Civil War. The complex contained as many as 50 buildings.
The eight issues of South Freeport's handwritten newspaper, distributed in 1859, provided "general interest and amusement" to the coastal community.
2009 marked the bicentennials of the births of Abraham Lincoln and his first vice president, Hannibal Hamlin of Maine. To observe the anniversary, Paris Hill, where Hamlin was born and raised, honored the native statesman and recalled both his early life in the community and the mark he made on Maine and the nation.
Through a chance meeting, Harry Lyon of Paris Hill became the navigator on the 1928 flight of the Southern Cross, the first trans-Pacific flight. His skill as a navigator, despite his lack of experience, was a key factor on the flight's success.
During the second half of the 19th century, "Hermann Kotzschmar" was a familiar household name in Portland. He spent 59 years in his adopted city as a teacher, choral conductor, concert artist, and church organist.
Melting snow, ice, warmer temperatures, and rain sometimes bring floods to Maine's many rivers and streams. Floods are most frequent in the spring, but can occur at any season.
In 1873, a group of men, mostly from Portland, formed the second known hiking club in the U.S., the White Mountain Club of Portland, to carry out their scientific interests, their love of hiking and camaraderie, and their artistic interests in painting and drawing the features of several of the White Mountains.
Street railways, whether horse-drawn or electric, required the building of trestles and tracks. The new form of transportation aided industry, workers, vacationers, and other travelers.
Learn about Native diplomacy and obligation by exploring 13,000 years of Wabanaki residence in Maine through 17th century treaties, historic items, and contemporary artworks—from ash baskets to high fashion. Wabanaki voices contextualize present-day relevance and repercussions of 400 years of shared histories between Wabanakis and settlers to their region.
Letters to and from Sebago soldiers who served in the Civil War show concern on both sides about farms and other issues at home as well as concern from the home front about soldiers' well-being.
The Wadsworth-Longfellow house is the oldest building on the Portland peninsula, the first historic site in Maine, a National Historic Landmark, home to three generations of Wadsworth and Longfellow family members -- including the boyhood home of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The history of the house and its inhabitants provide a unique view of the growth and changes of Portland -- as well as of the immediate surroundings of the home.
Horace W. Shaylor, a native of Ohio, settled in Portland and turned his focus to handwriting, developing several unique books of handwriting instruction. He also was a talented artist.
Desserts have always been a special treat. For centuries, Mainers have enjoyed something sweet as a nice conclusion to a meal or celebrate a special occasion. But many things have changed over the years: how cooks learn to make desserts, what foods and tools were available, what was important to people.
Maine's ample woods historically provided numerous game animals and birds for hunters seeking food, fur, or hides. The promotion of hunting as tourism and concerns about conservation toward the end of the nineteenth century changed the nature of hunting in Maine.
Maine's frozen rivers and lakes provided an economic opportunity. The state shipped thousands of tons of ice to ports along the East Coast and to the West Indies that workers had cut and packed in sawdust for shipment or later use.
One surviving letter from the family of Francis Pratt to the young man who was in Canada in 1865 suggests that going to Canada to escape military service during the Civil War was not unheard of. The letter also suggests money was removed to Canada to protect it.
"In Time and Eternity: Maine Shakers in the Industrial Age 1872-1918" is a series of images that depict in detail the Shakers in Maine during a little explored time period of expansion and change.
Hannah Pierce (1788-1873) of West Baldwin, who remained single, was the educated daughter of a moderately wealthy landowner and businessman. She stayed at the family farm throughout her life, operating the farm and her various investments -- always in close touch with her siblings.
Passamaquoddy Indians from Washington County traveled to Portland in 1920 to take part in the Maine Centennial Exposition. They set up an "Indian Village" at Deering Oaks Park.
When Europeans arrived in North America and disrupted traditional Native American patterns of life, they also offered other opportunities: trade goods for furs. The fur trade had mixed results for the Wabanaki.
With the popularity of all things Irish in modern America, many people have forgotten the difficulties faced by nineteenth century Irish immigrants.
Many of the dockworkers -- longshoremen -- in Portland were Irish or of Irish descent. The Irish language was spoken on the docks and Irish traditions followed, including that of giving nicknames to the workers, many of whose given names were similar.
John A. Poor's determination in 1845 to bring rail service to Maine and to make Portland the winter port for Montreal, along with the steel foundry he started to build locomotives and many other products, helped boost the economy of Portland the state.
Since 1897, the Jameson & Wotton Wharf in Friendship has been an important addition to the community on Muscongus Bay. The wharf, which is accessible at all tides, was a steamboat stop for many years, as well as important to the lobster business.
Alvin Record and Hugh J. Chisholm were instrumental in building paper mills in Jay, Livermore, and Livermore Falls. The two industrialists helped make the towns prosperous.
Like other immigrant groups, Jews came to Maine to make a living and enjoy the natural and cultural environment. Their experiences have been shaped by their occupational choices, Jewish values and, until recently, experiences of anti-Semitism.
John Bapst High School was dedicated in September 1928 to meet the expanding needs of Roman Catholic education in the Bangor area. The co-educational school operated until 1980, when the diocese closed it due to decreasing enrollment. Since then, it has been a private school known as John Bapst Memorial High School.
John Warner Grigg Dunn was an accomplished amateur photographer, hunter, fisherman and lover of nature. On his trips to Ragged Lake and environs, he became an early innovator among amateur wildlife photographers. His photography left us with a unique record of the Moosehead Lake region in the late nineteenth century.
The president of the Continental Congress and the Declaration's most notable signatory, John Hancock, has ties to Maine through politics, and commercial businesses, substantial property, vacations, and family.
John P. Sheahan of Dennysville served in the 1st Maine Cavalry from August 1862 until March 1864 when he was commissioned as a lieutenant in Co. E of the 31st Maine Infantry. His letters reveal much about the life of a soldier, including political views and thoughts about the war.
John Y. Merrill of Leeds (1823-1898) made terse entries in diaries he kept for 11 years. His few words still provide a glimpse into the life of a mid 18th century farmer, who also made shoes, quarried stone, moved barns, made healing salves -- and was active in civic affairs.
A fire and two men whose lives were entwined for more than 50 years resulted in what is now considered to be "the Jewel of Portland" -- the Austin organ that was given to the city of Portland in 1912.
The Gilman Street building began its life in 1913 as Waterville High School, but served from 1978 to 1986 as the campus of Kennebec Valley Vocational Technical Institute. The building helped the school create a sense of community and an identity.
Workers in Maine have labored in factories, on farms, in the woods, on the water, among other locales. Many of Maine's occupations have been determined by the state's climate and geographical features.
The landmark 1980 Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act provided $81.6 million to Maine Indians for economic development, land purchase and other purposes. The money and increased land holdings, however, have not solved economic and employment issues for Maine Indians.
The Doris Hamlin, a four-masted schooner built at the Frye-Flynn Shipyard in Harrington, was one of the last vessels launched there, marking the decline of a once vigorous shipbuilding industry in Washington County.
At Lexington and Concord, on April 19, 1775, British troops attempted to destroy munitions stored by American colonists. The battles were the opening salvos of the American Revolution. Shortly, the conflict would erupt in Maine.
Captain George Tate, mast agent for the King of England from 1751 to the Revolutionary War, and his descendants helped shape the development of Portland (first known as Falmouth) through activities such as commerce, shipping, and real estate.
Lillian Norton, known as Nordica, was one of the best known sopranos in America and the world at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. She was a native of Farmington.
Correspondence between Elizabeth Wadsworth, her father Peleg Wadsworth and Martha Washington's secretary about the gift of a lock of George Washington's hair to Eliza.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a man and a poet of New England conscience. He was influenced by his ancestry and his Portland boyhood home and experience.
Maine, the most heavily forested state in the nation, had the first continuously operational fire lookout tower, beginning a system of fire prevention that lasted much of the twentieth century.
The son of Maine's surgeon general and nephew of a captain in the 16th Maine, Charles A. Garcelon of Lewiston served in Co. I of the 16th Maine. His letters home in the first 17 months of his service express his reflections on war and his place in it.
Sgt. Charles Bridges of Co. B of the 2nd Maine Infantry was close to the end of his two years' enlistment in early 1863 when he took advantage of an opportunity for advancement by seeking and getting a commission as an officer in the 3rd Regiment U.S. (Colored) Volunteers.
From the last decades of the nineteenth century through about the 1920s, vacationers were attracted to large resort hotels that promised a break from the noise, crowds, and pressures of an ever-urbanizing country.
The small town of Andover landed on the international map in 1962 when the Earth Station that had been built there successfully communicated with Telstar, the first telecommunications satellite.
From Maine's iconic lobsters, blueberries, potatoes, apples, and maple syrup, to local favorites like poutine, baked beans, red hot dogs, Italian sandwiches, and Whoopie Pies, Maine's identity and economy are inextricably linked to food. Sourcing food, preparing food, and eating food are all part of the heartbeat of Maine's culture and economy. Now, a food revolution is taking us back to our roots in Maine: to the traditional sources, preparation, and pleasures of eating food that have sustained Mainers for millennia.
From the early days of Maine statehood to the present, countless Maine politicians have made names for themselves on the national stage.
Photographers from the Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co. of Belfast traveled throughout the state, especially in small communities, taking images for postcards. Many of these images, taken in the first three decades of the twentieth century, capture Main Streets on the brink of modernity.
From chocolate to taffy, Mainers are inventive with our sweet treats. In addition to feeding our sweet tooth, it's also an economic driver for the state.
George French, a native of Kezar Falls and graduate of Bates College, worked at several jobs before turning to photography as his career. He served for many years as photographer for the Maine Development Commission, taking pictures intended to promote both development and tourism.
The War was not going well for the Union and in the summer of 1862, when President Lincoln called for an additional 300,000 troops, it was not a surprise to see so many men enlist in an attempt to bring proper leadership into the Army.
The mainspring of fashion is the process whereby members of one class imitate the styles of another, who in turn are driven to ever new expedients of fashionable change.
Paper has shaped Maine's economy, molded individual and community identities, and impacted the environment throughout Maine. When Hugh Chisholm opened the Otis Falls Pulp Company in Jay in 1888, the mill was one of the most modern paper-making facilities in the country, and was connected to national and global markets. For the next century, Maine was an international leader in the manufacture of pulp and paper.
When she announced her candidacy for President in January 1964, three-term Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith became the first woman to seek the nomination of one of the two major political parties.
Two women thinking intruders were coming into their Biddeford Pool home, let the dog out to chase them away. Later, they discovered the truth about the noise at their door.
Three cemeteries -- all of which were in Westbrook during the Civil War -- contain headstones of Civil War soldiers. The inscriptions and embellishments on the stones offer insight into sentiments of the eras when the soldiers died.
Meshach P. Larry, a Windham blacksmith, joined Maine's 17th Regiment Company H on August 18, 1862. Larry and his sister, Phebe, wrote to each other frequently during the Civil War, and his letters paint a vivid picture of the life of a soldier.
Maine supplied a huge number of soldiers to the Union Army during the Civil War -- some 70,000 -- and responded after the war by building monuments to soldiers who had served and soldiers who had died in the epic American struggle.
After the canoe, steamboats became the favored method of transportation on Moosehead Lake. They revolutionized movement of logs and helped promote tourism in the region.
A Portland newspaper wrote about an ice storm of January 28, 1886 saying, "The city of Portland was visited yesterday by the most inconvenient storm of the season."
The Cornelius Tarbox, Jr. House, a well-preserved Greek Revival house on Westport Island, has a mystery contained within--a panoramic narrative mural. The floor-to-ceiling mural contains eight painted panels that create a colorful coastal seascape which extends through the front hallway and up the stairwell. The name of the itinerant painter has been lost over time, can you help us solve the mystery of who he or she was?
In Maine, like many other states, a newly formed Ku Klux Klan organization began recruiting members in the years just before the United States entered World War I. A message of patriotism and cautions about immigrants and non-Protestants drew many thousands of members into the secret organization in the early 1920s. By the end of the decade, the group was largely gone from Maine.
Little Chebeague Island in Casco Bay was home to recreational facilities and a firefighting school for WWII sailors. The school was part of a Navy effort to have non-firefighting personnel knowledgeable in dealing with shipboard fires.
Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Wiscasset generated electricity from 1972 until 1996. Activists concerned about the plant's safety led three unsuccessful referendum campaigns in the 1980s to shut it down.
In 1892 five physicians -- William H. Simmons, William C. Mason, Walter H. Hunt, Everett T. Nealey, and William E. Baxter -- realized the need for a hospital in the city of Bangor had become urgent and they set about providing one.
Many of the one-room schoolhouses in Otisfield, constructed from 1839 through the early twentieth century, are featured here. The photos, most of which also show teachers and children, were taken between 1898 and 1998.
Two couples, a parade from downtown Caribou to the airfield, and two airplane flights were the scene in 1930 when the couples each took off in a single-engine plane to tie the knot high over Aroostook County.
Imagery on letterhead soldiers used, on soldiers' memorials produced after the war, and on many other items captured the themes of the American Civil War: union, liberty, and freedom.
Post office clerks began collecting strong red, white, and blue string, rolling it onto a ball and passing it on to the next post office to express their support for the Union effort in the Civil War. Accompanying the ball was this paper scroll on which the clerks wrote messages and sometimes drew images.
Informal family photos often include family pets -- but formal, studio portraits and paintings also often feature one person and one pet, in formal attire and pose.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's popularity in the 19th century is reflected by the number of images of him -- in a variety of media -- that were produced and reproduced, some to go with published works of his, but many to be sold to the public on cards and postcards.
Street artist Pigeon's artwork tackles the multifaceted topic of immigration. He portrays Maine residents, some who are asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants—people who are often marginalized through state and federal policies—to ask questions about the dynamics of power in society, and who gets to call themselves a “Mainer.”
During the Gilded Age at the end of the nineteenth century, Americans sought to leave increasing urban, industrialized lives for the health and relaxation of the country. The Poland Spring resort, which offered a beautiful setting, healing waters, and many amenities, was one popular destination.
George Popham and a group of fellow Englishmen arrived at the mouth of the Kennebec River, hoping to trade with Native Americans, find gold and other valuable minerals, and discover a Northwest passage. In 18 months, the fledgling colony was gone.
The collector of Portland was the key to federal patronage in Maine, though other ports and towns had collectors. Through the 19th century, the revenue was the major source of Federal Government income. As in Colonial times, the person appointed to head the custom House in Casco Bay was almost always a leading community figure, or a well-connected political personage.
Since the establishment of the area's first licensed hotel in 1681, Portland has had a dramatic, grand and boisterous hotel tradition. The Portland hotel industry has in many ways reflected the growth and development of the city itself. As Portland grew with greater numbers of people moving through the city or calling it home, the hotel business expanded to fit the increasing demand.
The National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs (NFBPWC) held their seventh annual convention in Portland during July 12 to July 18, 1925. Over 2,000 working women from around the country visited the city.
In 1893, F.C. Whitehouse of Topsham, who owned paper mills in Topsham and Lisbon Falls, began construction of a third mill on the eastern banks of the Androscoggin River five miles north of Topsham. First, he had to build a dam to harness the river's power.
The Maine School of Practical Nursing opened a facility in Waterville in 1957 and continued teaching practical nursing there until about 1980 when changes in the profession and in the state's educational structure led to its demise.
Several Mainers have run for president or vice president, a number of presidents, past presidents, and future presidents have had ties to the state or visited here, and, during campaign season, many presidential candidates and their family members have brought their campaigns to Maine.
Presque Isle had fewer than 1,000 residents in 1860, but it still felt the impact of the Civil War. About half of the town's men went off to war. Of those, a third died. The effects of the war were widespread in the small community.
Princeton benefited from its location on a river -- the St. Croix -- that was useful for transportation of people and lumber and for powering mills as well as on its proximity to forests.
Mainers have been held prisoners in conflicts fought on Maine and American soil and in those fought overseas. In addition, enemy prisoners from several wars have been brought to Maine soil for the duration of the war.
Federal Prohibition took hold of America in 1920 with the passing of the Volstead Act that banned the sale and consumption of all alcohol in the US. However, Maine had the Temperance movement long before anyone was prohibited from taking part in one of America's most popular past times. Starting in 1851, the struggles between the "drys" and the "wets" of Maine lasted for 82 years, a period of time that was everything but dry and rife with nothing but illegal activity.
Frank Crockett and photographer J.P. Armbrust took stereo views of Rockland's downtown, industry, and notable homes in the 1870s as a way to promote tourism to the town.
Throughout the history of the state, residents have protested, on paper or in the streets, to increase rights for various groups, to effect social change, to prevent social change, or to let their feelings be known about important issues.
Christmas, a Christian holiday observed by many Mainers, has a very public, seasonal face that makes it visible to those of all beliefs.
While many Mainers were averse to accepting federal relief money during the Great Depression of the 1930s, young men eagerly joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, one of President Franklin Roosevelt's most popular programs. The Maine Forest Service supervised the work of many of the camps.
Mainers began propagating fish to stock ponds and lakes in the mid 19th century. The state got into the business in the latter part of the century, first concentrating on Atlantic salmon, then moving into raising other species for stocking rivers, lakes, and ponds.
In the early 1600s, French explorers and colonizers in the New World quickly adopted a Native American mode of transportation to get around during the harsh winter months: the snowshoe. Most Northern societies had some form of snowshoe, but the Native Americans turned it into a highly functional item. French settlers named snowshoes "raquettes" because they resembled the tennis racket then in use.
When Brooklin, located on the Blue Hill Peninsula, was incorporated in 1849, there were ten school districts and nine one-room school houses. As the years went by, population changes affected the location and number of schools in the area. State requirements began to determine ways that student's education would be handled. Regardless, education of the Brooklin students always remained a high priority for the town.
Rebecca Usher of Hollis was 41 and single when she joined the Union nursing service at the U.S. General Hospital at Chester, Pennsylvania. Her time there and later at City Point, Virginia, were defining experiences of her life.
Alanson Mellen "Mellie" Dunham and his wife Emma "Gram" Dunham were well-known musicians throughout Maine and the nation in the early decades of the 20th century. Mellie Dunham also received fame as a snowshoe maker.
Reuben Ruby of Portland operated a hack in the city, using his work to earn a living and to help carry out his activist interests, especially abolition and the Underground Railroad.
Imagine a day 150 years ago. Looking down a side street, you see the buildings are covered with posters and signs.
A number of Rumford area residents played important roles during the Civil War -- and in the community afterwards. Among these are William King Kimball, who commanded the 12th Maine for much of the war.
Samantha Smith, a Manchester schoolgirl, gained international fame in 1983 by asking Soviet leader Yuri Andropov whether he intended to start a nuclear war and then visiting the Soviet Union to be reassured that no one there wanted war.
Settlers' clothing had to be durable and practical to hold up against hard work and winters. From the 1700s to the mid 1800s, the women of Maine learned to sew by making samplers.
Merle Wadleigh of Portland, who was in his mid 20s, took and saved photographs that provide a glimpse into the life of a tuberculosis patient at the Western Maine Sanatorium in Hebron in 1928-1929.
The Sanitary Commission, formed soon after the Civil War began in the spring of 1861, dealt with the health, relief needs, and morale of soldiers and their families. The Maine Agency helped families and soldiers with everything from furloughs to getting new socks.
Sarah Sampson of Bath went to war with her husband, a captain in the 3rd Maine Regiment. With no formal training, she spent the next four and a half years providing nursing and other services to soldiers. Even after her husband became ill and returned to Maine, Sampson remained in the Washington, D.C., area aiding the sick and wounded.
Scarborough met every quota set by the state for supplying Civil War soldiers for Union regiments. Some of those who responded became prominent citizens of the town.
After traveling to the Arctic with Robert E. Peary, Donald B. MacMillan (1874-1970), an explorer, researcher, and lecturer, helped design his own vessel for Arctic exploration, the schooner Bowdoin, which he named after his alma mater. The schooner remains on the seas.
The Proprietors of the Township of Brunswick was a land company formed in 1714 and it set out to settle lands along the Androscoggin and Kennebec Rivers in Maine.
Shaarey Tphiloh was founded in 1904 by immigrants from Eastern Europe. While accommodating to American society, the Orthodox synagogue also has retained many of its traditions.
The boundaries of Maine are the product of international conflict, economic competition, political fights, and contested development. The boundaries are expressions of human values; people determined the shape of Maine.
Shepard Cary (1805-1866) was one of the leading -- and wealthiest -- residents of early Aroostook County. He was a lumberman, merchant, mill operator, and legislator.
Cultivation of silkworms and manufacture of silk thread was touted as a new agricultural boon for Maine in the early 19th century. However, only small-scale silk production followed. In 1874, the Haskell Silk Co. of Westbrook changed that, importing raw silk, and producing silk machine twist threat, then fabrics, until its demise in 1930.
By the second half of the 20th century, skiing began to enjoy unprecedented popularity. Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton (later Shawnee Peak) was Maine's foremost place to join the fun in the 1950s and 1960s.
Mainers, like residents of other states, had differing views about slavery and abolition in the early to mid decades of the 19th century. Religion and economic factors were among the considerations in determining people's leanings.
In 1924, with Portland was on the verge of profound changes, the Tax Assessors Office undertook a project to document every building in the city -- with photographs and detailed information that provide a unique view into Portland's architecture, neighborhoods, industries, and businesses.
William Bayley of Falmouth (Portland) was a soldier in the Continental Army, seeing service at Ticonderoga, Valley Forge, Monmouth Court House, and Saratoga, among other locations. His letters home to his mother reveal much about the economic hardships experienced by both soldiers and those at home.
An enduring element of summer camps is the songs campers sing around the campfire, at meals, and on many other occasions. Some regale the camp experience and others spur the camp's athletes on to victory.
Two shipyards in South Portland, built quickly in 1941 to construct cargo ships for the British and Americans, produced nearly 270 ships in two and a half years. Many of those vessels bore the names of notable Mainers.
St-Jean-Baptiste Day -- June 24th -- in Lewiston-Auburn was a very public display of ethnic pride for nearly a century. Since about 1830, French Canadians had used St. John the Baptist's birthdate as a demonstration of French-Canadian nationalism.
Before the era of recorded music and radio, nearly every community had a band that played at parades and other civic events. Fire departments had bands, military units had bands, theaters had bands. Band music was everywhere.
Alexander Crawford a soldier from Skowhegan, was born in 1839 on a farm on the Dudley Corner Road in Skowhegan. He served in the Civil War and returned to Skowhegan to run the family farm.
Sometime in the 1920s a 700 hundred pound moose fell through the ice, likely between Norridgewock and Skowhegan. She was rescued by a game warden and another man. Here is the story.
Benedict Arnold arrived in Skowhegan on October 4th, 1775, and it was here that Arnold received his first offer of help from the colonists. Joseph Weston and his sons helped Benedict Arnold and his army cross over the Skowhegan Falls, but Joseph later got a severe cold from exposure and died of a fever on Oct.16th. His sons went back to the family home along the Kennebec for they were the first family to settle in Old Canaan or what is now Skowhegan.
In 1842, the new Bloomfield Academy was constructed in Skowhegan. The new brick building replaced the very first Bloomfield Academy, a small wooden building that had been built in 1814 and served as the high school until 1871. After that, it housed elementary school classes until 1980.
The Skowhegan Free Public Library was built in 1889 with money donated by Abner Coburn and the town of Skowhegan. Mr. Coburn left $30,000 in his will towards the building of the library. In 2005, for the library to fully keep up with their programs need to make some renovations. These changes would allow for more use of technology, more room for children's programs, and provide handicap accessibility.
Take a tour and see some of the beautiful old buildings that used to be on Madison Avenue, Skowhegan? A few still remain, but most have been torn down.
Ice Harvesting was a big industry on the Kennebec River. Several million tons of ice could be harvested in a few weeks. In 1886 the Kennebec River topped the million ton on ice production.
I became interested in the Kennebec River log drive when my grandfather would tell me stories. He remembers watching the logs flow down the river from his home in Fairfield, a small town along the Kennebec River.
Inspired by Dr. Greenleaf Wilbur's medical box at the Skowhegan History House, this exhibit highlights some Mainers in the medical field of the past and the stories they had.
Sophie May, whose real name was Rebecca Clarke, was the author of over 40 books between 1861 and 1903. She wrote the "Little Prudy Series" based on the little town of Norridgewock.
A brief history of the Grange in Skowhegan, its importance to community history, and a plea to save it from destruction.
The Somerset Railroad was completed in 1872. It started out as a dream to link the Maine Coast with Canadian businesses to the north. It ran from the North Woods around Moosehead Lake down to Southern Maine and back again for 56 years.
The debate over a proposed bridge and bypass in Skowhegan in 2005.
The story of the Heywood Tavern in Skowhegan.
Maine is home to dozens of summer-long youth camps and untold numbers of day camps that take advantage of water, woods, and fresh air. While the children, counselors, and other staff come to Maine in the summer, the camps live on throughout the year and throughout the lives of many of the campers.
Vacationers, "rusticators," or tourists began flooding into Maine in the last quarter of the 19th century. Many arrived by train or steamer. Eventually, automobiles expanded and changed the tourist trade, and some vacationers bought their own "cottages."
Baseball often is called the National Pastime. For many people, baseball is encountered in the backyard and down the street, a game played by a few or the full contingent of a team.
Alonzo Garcelon of Lewiston was a physician, politician, businessman, and civic leader when he became Maine's surgeon general during the Civil War, responsible for ensuring regiments had surgeons, for setting up a regimental hospital in Portland, and generally concerned with the well-being of Maine soldiers.
Built in 1892 to entice workers at the Cabot Manufacturing Corporation in Brunswick to move to newly built housing in Topsham, the Androscoggin Pedestrian "Swinging" Bridge or Le Petit Pont quickly became important to many people traveling between the two communities.
Frederick Wheeler Hinckley, a Portland lawyer and politician, had grand visions of a 200-home development when he began the Sylvan Site in South Portland in 1917. The stock market crash in 1929 put a halt to his plans, but by then he had built 37, no two of which were alike.
The Taber farm wagon was an innovative design that was popular on New England farms. It made lifting potato barrels onto a wagon easier and made more efficient use of the horse's work. These images glimpse the life work of its inventor, Silas W. Taber of Houlton, and the place of his invention in the farming community
Camden has been home to generations of fishermen, shipbuilders, sailmakers, and others who make their living through the sea. The lives of two Camden sailmakers, who were born nearly a century apart, became entwined at a small house on Limerock Street.
Lewiston, Maine's second largest city, was long looked upon by many as a mill town with grimy smoke stacks, crowded tenements, low-paying jobs, sleazy clubs and little by way of refinement, except for Bates College. Yet, a noted Québec historian, Robert Rumilly, described it as "the French Athens of New England."
For Mainers like many other people in both the North and the South, the Civil War, which lasted from 1861-1865, had a profound effect on their lives. Letters, artifacts, relics, and other items saved by participants at home and on the battlefield help illuminate the nature of the Civil War experience for Mainers.
This collection of images portrays many buildings in Sanford and Springvale. The images were taken around the turn of the twentieth century.
After being part of the town of Bristol for nearly 150 years, residents of South Bristol determined that their interests would be better served by becoming a separate town and they broke away from the large community of Bristol.
Toy Len Goon of Portland, an immigrant from China, was a widow with six children when she was selected in 1952 as America's Mother of the Year.
At the heyday of trolleys in Maine, many of the trolley companies developed recreational facilities along or at the end of trolley lines as one further way to encourage ridership. The parks often had walking paths, dance pavilions, and various other entertainments. Cutting-edge technology came together with a thirst for adventure and forever changed social dynamics in the process.
Trolleys were the cleanest and most efficient means of mass transit Maine has ever known.
Concern about immigrants and their loyalty in the post World War I era led to programs to "Americanize" them -- an effort to help them learn English and otherwise adjust to life in the United States. Clara Soule ran one such program for the Portland Public Schools, hoping it would help the immigrants be accepted.
Visitors to the Maine woods in the early twentieth century often recorded their adventures in private diaries or journals and in photographs. Their remembrances of canoeing, camping, hunting and fishing helped equate Maine with wilderness.
Fewer than 30 copies of the first printing of the Declaration of Independence are known to exist. John Dunlap hurriedly printed copies for distribution to assemblies, conventions, committees and military officers. Authenticating authenticity of the document requires examination of numerous details of the broadside.
Valentines Day cards have long been a way to express feelings of romance or love for family or friends. These early Valentines Day cards suggest the ways in which the expression of those sentiments has changed over time.
The Waldo-Hancock Bridge is in the process of being dismantled after over 70 years of service. The Maine State Archives has a number of records related to the history of this famous bridge that are presented in this exhibition.
While the town of Waldoboro was chartered in 1773, it began organized fire protection in 1838 with a volunteer fire department and a hand pump fire engine, the Water Witch.
Eager to deal with the "Sesech" [Secessionists], young deepwater sailor John Monroe Dillingham of Freeport enlisted in the U.S. Navy as soon as he returned from a long voyage in 1862. His letters and those of his family offer first-hand insight into how one individual viewed the war.
Members of the Washburn family of Livermore participated in the Civil War in a variety of ways -- from Caroline at the homefront, to Samuel at sea, Elihu, as a Congressman from Illinois, and Israel governor of Maine. The family had considerable influence politically on several fronts.
Images taken by itinerant photographers for Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company, a real photo postcard company, provide a unique look at industry, commerce, recreation, tourism, and the communities of Washington County in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Between 1870 and 1911, Waterville more than doubled in size, becoming a center of manufacturing, transportation, and the retail trade and offering a variety of entertainments for its residents.
Following his historic flight across the Atlantic in May 1927, aviator Charles Lindbergh commenced a tour across America, greeted by cheering crowds at every stop. He was a day late for his speaking engagement in Portland, due to foggy conditions. Elise Fellows White wrote in her diary about seeing Lindbergh and his plane.
Farmington's Normal School -- a teacher-training facility -- opened in 1863 and, over the decades, offered academic programs that included such unique features as domestic and child-care training, and extra-curricular activities from athletics to music and theater.
The West Baldwin Methodist Church, founded in 1826, was one of three original churches in Baldwin. While its location has remained the same, the church has undergone numerous changes to serve the changing community.
Westbrook Seminary, built on Stevens Plain in 1831, was founded to educate young men and young women. Seminaries traditionally were a form of advanced secondary education. Westbrook Seminary served an important function in admitting women students, for whom education was less available in the early and mid nineteenth century.
Maine's first governor, William King, was arguably the most influential figure in Maine's achieving statehood in 1820. Although he served just one year as the Governor of Maine, he was instrumental in establishing the new state's constitution and setting up its governmental infrastructure.
As early as 1633, entrepreneurs along the Piscataqua River in southern Maine utilized the force of the river to power a sawmill, recognizing the potential of the area's natural power sources, but it was not until the 1890s that technology made widespread electricity a reality -- and even then, consumers had to be urged to use it.
Scientist, author and explorer Donald B. MacMillan established Wiscasset as his homeport for many of the voyages he made to the Arctic region starting in the early 1920s.
When America entered the Great War in 1917, the government sent out pleas for help from American women, many of whom responded at the battle front and on the home front.
Women at the turn of the 20th century were increasingly involved in paid work outside the home. For wage-earning women in the Old Port section of Portland, the jobs ranged from canning fish and vegetables to setting type. A study done in 1907 found many women did not earn living wages.
Sugarloaf -- a small ski area by European standards -- entered ski racing history in 1971 by hosting an event that was part of the World Cup Alpine Ski Championships. The "Tall Timber Classic," as the event was known, had a decidedly Maine flavor.
With a long history of patriotism and service, Maine experienced the war in a truly distinct way. Its individual experiences tell the story of not only what it means to be an American, but what it means to be from Maine during the war to end all wars.
Named for the two largest things in Maine at the turn of the 20th century, Mt. Katahdin and Granger of Stetson, were known as the Largest Oxen in the World. Unable to do farm work because of their size, they visited fairs and agricultural events around the Northeast.
Published women authors with ties to Maine are too numerous to count. They have made their marks in all types of literature.
On Memorial Day of 1920, the City of Portland planted 100 Linden trees on Forest Avenue, each dedicated to the memory of one military service member who had died in World War I, or who had served honorably.
Yarmouth's "Third Falls" provided the perfect location for papermaking -- and, soon, for producing soda pulp for making paper. At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, Yarmouth was an international leader in soda pulp production.