Maine Historical Society



Upcoming Events at the Maine Historical Society

Events on this page: August | September | October | Ongoing & Family Programs | Annual Cruise | Exhibits

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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August Programs

Monday, August 4 – Friday, August 8, 2014

Junior Docent Camp

Junior Docent Camp

WHO: For students entering 4th-6th grades
WHEN: Monday, August 4 - Thursday, August 7: 9 AM-12 PM
Friday, August 8: 9 AM-2PM
COST: $75 per student from MHS member families/$100 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: July 21. To register or request more information, contact Kathleen Neumann, Manager of Student and Interpretative Programs, at or (207) 774-1822 ext. 214.

Wednesday, August 6, 5:30 pm

In partnership with Maine Audubon
Summer Garden Series: Making the Most out of Maine Backyard Gardens: A Naturalist's View

A Baltimore Oriole in Maine. Credit: Doug Hitchcox

A Baltimore Oriole in Maine. Credit: Doug Hitchcox

Speaker: Sally Stockwell, Director of Conservation, Maine Audubon

How have Maine gardens changed over time? One way is the many invasive species that have entered Maine over the past decades, altering our landscapes and forcing plant species, wildlife, and humans to adapt. Maine Audubon's Director of Conservation, Sally Stockwell, joins us in one of the loveliest garden spots in Portland to talk about the history of changes to our backyard gardens, and how we can best plan for and create beneficial garden environments that attract the right kinds of creatures—including birds, favorable insects, and other wildlife. Cost: Free for MHS members; $5 for non-members. Pay at the garden gate.

Saturday, August 9, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm

Set Sail on the Wendameen

Set Sail on the Wendameen

With Historian Jim Millinger

Join the Maine Historical Society for a sail on Casco Bay on board the historic Maine schooner Wendameen. Jim Millinger, former MHS Trustee and Casco Bay Lines skipper, and now a Portland Harbor historian, will be our host, and will talk about Portland Harbor's past and present. The 88-foot Wendameen, designed by John Alden, one of America's most celebrated yacht designers, was built in East Boothbay in 1912. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Help the crew raise the sail, take a turn at the wheel, or just relax and enjoy the talk and the scenery. Refreshments served. Space limited. Cost: $45 MHS members; $55 non-members. Reserve your seat online or contact for a registration form.

Tuesday, August 12, 12:00 pm

Student Spotlight Talk: “I used to feel sometimes just like a caged lion”: The Everyday Experience of Domesticity in New England, 1830-1880

“Prang's aids for object teaching--The kitchen” (Boston: L. Prang & Co., c1874). Library of Congress.

“Prang's aids for object teaching--The kitchen” (Boston: L. Prang & Co., c1874). Library of Congress.

Speaker: Rachel A. Snell, University of Maine Ph.D. Candidate

This program relates to the 2014-2015 museum exhibit, "Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland."

Looking back over her experience as a wife and mother, Laura Burrows of Otisfield wrote, “Now many months and years there has been since I began housekeeping that I’ve been nowhere but to church on Sunday and I used to feel sometimes just like a caged lion but that has all gone now. I am content.”

Manuscript recipe books, account books, and diaries provide an intimate glimpse into the everyday lives of New England women during the mid-19th century. These texts, some of which were used in the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, reveal the changing nature of women’s household work in the period between 1828 and 1876, when the forces of the industrial revolution and the rise of the middle class transformed the home and women’s work along with society in general. University of Maine Ph.D. candidate Rachel Snell joins us to share her research into how hard women worked and their ambivalence towards domestic ideology.

Rachel completed an M.A. in Early American History at the University of New Hampshire in 2008. Outside of research and teaching, her primary hobby is running. She recently combined her interests by completing the MDI Marathon to support the MDI Historical Society. She lives in Old Town. Cost: Free for MHS members; $5 for non-members (pay at the door).

Thursday, August 14, 5:30 pm

In partnership with Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance
Summer Garden Series: Poetry of Home, Place, Community

Summer Garden Series: Poetry of Home, Place, Community

Poets: Christian Barter, Christopher Robley, Betsy Sholl

This program relates to the 2014-2015 museum exhibit, "Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland."

Three Maine poets, including former Maine Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl and the 2014 Maine Literary Award winners for poetry (book length and short work), read their work in the Longfellow Garden. The poets focus on themes of home, family, sense of place, and community, echoing the themes explored in the new MHS museum exhibit, Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland. Cost: Free for MHS and MWPA members; $5 for non-members. Pay at the garden gate.

Saturday, August 16, 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Presented in partnership with Pine Tree Council, Boy Scouts of America
Lost on a Mountain in Maine: 75th Anniversary Event

Still from proof of concept for

Still from proof of concept for "Lost on a Mountain in Maine" film.

Speakers: Donn Fendler and Ryan Cook, Filmmaker

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of Donn Fendler's harrowing nine-day ordeal on Mt. Katahdin in 1939, and the attention he and his story have attracted in the decades since, MHS and the Pine Tree Council, Maine's chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, will host an afternoon with Donn and the filmmaker working to bring the story to the big screen.

The family-friendly event includes a screening of the "Lost on a Mountain in Maine" proof of concept short film, an excerpt from the documentary "Finding Donn Fendler," a conversation with Donn looking back on his experience three-quarters of a century later, and a book signing. Acknowledging how Donn's Boy Scout training helped save his life, scouts and scout leaders will join us in uniform and make a special presentation. Join us for this once-in-a-lifetime FREE event!

Tuesday, August 19, 12:00 pm

Neighborhood Heroes: Life Lessons from Maine's Greatest Generation

Neighborhood Heroes: Life Lessons from Maine's Greatest Generation

Speaker: Morgan Rielly

Recent Westbrook High School graduate Morgan Rielly's lifelong passion for history and stories motivated him to interview and record the personal histories of local World War II veterans. Throughout his four years in high school, Morgan researched, tracked down, and talked at length to numerous men and women, many of whose experiences and memories are now collected in Neighborhood Heroes, recently published by Down East Books. Join us to hear the author, who is off to Bowdoin College in the fall, share some of these compelling stories, and how he was inspired to begin the project in the first place. Cost: Free for MHS members; $5 for non-members.

Wednesday, August 20, 12:00 pm

Intro to MHS: Maine Memory Network & Bird's Eye Views

Intro to MHS: Maine Memory Network & Bird's Eye Views

Facilitators: Kathy Amoroso, Director of Digital Engagement; Fran Pollitt, MHS's Volunteer Map Cataloger

Learn about digital resources on Maine's premier statewide digital museum. This month's program features the stunning bird's eye views of Maine cities created in the late 19th century and uploaded to MMN by contributing partner Boston Public Library. Fran Pollitt, MHS volunteer map cataloger, will introduce participants to these, and other cartographic gems. Bring a laptop or tablet (optional) and search as you go.

The Intro to MHS: Maine Memory Network program takes place on the third Wednesday in February and August at 12PM in the MHS lecture hall. It is free. Sign up in advance by sending an email to

Tuesday, August 26, 12:00 pm

The Night the Sky Turned Red: The Story of the Great Portland, Maine, Fire of July 4, 1866, as Told by Those Who Lived Through It

Great Fire of Portland from Eastern Cemetery, 1866. MMN #16982.

Great Fire of Portland from Eastern Cemetery, 1866. MMN #16982.

Speaker: Allan M. Levinsky

Longtime Maine Historical Society Visitor Service Coordinator Allan Levinsky is also an accomplished historian with several books under his belt. In this book talk, he will share the first-person stories and dramatic events surrounding the infamous Portland fire of 1866.

September Programs

Thursday, September 4, 5:30 – 7:30 pm

In partnership with Maine Audubon
Pigeons, Puffins & Plovers: A Story of Extinction & Survival

Martha, the last passenger pigeon, died on September 1, 1914.

Martha, the last passenger pigeon, died on September 1, 1914.

LOCATION: Maine Audubon, Gilsland Farm Road, Falmouth

September 1, 2014, marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of “Martha,” the last surviving Passenger Pigeon. The Passenger Pigeon’s population in 1814 was estimated to be 3.5 billion. There are countless first-person stories about skies turning black with pigeons in the nineteenth century. Why did such an abundant species go extinct in less than one hundred years?

Learn about the fate of the Passenger Pigeon and other extinct birds of recent years, as well as successful comeback stories like the Atlantic Puffin and Bald Eagle. What are our endangered species today? Learn what actions you can take to ensure that our wildlife species are here for generations to come, and see a Passenger Pigeon mount from Maine Audubon’s collections. Attendees receive a Passenger Pigeon origami to fold.

Free for members of Maine Audubon and Maine Historical Society. $5 general admission. Cash bar and light food.

Tuesday, September 16, 12:00 pm

Ed Muskie: Made in Maine, 1914-1960

Ed Muskie: Made in Maine, 1914-1960

Speaker: James Witherell

The arc of Edmund “Ed” Muskie’s life from modest beginnings 100 hundred years ago to future greatness was singular and unpredictable—an American story that looks plausible only in hindsight. Author James L. Witherell’s new biography of Muskie traces the son of an immigrant tailor through his two terms as Maine’s governor. Witherell is also the author of Bicycle History (2010), L.L. Bean: The Man and His Company (2011), and When Heroes Were Giants: 100 Tours de France (2013). Cost: Free for MHS members; $5 for non-members (pay at the door).

Tuesday, September 23, 12:00 pm

The Portland Water District in Pictures, 1908-2008

Douglass Street Weathervane, 1929

Douglass Street Weathervane, 1929

Speakers: Paul Thomas Hunt and Barbara Brewer

This program relates to the 2014-2015 museum exhibit, "Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland."

Greater Portland has had a public water system since 1869. For almost 40 years it was owned and operated as a for-profit company. A vote in 1906 changed all that and led to the legal actions that established the quasi-municipal, non-profit Portland Water District in 1908. Though largely unseen and not thought of, there is a rich pictorial and human history to the first 100 years of Maine’s largest water and wastewater utility. Cost: Free for MHS members; $5 for non-members (pay at the door).

Paul Thomas Hunt is the District’s Environmental Manager. He volunteered to create a history presentation as part of the centennial celebration and soon found himself immersed in old newspapers and company reports. Barbara Brewer is the Executive Assistant for the District. She was tapped to maintain the District’s historical collection of artifacts. She shares historical information by writing articles for the employee newsletter and contributing images to Maine Memory Network and on the District’s Facebook page.

October Programs

Friday, October 24 – Thursday, October 30, 2014

Longfellow's "Haunted House"


Don't miss this unique evening tour of the Longfellow House in the week leading up to Halloween! Based on Longfellow's poem, "Haunted Houses" -- "All houses wherein men have lived and died / Are haunted houses" -- the 90-minute tour will be led by seasoned guide James Horrigan. It will bring to life the various family members that died in the Wadsworth-Longfellow over its long history.

There are only six tour evenings: October 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, and 30, from 6-7:30 PM. RSVPs are required and each tour is limited to 12. Admission fee of $10 pp is payable at the door. All tours sold out quickly last year so don't delay! To reserve a spot, call John Babin, Visitor Services Manager, at 207-774-1822 ext. 212.

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

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

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

Regional Genealogy Programs, Events, and Conferences

Annual Cruise

CRUISE - The Magic of the Loire Valley and Bordeaux's Chateaux and Vineyards
October 29 - November 9, 2014

Join MHS as we sail three rivers on this journey—the Garonne, the Dordogne, and the Gironde—and savor the unique gastronomical heritage of southwest France. You'll be treated to a sumptuous display of culinary magic throughout your journey.
Get Details.


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.


 photo of 701 Forest Avenue, Portland, 1924
701 Forest Avenue, Portland in 1924

A Snapshot of Portland, 1924: The Taxman Cometh
Opens June 27, 2014

A Snapshot of Portland celebrates the informal photographs that the tax assessor's office took of every taxable building in the City in 1924. The exhibition highlights a selection of these fascinating snapshots of Portland life—from its first "skyscrapers" to tenements, pool halls, and farms. 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


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 Support our efforts and become a member today.