Maine Historical Society



Upcoming Programs & Events

Events on this page: September | October | Ongoing Programs | Podcasts | Group Trips | 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 us at (207) 774-1822.

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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.

September Programs

Thursday, September 1, 12:00 pm

Forever Yours, Bar Harbor Book Talk & Signing

<i>Forever Yours, Bar Harbor</i> Book Talk & Signing

Before cameras were common, visitors to Mount Desert Island had to remember the beauty of the landscape through postcards. In his new book, Forever Yours, Bar Harbor, Earl Brechlin transports readers back in time to the Golden Age of Acadia, Mount Desert Island, and Bar Harbor, when the Rockefellers strolled the streets and carriage roads were actually used for carriages. These antique postcards were once collected and treasured, kept as mementoes and displayed for guests. While digital photography has replaced the postcard as the preferred way to share vacation memories, readers will enjoy traveling through time with registered Maine guide and author Earl Brechlin. Alongside each image, Brechlin provides illuminating details, tidbits of Maine lore, and information about how modern day Mount Desert Island compares with the scenic postcard.

Earl Brechlin is an author, journalist, and registered Maine Guide who lives in Bar Harbor. Born in Connecticut, Brechlin returned to Maine to live after high school, or in his words, “as soon as I could.” For more than 35 years, Brechlin has been exploring the Maine wilderness, taking photographs, and gathering material for his articles and books. He is the author of four Maine and New England history books based on antique postcards, as well as field guides to Maine and Mount Desert Island. The editor of the MDI Islander, he knows the forests and mountains of his beloved island like the back of his hand. His photographs and articles have appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Down East Magazine, The Maine Sportsman, and in various Appalachian Mountain Club books and magazines.

Free for MHS Members; $5 general admission.

Register today!

Friday, September 2, 5:00 – 8:00 pm

First Friday Art Walk

Boot and Shoe Makers trade banner, Portland, 1841

Boot and Shoe Makers trade banner, Portland, 1841

Maine Historical Society will display a selection of the original, historical banners from the Maine Charitable Mechanics Association. These banners – made for a labor parade in 1841 – are the source and inspiration for Ellen Babcock’s recent art project, "The Working People’s Parade." Together with students from USM, Babcock crafted modern versions of the banners and will parade them along Congress Street during the September First Friday Art Walk. Following the parade, come to MHS to see the originals! Visitors will also have a chance to contribute to an upcoming exhibition featuring the original banners, planned for 2017.

Wednesday, September 7, 10:00 am

Children's Hour, a Story & Craft Activity for Kids: When We Go Camping

Children's Hour, a Story & Craft Activity for Kids: When We Go Camping

Children’s Hour returns to Maine Historical Society this summer! Join us each month for the reading of a favorite story book followed by crafts and activities for the whole family. In recognition of the centennial of both Acadia National Park and the National Park System, we’ll explore the fun and wonder of the great outdoors throughout the series!

In September we'll read When We Go Camping by Margriet Ruurs. The accompanying craft is making sketch pads / memory books, to be used for collecting special memories from camping trips.

Weather permitting, all programs will be held in the Longfellow Garden. Light refreshments will be provided. All programs are free; registration is recommended. All are welcome; recommended for ages 4-9. All children must be accompanied by a caregiver.

To register or request additional information please contact Manager of Education and Interpretive Programs, Kathleen Neumann at 207-774-1822, ext. 214, email

Sunday, September 11, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Take Your Grandparent to the Museum Day

Silhouette of Peleg Wadsworth, grandfather to poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Item #136 on Maine Memory Network.

Silhouette of Peleg Wadsworth, grandfather to poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Item #136 on Maine Memory Network.

Grandparents are often our first, and closest, link to history. In honor of National Grandparents Day, a special family admission price of $20 will be offered to all families who visit MHS with a grandparent. In addition, grandparents who purchase an MHS family membership on this day will receive $5 off the family membership price.

Wednesday, September 14

Ask a Curator Day

Ask a Curator Day

Maine Historical Society is participating in the international Ask a Curator Day! Ask your question about Maine history or an historical object on social media (tag @mainehistory). Our Chief Curator Kate McBrien and Director of Library Services Jamie Rice will be available all day to provide the answers!

Wednesday, September 14, 12:00 – 12:30 pm

Curator Tour: Designing Acadia

MHS Chief Curator Kate McBrien

MHS Chief Curator Kate McBrien

Join MHS Chief Curator Kate McBrien for an insider’s view of the creation of MHS’s exhibit, Designing Acadia: Creating Maine's National Park Experience. On view through January 14, 2017.

For 100 years, Acadia National Park has captured the American imagination and stood as the most recognizable symbol of Maine's important natural history and identity. From the breathtaking views, to the roads and trails we use today, each section of the Park was carefully considered to both protect the environment and enhance the visitor experience. Acadia’s story is told here through artifacts including design blueprints, construction photographs, trail signs, period fashion, and even a 1927 Ford Model T Roadster.

Free for MHS Members; $8 general admission.

Register today!

Thursday, September 22, 6:00 pm

“Written in Granite: Acadia’s Changeable Histories”, a lecture by Mount Desert Historical Society Executive Director Tim Garrity

Tim Garrity, Executive Director of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society

Tim Garrity, Executive Director of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society

George Dorr intended for Acadia National Park’s “noble granite masses” to “become true historic documents that will record forever to succeeding generations the human background of the Park.” However, no history lasts forever. The French historian Fernand Braudel taught that “History is the child of its time.” The names that Dorr gave to Acadia’s mountains tells us as much about the time of the park’s founding as it does about the more distant past. In this illustrated lecture, reprised from the MHS Annual Meeting this past spring, Tim Garrity will reflect on the history of the park as we understand it now and as the founders understood it a century ago.

Tim Garrity is the Executive Director of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society. He writes and presents on a wide range of Mount Desert Island histories including the Civil War and its impact on soldiers, sailors, women, and dissidents; historian Francis Parkman's arguments against women's suffrage; the changing historical accounts of the Saint Sauveur Jesuit mission; the fire of 1947; and how Acadia's mountains got their names. He is the managing editor of the society's annual magazine, Chebacco. He holds a M.A. in history from the University of Maine.

$5 MHS Members; $10 general admission.

Register today!

Saturday, September 24, 5:30 pm

An Evening with Frederick Law Olmsted

Gerry Wright as Frederick Law Olmsted (photo by Renee DeKona)

Gerry Wright as Frederick Law Olmsted (photo by Renee DeKona)

Join us for a memorable performance with actor, naturalist, and community organizer Gerry Wright as he presents “An Evening with Frederick Law Olmsted”. This original living history production will explore the work of Olmsted--long considered the father of landscape architecture--as well as his role in America’s conservation movement, and the roles his family and friends played in the design of Acadia National Park.

Gerry Wright is the author and performer of the one-man play “FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED: Passages in the Life of an Unpractical Man” and has more than 50 years of experiences in the fields of conservation and human services. A champion of projects that foster international communication, Gerry has received numerous awards, including the 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Embracing the Legacy Award and was named Father of Community Based Caring in Massachusetts by president of the State Senate. He is the founder and president of Friends of Jamaica Pond and has been portraying Frederick Law Olmsted as a living historian since 2003. He holds a BS from the forestry school at the University of Maine and a MS in wildlife conservation from Cornell University.

$10 MHS members; $15 general admission.

Register today!

October Programs

Tuesday, October 11 – Thursday, November 3, 2016

Genealogy Toolkit: An Intermediate Level Course

Susan M. Hawes

Susan M. Hawes

Are you ready to take your genealogy research to the next level? This course is designed for students who are looking for more in-depth instruction to enhance their genealogical skills. During eight 2-hour sessions, Genealogy Toolkit students will learn to evaluate and cite genealogical evidence from a variety of record types both online and off, including primary and secondary resources, vital records, census, as well as probate and land records. Space is limited, so sign up early!

A genealogist in Portland, Maine, Susan M. Hawes has extensive genealogy training, including the Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research. Sue holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of Colorado at Boulder, serves as Vice President of Greater Portland Chapter of Maine Genealogical Society, and teaches local adult education classes.

The course will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays over four weeks, starting at 10:30am (ending 12:30pm). Students are encouraged to purchase the textbook Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy by Val Greenwood, available in the Maine Historical Society museum store.

Tuesday, October 11 – Evidence and Ethics
Thursday, October 13 – Genealogy Research Today
Tuesday, October 18 – Context & Literature Survey
Thursday, October 20 – Home & Manuscript Sources
Tuesday, October 25 – Vital Records
Thursday, October 27 – Census Records
Tuesday, November 1 – Probate Records
Thursday, November 3 – Land Records

Location: MHS Brown Research Library
Cost: $150 per student / $125 MHS Members
Class size limit: 10 people
*Limited on-site parking is available. A parking fee is required.

Register today!

Wednesday, October 19, 5:30 pm

Maine History Maker Award Honoring Mary Bonauto

Maine History Maker Award Honoring Mary Bonauto

Celebrating 40 Years of LGBTQ Community Struggle, Empowerment, and Progress

Each year Maine Historical Society presents our Maine History Maker Award to an individual in Maine who has made significant contributions to the state. This year, we are thrilled to announce that we are honoring Mary Bonauto.

The Maine History Maker Award honors contemporary citizens who are shaping life in Maine today, be they business leaders, artists, community members, educators, political figures, or others who make a difference.

Mary Bonauto’s leadership on a broad range of civil rights issues on behalf of the LGBTQ community over the past three decades has been remarkable. The 2015 victory at the Supreme Court in which she played such an instrumental role reflected a change in attitudes that would have been almost unimaginable even a decade ago. A critical part of our work at Maine Historical Society is to recognize and honor the experiences of diverse individuals and communities, and to help a broad public understand how we all contribute and connect to Maine’s special sense of place. MHS is also taking this opportunity to launch an expanded effort to capture the history of Maine’s LGBTQ community.

Wednesday, October 19
5:30pm: Program at First Parish Church
7:00pm: Wine & Beer Reception at Maine Historical Society
Special performance from the Maine Gay Men's Chorus

Click below to become a Patron of this event, or to purchase your ticket to join us on October 19.

Become a Patron or Purchase a Ticket Here

Program Podcasts

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Group Trips

Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies
September 27 - October 6, 2016

Join MHS and the New Hampshire Historical Society as we enjoy all the splendors the Canadian Rockies have to offer. From Vancouver to Banff and Lake Louise and finally Calgary, this ten day trip combines striking natural beauty with intimate views of cosmopolitan Canadian cities and explorations of local culture and history. Get Trip Details.


On the Scenic Cadillac Mt. Road, Bar Harbor, ca. 1935

Designing Acadia: Creating Maine's National Park Experience

June 17, 2016 through January 14, 2017
MHS Gallery

For one hundred years, Acadia National Park has captured the American imagination and stood as the most recognizable symbol of Maine's important natural history and identity. Join us during Acadia's centennial anniversary year for an exploration of the landscape design that visitors continue to experience today. Read More.


George Frederick Morse painting of the Portland fire 1866

Images of Destruction: Remembering the Great Portland Fire of 1866

June 30 through October 30, 2016
Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. Lecture Hall and Showcase Gallery

On July 4, 1866, fireworks caused a fire in a Portland boatyard near the corner of Maple and Commercial Streets that quickly overtook much of the city. Photographs of the fire's aftermath, memorial paintings, maps, and commemorative newspapers shown with objects that survived the fire will bring the visitor back to this pivotal time in Portland's urban history. 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.