Maine Historical Society



Upcoming Programs & Events

Events on this page: June | July | August | On-Demand Programs | Ongoing Programs | Group Trips | Exhibitions | Online Exhibitions | Regional Genealogy Events

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NEW! BEGIN AGAIN Virtual Program Series
(May-December 2021)

Join us for an outstanding program series that examines the roots of social justice issues and Maine’s role in the national dialog on race and equity. Reflecting themes from our BEGIN AGAIN: reckoning with intolerance in Maine exhibition, this series provides a unique opportunity to engage with dynamic scholars, historians, community leaders, and citizens. Unless otherwise noted, BEGIN AGAIN highlighted programs are free and air via Zoom on specified times. Visit this page often for new additions. Register early to avoid disappointment.

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On-Demand Programs - Videos and Podcasts

VIDEOS: Watch topical dialogues, lessons & demonstrations related to Maine history.
PODCASTS: Hear audio recordings of MHS public lectures, stories, and events.

June Programs

Monday, June 21, 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Book Talk with Michael Connolly
Murky Overhead

Michael C. Connolly

Michael C. Connolly

Join Michael Connolly for a discussion about his newest book Murky Overhead. This work of historical fiction tells the story of a day in the life of an Irish-American working-class family, the Folans. Follow the Folans though the streets and docks of their new American home in maritime Portland, Maine, at the turn of the 20th century.

Coleman shovels coal for the longshore union, while his wife Mary, who is nearly full-term with their tenth child, does her best to keep the family going. Challenges abound and though it seems the family faces an ever-growing number of hurdles, they know they must take on each day one at a time even when their prospects appear to be murky, at best.

About the author: Michael C. Connolly is a life-long resident of Portland, Maine's Munjoy Hill. His experiences growing up in what was one of the city's main ethnic (predominantly Irish and Italian) working-class neighborhoods greatly shaped his thinking and have had a continuing influence on his writing. He was encouraged by his parents to be the first in his family to graduate from high school, let alone college. Michael has been a professor of History and Political Science at Saint Joseph's College in Maine; and now holds the honorary title of Professor Emeritus. His research has focused on Irish and Irish-American history and the labor movement in Ireland and America. He has published many lauded essays on the subject. In October 2016, Mike was honored by receiving the Claddagh Award by the Maine Irish Heritage Center in recognition of his long-time promotion of Irish history and culture in Maine.

Cost: Free and open to the public. Registration required.

Location: online via Zoom, REGISTER HERE.

Thursday, June 24, 6:00 – 7:00 pm

BEGIN AGAIN SERIES: A Conversation with David Freidenreich
200 Years of Jews in Maine

David Freidenreich

David Freidenreich

Hosted by Steve Bromage
Jews have a long history in Maine, with thriving communities across the state. They came to Maine for the same reasons as so many others: to live well and raise their families within the state's appealing natural and cultural environment. The experiences of Jewish Mainers, however, have also been distinctive on account of their occupational choices and traditions as well as their encounters with antisemitism.

How have Jews sought to contribute to Maine's economic, cultural, and social landscape, and how did they gain widespread acceptance? How have these Mainers sustained their own religion, culture, and ethnic ties while embracing the broader communities to which they belong? How did the challenges and opportunities that Jews faced in Maine change over time? Join us for an engaging conversation with Dr. David Freidenreich to learn more!

About the speaker: David M. Freidenreich is the Pulver Family Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Colby College, where he serves as director of the Jewish studies program and associate director of the Center for Small Town Jewish Life. He directs Colby's Maine Jewish History Project, whose website ( features dozens of essays on the state's Jewish history, including several he wrote. After receiving a B.A. from Brandeis University, he earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Cost: Free and open to the public, registration required.

Location: online via Zoom. REGISTER HERE.

July Programs

Wednesday, July 7, 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Book Talk with Michael Trapani
Panic in the Senate: The Fight Over the Second Bank of the United States and the American Presidency

Panic in the Senate: The Fight Over the Second Bank of the United States and the American Presidency

Join author and history teacher Michael Trapani as he discusses how Andrew Jackson changed the nature of the United States presidency through his war against the Second Bank of the United States, and how his Whig opponents in the Senate tried to stem the tide of change. Jackson's novel use of his removal and veto power, coupled with anointing himself the direct representative of the people, shocked opponents who believed the president had stretched the power of the office beyond the limits set by the nation's founders. Trapani will also discuss contributions to the debate from the two Maine senators often overlooked by history: Ether Shepley and Peleg Sprague - the former one of Jackson's staunchest defenders, and the latter one of his most forceful enemies.

About the author: Michael Trapani has taught United States history in central New Jersey for fifteen years. He holds a Bachelor's degree in History and Master's degree in Education from Fairleigh Dickinson University, as well a Master's Degree in History from Arizona State University. His book, Panic in the Senate: The Fight Over the Second Bank of the United States and the American Presidency, was published in the spring of 2021 by Algora Publishing. When he's not teaching, writing, or reading history, Trapani enjoys coaching high school baseball, playing golf, and spending time with his family. He lives in Rockaway, NJ with his wife, Kelly, and two young daughters, Addison and Everly.

Cost: Free and open to the public, registration required.

Location: online via Zoom, REGISTER HERE.

Saturday, July 17, 09:30 am – 12:00 pm

Interactive program with Ian Saxine, Patrick Griffin, and T. H. Breen
MHS HISTORIAN'S FORUM: Ulster Scots Migrations in Early America

Historian Ian Saxine

Historian Ian Saxine

For generations, the Ulster Scots were a people on the move. From their home in the Scottish Lowlands, these Presbyterians ventured first to Ulster, and then across the Atlantic, where they carved out lives in Britain’s North American colonies, including what became the state of Maine. By the American Revolution, 200,000 Ulster Scots had crossed the sea. Their story is one of rich contrasts. Religious dissidents who struggled for acceptance in an empire ruled by the English, the Ulster Scots also helped expand the bounds of that same empire as soldiers and colonizers, at the expense of local Irish and Native Americans.

In North America, the Ulster Scots had a profound influence in shaping the culture and politics of the British colonies and their borderlands. They built towns, farms, and churches, and at different times married, traded with and made war on their new neighbors.

This special Historian’s Forum features a conversation with two eminent historians of the Ulster Scots experience in Early America. Host Ian Saxine (MHS Coordinator, Historian’s Forum) will speak with Patrick Griffin (University of Notre Dame) and T. H. Breen (University of Vermont) about the Ulster Scots migrations, with a particular focus on what brought them to Maine and New England, and what their experiences can tell us about religion, community, war, empire, and globalization in the colonial era. Beginning with a moderated discussion with Saxine, the program concludes with Griffin and Breen responding to questions from the audience.

Cost: Free and open to the public, registration required.

Location: online via Zoom. REGISTER HERE.

Tuesday, July 20, 6:00 – 7:00 pm

BEGIN AGAIN SERIES: A Talk with Darren Ranco
Major Episodes of Colonial Racism in Maine State Indian History and Policy

Major Episodes of Colonial Racism in Maine State Indian History and Policy

Wherever we are in Maine, we are on Wabanaki homeland. In this talk, Dr. Darren Ranco will show how issues of racial injustice have shaped State of Maine Indian History and Policy, as well as give a broad historical and rights context to contemporary issues related to Wabanaki Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights.

About the speaker: Darren J. Ranco, PhD, is a citizen of the Penobscot Nation, and Associate Professor of Anthropology and Chair of Native American Programs at the University of Maine. He has a Masters of Studies in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School and a PhD in Social Anthropology from Harvard University. His research focuses on the ways in which indigenous communities in the United States resist environmental destruction by using indigenous science, diplomacies, and critiques of liberalism to protect natural and cultural resources. He teaches classes on indigenous intellectual property rights, research ethics, environmental justice and tribal governance. He is particularly interested in how better research relationships can be made between universities, museums, Native and non-Native researchers, and indigenous communities.

Cost: Free and open to the public, registration required.

Location: online via Zoom. REGISTER HERE.

Thursday, July 22, 6:00 – 7:00 pm

BEGIN AGAIN SERIES: Panel Discussion
Nineteenth-Century Black Politics in Maine: Historical Research and Legacies

Van Gosse

Van Gosse

This event is co-sponsored by the McGillicuddy Humanities Center at the University of Maine.

In September 1826, a group of six African American men addressed a letter “To the Public” on behalf of about 600 of their brethren in Portland, Maine, in which they announced their intention to “erect a suitable house for public worship” to serve their community. Their plan came to fruition in the construction of the Abyssinian Meeting House, built in 1828, which became the epicenter of Maine abolitionism and African American politics.

The original Meeting House building still stands in Portland and is a focal point for ongoing research and preservation efforts. The meetinghouse campaign represents one of the most visible moments of activism for these Black Mainers, but their activities and influence extended into almost every aspect of 19th-century American history and politics. Black Mainers held political offices and appointments, campaigned on behalf of national parties, and shaped political debates surrounding slavery, abolition, and racism.

This panel discussion will explore the political endeavors of the creators of the meetinghouse plan and their activist allies in the decades surrounding its construction, putting this research in conversation with ongoing public history and preservation work. The panel will highlight important new research by Van Gosse (Franklin & Marshall University) whose book, The First Reconstruction: Black Politics in America, From the Revolution to the Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2021), includes chapters devoted to the partisan politics of Black Mainers. Panelist will respond from their respective viewpoints, leaving time for further questions and discussion with the audience.


~ PAMELA CUMMINGS (President of the Committee to Restore the Abyssinian Meeting House)
~ MARY FREEMAN (University of Maine)
~ BOB GREENE (Journalist & Independent Scholar)
~ VAN GOSSE (Franklin & Marshall University)

Cost: Free and open to the public, registration required.

Location: online via Zoom, REGISTER HERE.

August Programs

Thursday, August 19, 6:00 – 7:00 pm

BEGIN AGAIN SERIES: A Talk with Matt Barker
The Know-Nothings Menace: When Hate, Fear, and Prejudice Ruled Maine and America

Matt Barker

Matt Barker

Prejudice and discrimination in Maine against immigrants dates back to at least the mid-1700s, when Pope's or Pope Day (Guy Fawkes Day in Britain) was celebrated in Falmouth (Portland), effigies of the Pope and the Devil were carried around town to loud cheers and slurs. Protestants had been taught since birth to hate Roman Catholicism. After all, French Catholics had been their enemy since the 1690s during the French and Indian Wars.

When large numbers of Irish Catholics started to immigrate beginning in the 1820s, Protestant anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant and anti-Irish groups were formed all over, including Maine. The large influx of Irish people who came during and after the Great Hunger (the Great Irish Potato Famine, 1845-51) only accelerated these groups, culminating with the formation of the Know Nothings (also Know-Nothings), a secret anti-Irish, anti-Catholic political party who gained political power throughout the United States in 1854-55.

Their poster child in Portland was Mayor Neal Dow. In Maine, they burned down three Catholic churches (in Bath, Lewiston, and Ellsworth). In 1854, they tarred and feathered Father John Bapst, a Swiss Jesuit, in Ellsworth. The issue of slavery, as well as their excesses, finally doomed the Know-Nothings and they disappeared. But the hate and suspicion of foreigners resurfaced again in the 1870s and 1890s, when the American Protective Association was in their heyday. This group was, of course, followed by the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. Join Matt Barker to learn more about this history in Maine.

Cost: Free and open to the public, registration required.

Location: online via Zoom, REGISTER HERE.

Ongoing Programs

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

Exhibition Galleries (self-guided) - See details.

Historical Walking Tours of Portland - See details.

Current and Upcoming Exhibitions

Begin Again exhibit logo

Begin Again:
reckoning the intolerance in Maine

Opening May 27, 2021

Maine Memory Network exhibit logo

Maine Memory Network: over 300 online exhibits


Group Trips

Stay tuned for information on upcoming trips!

Regional Genealogy Programs, Events, and Conferences

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