Lincoln County through the Eastern Eye

Development of Lincoln County through the Eastern Eye was a broadly collaborative project coordinated by Liz Fitzsimmons. The Penobscot Marine Museum is grateful to the following individuals and organizations in Lincoln County for contributing information and memories for the captions:

Doreen Conboy (Alna); Barbara Rumsey (Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, East Boothbay, Trevett); Sue Clark (Ocean Point); Calvin and Marjorie Dodge (Damariscotta); Eleanor Everson (Dresden); Suzanne O. Carlson (Edgecomb); Marilyn Speckmann, Jefferson Historical Society (Jefferson); Steve Laurich (Medomak); Jennnifer Pye, Monhegan Museum (Monhegan); Pete Hope and Ben Fuller (New Harbor); Donald Duncan (Newagen and Southport); Arlene Cole, Newcastle Historical Society (Newcastle); Mary Sheldon (Damariscotta Mills, Nobleboro); Pete Hope (Round Pond); Kelly Payson-Roopchand (Somerviille);; David Andrews, South Bristol Historical Society (South Bristol); Tom Pears (Squirrel Island); Jean Lawrence (Waldoboro); Cathy Stockwell, South Bristol Historical Society (Walpole); Libby Harmon, Whitefield Historical Society (Whitefield); Peggy Konitzky, Historic New England (Wiscasset)

The Penobscot Marine Museum’s photography collections include nearly 50,000 glass plate negatives of images for "real photo" postcards produced by the Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company of Belfast, Maine. The company, founded by Herman Cassens in 1909, employed photographers who traveled by company vehicle through the New England states and parts of New York State each summer, taking pictures of towns and cities, vacation spots and tourist attractions, working waterfronts and local industries, and other subjects postcard recipients would enjoy seeing. The cards were printed by the millions in Belfast into the 1940s.

While old postcards often evoke nostalgia, today they are important historical records. Maine is particularly well documented in the Eastern collection, and the Penobscot Marine Museum has developed a number of regional and thematic exhibits from it. Lincoln County through the Eastern Eye is one of a continuing series of county exhibits that tell stories about a place’s past. Outreach to local residents and community historians has yielded personal recollections, family connections, and disappearing history, which have enriched the photo captions. Viewers whose memories are stirred as exhibits travel from town to town have opportunities to share that information with the Museum.

Lincoln Country through the Eastern Eye features photographs from towns, tiny communities, and summer colonies, the majority of them taken between about 1910 and the 1920s. Steamers and sloops plied coastal waters and threaded through bays and harbors, around islands and rocky peninsulas. They carried passengers and freight, including inventory for the general stores that were centers of community life. They also brought summer people to the growing number of hotels, boarding houses, resorts, and cottages.

Local residents earned their living by fishing, tending store, or working in boatyards, seafood processing plants, or one of Lincoln County’s few manufacturing industries. New opportunities for work arose as tourism businesses multiplied.

The images in the exhibit are a small sample of Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company photographs that collectively tell a big story about life in Lincoln County a century ago.

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