Photojournalism & the 1936 Flood

Images from Collections of Maine Historical Society/MaineToday Media
Text by Henry Caiazzo

Overnight into Friday, March 13, 1936, heavy rains and unusually warm weather led to dangerous conditions throughout the Northeast. In Maine, melting snow and ice overwhelmed the rivers, flooding towns along the way. The devastation hit western and central Maine hardest, causing an estimated 10 million dollars in damage (equal to about 218 million dollars today) at the height of the Great Depression.

Local newspapers featured the devastation through a relatively new format, the “Picture Record.” While photography was not a new medium, newspapers only began to widely feature photographs after the 1920s. An innovator in the field, Maine’s Guy Gannett highlighted local interest stories, heavily illustrated with photographs.

Photojournalism became a major focus for Gannett, a defining characteristic for his suite of Maine newspaper titles. While not the first to harness the power of illustrating the news, Gannett utilized photography more so than his contemporaries. His passion for aviation added aerial photography to his reporter’s repertoire, capturing news from every angle.

In Photojournalism & the 1936 Flood we examine the devastating 1936 flood through the eyes of newspaper reporters, photographers, and Guy Gannett, one of Maine’s most influential media giants.

Photojournalism & the 1936 Flood (physical exhibit runs from August, 2023-July 2024) was curated by Henry Caiazzo, MHS Digital Archivist & Content Manager, with the support of Maine Historical Society’s Tilly Laskey, Jamie Rice and Sofia Yalouris.

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