Maine Historical Society

MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

PRESERVING HISTORY
ENGAGING MINDS
CONNECTING MAINE

Upcoming Programs & Events at the Maine Historical Society

Events on this page: March | April | May | Ongoing & Family Programs | Annual Trip | Exhibitions | Registration | Podcasts

As of May 1, most public programs will carry a ticket price for non-MHS members. MHS members receive free or discounted admission. Fees are listed in the program description. Programs take place at our facilities at 489 Congress Street in Portland, unless otherwise noted.

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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March Programs

Tuesday, March 17, 12:00 pm

Telegraph: The Victorian Twitter

Willowbrook Telegraph Machines

Willowbrook Telegraph Machines

Speakers: Charles Kaufman and Robert Schmick

Charles "Chip" Kaufman, Director of the Longfellow Chorus, and Bob Schmick, Director of 19th Century Willowbrook, demonstrate and discuss the history of the telegraph with regard to musical compositions. The lecture precedes a concert by the Longfellow Chorus Orchestra on Saturday, March 21, at 4PM, at Portland High School. At that concert, titled "Music from the Gilded Age: Harvard's Boston Theatre Orchestra Collection," one of the pieces on the program is the "Telegraph Polka," composed in 1870, which calls for an actual telegraph machine to be used as a percussion instrument.

The lecture includes other samples of concert pieces including the Irish favorite, "Come Back to Erin" (in light of St. Patrick's Day), a hunting song using percussion and piccolos to represent gunshots and birds, and the "Velocipede Galop," for which Schmick will show off a 1870s-era specimen from Willowbrook. (Velocipede is a collective term for forerunners of wheeled, human-powered vehicles). At the concert, that piece will be performed with a unicycle routine by Scarborough's Gym Dandies circus group.

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

Saturday, March 21, 10:00 am

The Children's Hour: Story & Craft Activity for Kids

The Children's Hour: Story & Craft Activity for Kids

Facilitator: Kathleen Neumann, Manager of School and Interpretative Programs

Between the dark and the daylight, / When the night is beginning to lower, / Comes a pause in the day's occupations, / That is known as the Children's Hour… -- from "The Children’s Hour" Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1863

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was often called “the children’s poet” and his love of children is still well remembered. Maine Historical Society invites children ages 4-9 to celebrate reading and literature at Longfellow’s childhood home with an hour-long program called The Children’s Hour. The program begins with a read-aloud of a favorite children’s book, followed by a fun craft-making activity inspired by the story.

March's book is A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins. The craft is making the recipe "Blackberry Fool," which is featured in the book. The book connects to MHS's lecture hall exhibition, Sugar and Spice: Our Vintage Recipes, which is up from March 6 - May 31. Children will have the opportunity to view the exhibition, which features historic Maine recipes including sweet treats, snacks, medicinal concoctions, and other fun surprises.

The Children's Hour program is free and refreshments are served. Participating children must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver; check-in at the Museum Store. Space is limited. Please call or email the Manager of School and Interpretative Programs the Friday before the program to reserve a spot: 207-774-1822, x214, kneumann@mainehistory.org.

Tuesday, March 24 – 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 lvpicard@mainehistory.org 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, March 26, 7:00 pm

Presented in partnership with Maine Women Writers Collection, University of New England
Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother

Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother

Speaker: Eve LaPlante

Award-winning biographer Eve LaPlante joins us to celebrate Women's History Month with a talk about Longfellow contemporary Louisa May Alcott and the intellectual and emotional center of her world--her mother. LaPlante's dual biography on the mother and daughter was named by NPR as one of the 10 best books of 2012.

Alcott was one of the most successful and bestselling authors of her day, earning more than any of her male contemporaries. Her classic Little Women has been a mainstay in American literature since its release nearly 150 years ago. Biographers have consistently attributed Louisa’s uncommon success to her father, Bronson Alcott, assuming that this outspoken idealist was the source of his daughter’s progressive thinking and remarkable independence. Eve LaPlante explodes these myths, showing that it was Louisa’s actual “Marmee,” Abigail May Alcott. Abigail, whose difficult life both inspired and served as a warning to her devoted daughters, pushed Louisa to excel at writing and to chase her unconventional dreams in a male-dominated world.

A New Englander with degrees from Princeton and Harvard, LaPlante has published articles, essays, and five nonfiction books. Her ancestor biographies “have been praised,” according to the Boston Book Festival, “as reminiscent of a more celebratory Nathaniel Hawthorne.” Salem Witch Judge, about the 1692 judge, and LaPlante ancestor, who became an abolitionist and feminist, won the 2008 Massachusetts Book Award for Nonfiction. LaPlante is also a cousin of Louisa May Alcott and a great-niece of Abigail May Alcott. She resides in New England with her husband and four children.

Cost: Free for MHS members; $8 for non-members. Pay at the door.

Tuesday, March 31, 12:00 pm

Book Event: At the Point of a Cutlass: The Pirate Capture, Bold Escape, and Lonely Exile of Philip Ashton

Book Event: At the Point of a Cutlass: The Pirate Capture, Bold Escape, and Lonely Exile of Philip Ashton

Speaker: Gregory Flemming

Based on a rare manuscript from 1725, At the Point of a Cutlass uncovers the amazing voyage of Philip Ashton--a 19-year old fisherman who was captured by pirates, escaped on an uninhabited Caribbean island, and then miraculously arrived back home three years later to tell his incredible story. Drawn from Ashton’s own first-person account, as well as logbooks, trial records, and new archival evidence, the book opens a fascinating window into the world of a pirate ship and the daring life of a castaway nearly three hundred years ago. The Boston Globe says it “delivers blood-thirsty pirates and plenty of action and excitement on the high seas. ...In Ashton’s story, Flemming struck it rich.”

Greg Flemming is a former journalist with a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A New England native, he is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire. He lives with his family in New England. During the talk, Flemming will discuss a diary he discovered in MHS’s Brown Library that contributed to his research.

Cost: Free for MHS members; $5 non-members.

April Programs

Monday, April 6, 5:00 – 7:00 pm

Local History Local Schools Celebration: Ocean Avenue Elementary School

Local History Local Schools Celebration: Ocean Avenue Elementary School

Third grade students from Portland's Ocean Avenue Elementary School present the results of their month long Local History Local Schools units of study based on the current MHS gallery exhibition, "Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland." Student work will be on display in the King Conference Room and a short presentation at 5:30PM and reception will take place in the Shettleworth Lecture Hall. Please join us to congratulate these students on their hard work! Free and open to the public.

Local History Local Schools involves in-classroom visits from MHS educators as well as a trip to the MHS exhibition gallery and Wadsworth-Longfellow House; research and art-making; and a family celebration displaying student work in the museum at the project's culmination. Culminating projects are custom-designed for each LHLS group and based on school curriculum.

Thursday, April 9, 5:00 – 7:00 pm

Local History Local Schools Celebration: Ocean Avenue Elementary School

Local History Local Schools Celebration: Ocean Avenue Elementary School

Fifth grade students from Portland's Ocean Avenue Elementary School present the results of their month long Local History Local Schools units of study based on the current MHS gallery exhibition, "Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland." Student work will be on display in the King Conference Room and a short presentation at 5:30PM and reception will take place in the Shettleworth Lecture Hall. Please join us to congratulate these students on their hard work! Free and open to the public.

Local History Local Schools involves in-classroom visits from MHS educators as well as a trip to the MHS exhibition gallery and Wadsworth-Longfellow House; research and art-making; and a family celebration displaying student work in the museum at the project's culmination. Culminating projects are custom-designed for each LHLS group and based on school curriculum.

Saturday, April 11, 08:00 am – 3:30 pm

Presented by Pejepscot Historical Society
Legacies of the Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Conference

Unidentified Topsham resident in Civil War attire, late 19th c. Courtesy Pejepscot Historical Society.

Unidentified Topsham resident in Civil War attire, late 19th c. Courtesy Pejepscot Historical Society.

LOCATION: Morrell Meeting Room, Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant Street, Brunswick

MHS Members eligible for discounted registration fee!

Hosted by Pejepscot Historical Society, Legacies of the Civil War brings to Brunswick expert speakers on a variety of topics related to the enduring impact of the Civil War on American life and culture.

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War draws to a close as of April 12, 2015, five years to the day that a formal ceremony of surrender by the Confederate Army took place at Appomattox Court House. Brunswick's own Joshua Chamberlain participated in that event, presiding over the parade of Confederate infantry as they surrendered their arms and colors, and famously directed the Union troops to “carry arms” as a sign of respect.

Conference speakers include: Crompton B. Burton of Marietta College, who will speak about the 20th Maine; Douglas Egerton of LeMoyne College, who will speak about black activism and Reconstruction in the North; Sarah Handley-Cousins of the University at Buffalo, who will speak about Joshua Chamberlain’s and other Civil War veterans’ non-visible wounds; and Elizabeth Leonard of Colby College, who will speak about the Lincoln assassination and its implications for Reconstruction.

The conference is open to the public, though reservations are required. Reservations may be made by calling Pejepscot Historical Society at 207.729.6606 or by email to info@pejepscothistorical.org. Admission is $30 for Maine Historical Society and Pejepscot Historical Society members, or $35 for the general public. Payment is requested at the time of reservation.

This conference is made possible in part by the Alfred M. Senter Fund and the Brunswick Hotel & Tavern.

Tuesday, April 14, 12:00 pm

Book Event: Voting Down the Rose

Book Event: Voting Down the Rose

Speaker: Anne B. Gass

Anne B. Gass’s Voting Down the Rose is a lively account of Maine native Florence Brooks Whitehouse’s efforts to win women voting rights in the decisive final years of the campaign, 1914-1920. Considered radical for picketing the White House, Florence helped win women suffrage against a backdrop of conservative views of women’s roles, political intrigues, WWI, and the 1918 influenza epidemic. In addition to her suffrage research, Gass runs her own business, ABG Consulting, in which she helps nonprofits and local and state government agencies address issues such as homelessness and affordable housing. Cost: Free to MHS members; $5 non-member. Pay at the door.

Tuesday, April 21, 12:00 pm

Book Event: The Court-Martial of Paul Revere: A Son of Liberty and America's Forgotten Military Disaster

Book Event: The Court-Martial of Paul Revere: A Son of Liberty and America's Forgotten Military Disaster

Speaker: Michael Greenburg

Paul Revere’s only military service was during the failed Penobscot Expedition—a massive military and naval undertaking designed to drive the British from Maine’s coast, in which Peleg Wadsworth played a major role. Revere’s performance as artillery commander was roundly criticized after the Expedition, which held the title of worst naval disaster in U.S. history prior to Pearl Harbor. Author Michael Greenburg’s book is the first to examine in detail Revere’s conduct before, during, and after the Expedition. Cost: Free to MHS members; $5 non-members.

Wednesday, April 22 – Saturday, April 25, 2015

Henry's Boyhood: April Vacation Longfellow House Tour

Henry's Boyhood: April Vacation Longfellow House Tour

Tour Time: 10AM. Program ends by approximately 11:15AM. Tour leaves from museum store.

Bring the family to the Wadsworth-Longfellow House during April vacation for a tour focused specifically on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's childhood in the house, including how he came to publish his first poem at age 13! Participants tour the house through young Henry's eyes, learning about what it was like to be a kid in the 18th century. What did Henry eat? Where did he play? What was his favorite room? Following the tour, kids will participate in a craft relevant to the time period, enjoy some of Henry's favorite snacks, and leave with an illustrated copy of The Children's Hour.

Tours are limited to 12 total people. One ticket covers admission for BOTH adult and child. Cost: $25 MHS Member Adult & Child; $35 Non-member Adult & Child. Buy tickets online. For more information about the tour, contact Kathleen Neumann, Manager of School and Interpretive Programs, at kneumann@mainehistory.org or 774-1822 x214.

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: $5 for MHS/Olmsted Alliance members; $10 for non-members. Buy tickets online.

May Programs

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 lvpicard@mainehistory.org or 774-1822 x215 for a paper registration form. Deadline for registering is May 1.

Ongoing & Family Programs

Historical Walking Tours of Portland

Join MHS for a guided tour to the waterfront highlighting Portland's history, maritime heritage, and authentic character. The tour highlights famous city residents, industries, architecture, historic landmarks, social history, and the Great Fire of 1866. Daily, June 1st—Oct 30th at 1:30pm, weather permitting. Tour size limited: first-come, first-served. Tickets: $10 (children under 6, free; recommended for ages 12 and older); $15 for combo Longfellow House ticket. Call for group bookings.

Library Tours

This 45-minute tour of the Brown Research Library, fully renovated in 2009, takes participants throughout the first floor reading room and behind-the-scenes into the archive, normally closed to the public. Nicholas Noyes, Curator of Library Collections, 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. (First Wednesdays in Jan, March, May, July, Sept, Nov, at 12PM. Sign up in advance by sending an email to nnoyes@mainehistory.org or call 774-1822 x207.)

Maine Memory Network Demonstration

A Maine Memory Network staff member provides an in-depth review of content and search functions on Maine's premier statewide digital museum. Bring a laptop or tablet (optional) and search as you go. (Third Wednesdays in February and August, at 12PM. Sign up in advance by sending an email to kamoroso@mainehistory.org.)

Museum Collections: Researching in the Museum Collections

Go behind the scenes with the MHS Collections Manager. In this hour-long program, Holly Hurd-Forsyth takes you into several of the museum storage rooms (normally off-limits to the public), and discusses how the MHS museum collection can be a valuable source of information in your research project. Learn how to use the web-based museum catalog, PastPerfect Online, along with other object-specific research tools. (Third Wednesdays in Jan, Apr, July, and Oct at 12PM; Limited to 12. Sign up in advance by sending an email to hhurd@mainehistory.org.)

Regional Genealogy Programs, Events, and Conferences

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.

Exhibits

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.

 

exhibition logo

Wholesome Habitations: Architectural Collections of the Maine Historical Society
Opens October 3, 2014

Wholesome Habitations showcases the architectural collections of the Brown Library at Maine Historical Society. On display are various forms of architectural drawings and supplemental items, such as presentation drawings, elevations, floor plans, decorative elements, and photographs. 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 www.mainememory.net.

Registration

All events, unless otherwise noted, are held at the Maine Historical Society. Click here for Directions or Parking.

For more information or to sign up for any of the events listed below, call (207) 774–1822 or email info@mainehistory.org. Support our efforts and become a member today.

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