Keywords: Commencement exercises
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."
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.
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.