Maine Historical Society



Upcoming Programs & Events

Events on this page: April | May | June | July | Ongoing Programs | Podcasts | Annual Trip | Exhibitions | Regional Genealogy Events

Program fees and registration details are listed in the program description. Programs for MHS members are free or discounted. Support MHS by becoming a member today. All programs take place at our facilities at 489 Congress Street in Portland, unless otherwise noted. Click here for Directions or Parking information.

If you have questions about any of the programs listed below, please contact Larissa Vigue Picard, Director of Education & Interpretation, at (207) 774-1822 x215.

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Ongoing Programs

Wadsworth-Longfellow House Tours - Daily, May - October. See details.

Exhibition Galleries (self-guided) - Changing schedule, year-round. See details.

Historical Walking Tours of Portland - Daily, June - Columbus Day weekend. See details.

Library Tours - First Wednesday at noon in January, March, May, July, September, and November. See below for next scheduled tour.

April Programs

Tuesday, April 28 – Tuesday, May 26, 2015

MHS Book Group: Home Is Where the Heart Is

Wadsworth-Longfellow House, ca. 1880 (MMN #5417)

Wadsworth-Longfellow House, ca. 1880 (MMN #5417)

Facilitator: Larissa Vigue Picard, Director of Education

Join us this January through May for our sixth annual MHS reading group--a great opportunity to engage in literary discussions about history and connect with members of the MHS community.

“Home Is Where the Heart Is” takes as its stepping off point the 2014-2015 MHS museum exhibition, Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland. Session readings explore themes of home, family, place, immigration, and community in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry with a historical resonance. There are even a couple haunted houses in the mix!

Books must be acquired on your own and include Tracy Kidder's House, Sarah Waters's The Little Stranger, Terry Farish's The Good Braider, and George Howe Colt's The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home. A number of additional short readings (essays, poetry, and a short story) will be provided as handouts or are available online.

WHEN: Tuesdays 1/27, 2/24, 3/24, 4/28, 5/26 @ 6:30PM
WHERE: MHS Lecture Hall
COST: $20 MHS members / $30 non-members (includes handouts/resources, facilitation, and refreshments)
REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Friday, January 23. Registration is required; space is limited. To sign up, email for a registration form and copy of the full reading list, drop by the MHS museum store to register on-site, or download the registration form and full reading list.

Thursday, April 30, 7:00 pm

The 2015 Olmsted Lecture,
in partnership with the Olmsted Alliance

Skylands: Restoration of a Jens Jensen Landscape

Skylands: Restoration of a Jens Jensen Landscape

Speaker: Patrick Chassé, ASLA

Although known for his work in the Midwest, early 20th century landscape architect Jens Jensen designed a rare landscape in the east: “Skylands” on Mt. Desert Island, Maine. Built as a summer home for Edsel and Eleanor Ford, “Skylands” is now famously owned by Martha Stewart, who uses it throughout the year. When she bought Skylands in 1997, she asked Chassé to help restore and re-design parts of the property to Jensen's standards. This year's Olmsted Lecture highlights--with many images!--Jensen’s approach to a Maine landscape, along with the challenges and compromises of bringing this historic landscape back to its natural concept and glory.

Patrick Chassé, ASLA, is Maine born and bred and holds a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design. Mr. Chassé specializes in historic landscapes, reconstruction of natural plant communities, and design of new gardens, from Mt. Desert Island, Maine, to Istanbul. He was appointed the first Curator of Landscape at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2004, and held that position until the end of 2009. Patrick has been researching the life and work of Beatrix Farrand for more than 35 years, and was instrumental in saving her final home and garden at Garland Farm.

Cost: Free for MHS/Olmsted Alliance members; $15 for non-members. Buy tickets online.

May Programs

Friday, May 1, 5:00 – 8:00 pm

First Friday Art Walk: Sugar and Spice: Our Vintage Recipes

Medical recipe, Maine, ca. 1790. MMN #7572

Medical recipe, Maine, ca. 1790. MMN #7572

Sugar and Spice showcases historic recipes, both handwritten and promotional, from the collections of the Maine Historical Society. Highlighting Maine's eccentric culinary and homeopathic culture, these recipes date from the 18th century to the 1950s, and include sweet treats, savory snacks, medicinal concoctions, curious libations, and even calf's foot jelly.

Our museum exhibition Home: The Longfellow House & the Emergence of Portland and the Wadsworth-Longfellow House will also be open to visitors at no charge. Come see how the House has experienced Portland's growth and change for more than 230 years.

During the Art Walk, the Museum Store will be open late! Free and open to the public.

Wednesday, May 6, 12:00 pm

Intro to MHS: Library Tour

Intro to MHS: Library Tour

Tour Guide: Nicholas Noyes, Curator of Library Collections

This 45-minute tour of the Brown Library, fully renovated in 2009, takes participants throughout the library's reading rooms and behind-the-scenes into the archive, normally closed to the public. Nicholas Noyes covers the history of the building, architectural details, the basics of doing research in the library, and even shares a few treasures from the collection.

(Monthly on the first Wednesday at 12PM in Jan, March, May, July, Sept, Nov.; free; limited to 10. Sign up in advance by sending an email to or call 774-1822 x207.)

Thursday, May 7, 7:00 pm

Presented in partnership with Maine Humanities Council and Portland Public Library
The Civil War in American Memory: Legacies in Our Time

The Civil War in American Memory: Legacies in Our Time

David Blight, Professor of History, Yale University

Location: Rines Auditorium, Portland Public Library

No historical event has left as deep an imprint on America’s collective memory as the Civil War. In the war’s aftermath, Americans had to embrace and cast off a traumatic past. David Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, will explore the perilous path of remembering and forgetting, and reveal its tragic costs to race relations and America’s national reunion. Read a full bio of the speaker.

Professor Blight’s lecture is the culminating public event of a three-year collaboration between Maine Historical Society and Maine Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded Local and Legendary: Maine and the Civil War project.

The lecture is free, but online reservations are required. Reserve your spot now!

Saturday, May 9, 09:30 am – 12:30 pm

Presented in partnership with Northeast Document Conservation Center and Maine Archives and Museums
Preparing Collection Materials for Exhibition

Preparing Collection Materials for Exhibition

Exhibiting library and archival materials is a good way to increase awareness of and support for collections. Presented in partnership with NEDCC and MAM, this workshop introduces safe methods of exhibiting books, manuscripts, and documents. The exhibit environment is covered as well as materials and techniques for mounting collections. Lecture and hands-on components give participants a broader understanding of the challenges inherent in mounting exhibitions.

This workshop is designed for local historical societies, libraries, archives, and museums. Morning refreshments will be served.

Cost is $55 for MHS and MAM members; $60 non-members. Register online or contact Larissa Vigue Picard at or 774-1822 x215 for a paper registration form. Deadline for registering is May 4.

Thursday, May 14, 12:00 pm

Lovewell's Fight

Battle of Lovell's Pond poem, Longfellow, 1820. MMN #18272.

Battle of Lovell's Pond poem, Longfellow, 1820. MMN #18272.

Speaker: Ian Saxine

Ian Saxine, visiting instructor in history at Bates College, reflects on the subject’s of Longfellow’s first published poem, “Lovewell’s Fight,” which took place in western Maine in 1725. Part of the Anglo-Wabanaki war, the battle, though small, became a fixture in local lore and fodder for Maine myth. Longfellow was only 13 years old when he wrote the poem; Native American subjects would become a prominent theme in his work.

Cost: Free for MHS members; $5 non-members. Pay at the door.

Tuesday, May 19, 12:00 pm

Book Event: The Franco Americans of Lewiston-Auburn

Actresses, Lewiston, 1896. MMN #18873. Courtesy Franco-American Collection.

Actresses, Lewiston, 1896. MMN #18873. Courtesy Franco-American Collection.

Speaker: James Myall

James Myall, former director of the Franco-American Collection at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn Campus, co-authored this book with Mary Rice DeFosse, a French professor at Bates College. Myall joins us to talk about his research and experience writing the book, which focuses on the challenges and pride of the Franco community in the Twin Cities over the past 150 years.

Cost: Free for MHS members; $5 non-members. Pay at the door.

Thursday, May 21, 5:30 pm

Mad Men, Mad Fashions: Into the MHS Collections

Mad Men, Mad Fashions: Into the MHS Collections

Host: Kate McBrien, MHS Chief Curator

The first in a series of new curator-led programs sharing treasures from the MHS collections.

Mad Men may have just ended for good, but you can relive the entire era with this sneak peek into our 1960s clothing collection! From sharp suits to a-line dresses and beyond, you'll get to see items that are rarely on public view and hear about the wide-ranging fashion trends of the decade. Plus, we'll have kitschy snacks and classy cocktails to make you think Don Draper is just off in the next room.

Cost: $25 MHS members / $30 non-members. Reserve tickets online.

Thursday, May 28, 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Personal and Family Histories: Encouragement and Ideas

Personal and Family Histories: Encouragement and Ideas

Speaker: Katie Murphy, Univoice History

Have you ever wanted to undertake a family history project but don’t know where to start? Do you have family stories, photos, and letters? Maybe you've done some genealogy, dabbled with memoir writing, or are just anxious to record those great family stories before they are lost. In this 90-minute presentation, which includes an interactive exercise, Katie Murphy will talk about how to get started and why recording your family and personal history is an invaluable experience for numerous reasons. Join us for a fun, informative, and motivating evening! Refreshments will be served.

Cost: $10 for MHS members; $15 non-members. Reserve tickets online.

June Programs

Saturday, June 13, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Genealogy 101 Workshop: How to Begin

Genealogy 101 Workshop: How to Begin

Facilitator: Jamie Rice, MHS Library Director

Have you never really done any formal genealogy but are itching to get started? Are you wondering how to organize your research and what resources exist out there? This three-hour, hands-on workshop is geared toward you--the genealogy novice!

Learn about resources at Maine Historical Society, as well as numerous tips on getting started or diving deeper into current Maine / New England genealogy projects. We'll familiarize you with the wide variety of research options out there. Participants are encouraged to bring current family trees, research notes, and laptops to explore electronic resources including, Heritage Quest Online, and American Ancestors.

Cost: $35 MHS Members; $45 non-members. Space is limited to 10 participants, so don't delay! Register today. Morning refreshments included.

Note: Intermediate and advanced researchers may wish to take advantage of a "Genealogy 201: Brick Walls & Missing Persons" event coming up on September 26. This day-long event will feature one-on-one appointments with experienced genealogists and librarians who can assist with specific stumbling blocks and individual queries. Stay tuned for more information!

July Programs

Saturday, July 4, 12:00 pm

Celebrate the 4th of July!
A Public Reading--and DISPLAY--of the Declaration of Independence

A Public Reading--and DISPLAY--of the Declaration of Independence

With Former State Representative Herb Adams

Join MHS to celebrate the Fourth of July with a public reading, by former State Representative Herb Adams, of the Declaration of Independence in front of the Longfellow House at 489 Congress Street. Lemonade and cookies will be served following the reading, which is free.

This great annual tradition features two extra special additions this year:

First is the Shettleworth Lecture Hall exhibition "Pursuit of Liberty: The Search for Compromise in the Declaration of Independence," featuring MHS's copy of the 1776 Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration and items from MHS's Fogg Collection relating to various signers of the Declaration. The Dunlap is one of only 26 surviving copies. See and zoom into Maine Historical's copy online.

Second is the "Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy, 1215-2015" traveling exhibition, sponsored by the American Bar Association and curated by the Library of Congress, in the Brown Library's second floor reading room. The Magna Carta exhibition shares the historical and contemporary relevance of this foundational document.

Viewing of the "Pursuit of Liberty" and "Magna Carta" exhibitions is included in our regular museum gallery admission. Exhibitions are on display from 10AM - 2PM on July 4. For more information about both exhibitions and the full list of hours for each, see our Exhibitions page.

Monday, July 6 – Friday, July 10, 2015

Junior Docent Camp

Junior Docent Camp

WHO: For students entering 3rd-5th grades
WHEN: Monday, July 6 - Friday, July 10: 9 AM-1 PM
COST: $100 per student from MHS member families/$125 per student from non-member families

Ever wonder what life was like before video games? Looking for a chance to step back in time? Want to be a history detective? Then Junior Docent Camp at MHS is for you!

Participants in Junior Docent Camp will explore life in 18th and 19th century Portland and go behind the scenes of Maine's oldest historic house museum. The camp is based at the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, the boyhood home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The mix of indoor and outdoor activities will include 19th century games, gardening, crafts, cooking, and story telling. We will learn how Henry and his siblings played, dined, studied, cleaned up, and even got into trouble!

Participants will have the opportunity to meet with librarians and museum staff, and conduct research on a topic or object of their choice. At the end of the week, all participants will be fully trained and prepared to give a tour of the house to family members and guests of their choice. After the tour, families and campers are encouraged to join us in the Longfellow Garden for a brown bag lunch and Henry's favorite treat!

Slots are limited. Deadline for registering: June 29. To register or request more information, contact Kathleen Neumann, Manager of Student and Interpretative Programs, at or (207) 774-1822 ext. 214.

Saturday, July 11

Maine Genealogical Society Fair

The Maine Genealogical Society and the Maine State Library are teaming up to host the Maine Genealogical Society Fair at the Cultural Building in Augusta, ME on Saturday July 11, 2015. Admission is free and open to the public. Visitors will have an opportunity to meet with genealogical repositories from around the state. "A panel of professional genealogists will be on-hand for a Brickwall Busters workshop where attendees can get expert advice on tracking down elusive ancestors.  Staff from the Maine State Library and Maine State Archives will provide information on genealogy collections held by the State of Maine and the Maine State Museum will have free admission all day." The Maine Historical Society will be represented by members of the Brown Library staff. For more information, please visit the Maine Genealogical Society website.

Monday, July 27 – Friday, July 31, 2015

Junior Historian Camp

Junior Historian Camp

WHO: For students entering 6th-8th grades
WHEN: Monday, July 27 - Friday, July 31: 9 AM-1 PM
COST: $100 per student from MHS member families/$125 per student from non-member families

Ever wonder what it would be like to hang out in a museum and center of history? Would you like to search for and uncover clues in old photos, letters, maps, objects, and other items from the past? Want to see and learn about amazing things that few people get to see?

Participants in the Junior Historian Camp will have the chance to go behind the scenes in the third oldest historical society in the country--consisting of a historic house, a museum, a research library, and many work and storage spaces few members of the public get to see. They'll sharpen their detective skills by doing hands-on investigation in the collections, and using primary sources to conduct original research on a topic of Maine history of their choice.

Participants will meet and work with a variety of staff including curators, librarians, educators, and facilities staff. At the end of the week, all participants will share their newfound investigative and research skills in a presentation for family members and guests. After the presentation, families and campers are encouraged to join us in the Longfellow Garden for a brown bag lunch and celebration!

Slots are limited. Deadline for registering: July 20. To register or request more information, contact Kathleen Neumann, Manager of Student and Interpretative Programs, at or (207) 774-1822 ext. 214.

Program Podcasts

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Annual Cruise - SOLD OUT - Call for Wait List

CRUISE - Elegant Elbe, River Cruisetour - Berlin to Prague
October 8 - October 21, 2015

Join MHS as we discover the natural beauty of former East Germany's dramatic landscape on a 13-day Elbe River cruise with Maine Historical Society. Start in Berlin and move on to tour the opulent palaces of Saxon monarchs and stroll through beautifully landscaped gardens; sail between the dramatic sandstone cliffs of Germany's "Saxon Switzerland." Get Trip Details.
Find out more about Viking River Cruises.


exhibit graphic
Morton Block and Wadsworth-Longfellow House, ca. 1912

Home: The Longfellow House & the Emergence of Portland
Opens June 27, 2014

Home: The Longfellow House & the Emergence of Portland uses the Wadsworth-Longfellow House as a prism to explore how Portland has grown and changed over more than 230 years. It's a fascinating new way to look at the House, its relationship to the community, and Portland history. Read More.


Medical recipe, late 1700s

Sugar and Spice: Our Vintage Recipes
March 6- May 31, 2015
Opening reception: March 6, 5-8pm during the Art Walk

From the handwritten to the promotional, this exhibit showcases historic recipes from the collections of the Maine Historical Society. Sponsored by Rabelais - Fine books on Food & Drink. Read More


Maine Memory Network

Offers online access to numerous Web–based exhibits and a constantly growing collection of nearly 45,000 historical documents, images, and objects contributed by more than 270 organizations around Maine. New exhibits added regularly. Go to

Regional Genealogy Programs, Events, and Conferences

Find out about regional conferences and other family history instruction and workshops.