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Maine Historical Society



Upcoming Programs & Events

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

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NEW! MHS CELEBRATING 200 YEARS Virtual Program Series
(February–December 2022)

Join us for an outstanding program series that celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Maine Historical Society. Unless otherwise noted, MHS CELEBRATING 200 YEARS highlighted programs are free and air via Zoom at 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.

May Programs

Tuesday, May 17, 7:00 – 8:00 pm

Book Talk and Performance with Castlebay
Songs of Ships and Sailors

Castlebay, Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee

Castlebay, Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee

Whether you're a sailor, a singer, or just a lover of New England lore, you'll love the ballads and broadsides featured in Bygone Ballads from Maine Vol.1 - Songs of Ships & Sailors. Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee of Castlebay spent over a decade researching a wealth of songs, stories and folkways from the Celtic tradition here in Maine archived in collections, recordings and even genealogies across the state.

Join us as they relate their research, how they uncovered several thousand songs and ballads from Maine’s past -- and perform a few of their favorites!

About the speakers/performers: Castlebay has been musically weaving together the heritage of New England and the Celtic lands since 1987. Members Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee have loved, sung and researched traditional music for most of their lives. Treating audiences to a musical journey through time and across the Atlantic, their concerts feature poignant ballads sung in Lane's ethereal soprano and Gosbee's rich baritone. Although they are known for their arrangements of traditional music, Gosbee and Lane also compose their own works, many of which have their roots in the Celtic tradition. They have released 27 recordings including original and traditional songs.

Lane grew up in New Hampshire and Maine, graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, and studied in Oxford, England. She has studied piano, classical and flamenco guitar, voice, and is self-taught player of the Celtic folk harp. Gosbee grew up in Maine and studied at the University of Maine. Fully conversant with several instruments, he currently sings and plays classic and 12-string guitar, viola, fiddle, and woodwinds, and is a skilled technician and woodworker. Their website is

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Location: online via Zoom. REGISTER

June Programs

Wednesday, June 1, 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Special Curator Tour: NORTHERN THREADS with Jamie Rice

Special Curator Tour: NORTHERN THREADS with Jamie Rice


Join Jamie Rice, MHS Deputy Director and co-curator for NORTHERN THREADS: Two Centuries of Dress at Maine Historical Society for a special guided tour of the exhibit. Told through themed vignettes, NORTHERN THREADS considers how the clothing Maine people wore during the late 18th to mid-20th centuries reveals the social, economic, and environmental history of our state. This examination of MHS' permanent collection is an opportunity to consider the relevance of historic clothing in museums, the ebb and flow of fashion styles, and the complexities of diverse representation spanning 200 years of collecting.

This is a unique opportunity to experience a deep dive into this major exhibit with curator, Jamie Rice.

Space is limited and open to MHS members only.

Location: MHS 489 Congress Street, Portland
Cost: Free for MHS members, space limited to 10 members

Register Today!

Wednesday, June 1, 7:00 – 8:00 pm

Looming Trends: 18th-Century Patterned Silks in New England

Ned Lazaro

Ned Lazaro

During the 18th century, patterned silks were some of the costliest fabrics available. Hand-woven on complex drawlooms, patterned silks worn for dress could be highly decorative, featuring designs that changed not just yearly, but seasonally.

With no large-scale weaving in the colonies, a select group of New Englanders imitating the sartorial tastes of England and Europe’s elite adopted imported examples. Not surprisingly, however, the absence here of an aristocracy and its attendant, complex wardrobe requirements created an entirely different context for ownership.

Join Ned Lazaro from Historic Deerfield for a talk on those New Englanders who chose to wear this luxurious dress fabric during the early and middle years of the 18th century. He will explore issues of consumption, availability, preferences, and symbolic legacy.

About the speaker: David E. (Ned) Lazaro is the Curator of Textiles at Historic Deerfield. He holds a master’s degree in fashion and textile history from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he focused on 18th- and early 19th- century clothing construction. He has lectured and published on various aspects of western fashion and appearance through the lens of New England inhabitants, including 17th- and 18th- century Indian cotton, 18th-century drawloom-woven silks, 19th-century hoop skirts, and 20th-century dressmaking. Ned has curated exhibitions at the Flynt Center of Early New England Life focusing on the intersection of fashion and the military, the reuse of clothing and textiles, and nature motifs in the decorative arts.

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Location: online via Zoom. REGISTER

Friday, June 3, 5:00 – 7:00 pm

First Friday Art Walk

First Friday Art Walk

Maine Historical Society is excited to join First Friday Art Walk festivities on June 3 as part of our Annual Meeting Open House, during our 200th anniversary year.


SHOP our store.

VISIT the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and Longfellow Garden.

ENJOY the beautiful Brown Research Library.

EXPERIENCE Three Powerhouse Exhibits in our Galleries:

• Northern Threads: Two Centuries of Dress and Maine Historical Society (Part I).

• Representing every particular: John Martin's 19th century fashion illustrations

• Cosmopolitan stylings of Madeleine and Mildred Burrage

Tuesday, June 21, 7:00 – 8:00 pm

*NORTHERN THREADS SERIES* Book Talk with Laura F. Edwards
Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the 19th-Century United States

Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the 19th-Century United States

Fashion choices can tell us a lot about a person and the world they lived in. Did you know that historic textiles can also reveal hidden stories of ordinary people and how they made use of their material goods' economic and legal values?

Join historian Laura F. Edwards for a discussion on her book Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the 19th-Century United States. Learn more about long-forgotten practices that made textiles—clothing, cloth, bedding, and accessories—a unique form of property that people without rights could own and exchange. These stories are about far more than cloth and clothing; they reshape our understanding of law and the economy in America.

About the author: Laura F. Edwards is a legal historian whose research focuses on nineteenth-century United States. The author of four books, she holds a B.A. in American Culture from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She taught at Duke University and is currently a professor at Princeton where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the history of law in the United States.

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Location: online via Zoom. REGISTER.

Saturday, June 25, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

*NORTHERN THREADS SERIES* Getting Dressed, an exploration and demonstration of 18th-century women’s fashion

*NORTHERN THREADS SERIES* Getting Dressed, an exploration and demonstration of 18th-century women’s fashion

with Kristel Henry and Hannah Peterson
If you think getting dressed every morning is a chore, imagine what it took for a woman to put herself together in the 1700s! Curious to know exactly what it took to get outfitted for the day in the 18th century? Come learn from Kristel Henry and Hannah Peterson as they explain the complexities of a woman’s wardrobe. As living history enthusiasts, they have extensive experience constructing and wearing reproduction clothing. Using a combination of historic and reproduction examples, Peterson and Henry will examine each layer of clothing, explore various clothing construction techniques and materials, and discuss the difference between lower- and upper-class garments.

This is an in-person event and face coverings are required. You can find up-to-date MHS pandemic protocols here.

About the speakers:
Kristel Henry has been interested in fashion since childhood. She has researched historic clothing for the past 15 years, focusing on the 18th century. Henry is a self-taught seamstress, who learned 18th-century clothing construction techniques from Larkin & Smith. She enjoys living history, and is currently a member of McAlpin’s Corps of Loyal American Volunteers, and the Pawtuxet Rangers RIHM. She has volunteered her interpretive services with the National Park Service (NPS), and at several museums in Rhode Island and Connecticut. She holds a BA in English Literature from Rhode Island College, and after a long career in human resources management, has worked as a historical interpreter at the Old York Historical Society.

Hannah Peterson began pattern-making in her teens, and has since then honed her research skills and developed an extensive knowledge of historical clothing by completing master seamstress training and apprenticing with a master tailor from Europe. She has been a historical reenactor since she was 15, and is currently a member of McAlpin’s Corps of Loyal American Volunteers. Peterson has lectured about historical subjects at Freeport Historical Society, Old York Historical Society and MOFGA’s Common Ground Fair. She has worked as a stitcher at a professional theater, as a men’s personal stylist, and as an educator at Old York Historical Society.

Cost: Free for MHS members, registration required, limited availability.

Location: Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress Street, Portland


July Programs

Wednesday, July 6, 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Maine Historical Society's First 200 Years: A Talk with William Barry

Founded in 1822, Maine Historical Society is the third oldest state dedicated historical society in the United States. For 200 years MHS has studied, collected, and worked to preserve and share the many different stories of the many different people who have called the Pine Tree State home. But what do we know about MHS’ own history? Join us for a retrospective on the institution's story with MHS Historian William Barry. We’ll take a look back at two centuries of collecting, writing, exhibiting, and interpreting, and think a bit about what comes next.

About the speaker: Portland resident William Barry is a research historian, book reviewer, editor, and freelance writer. He has been a guest curator for a number of art and historical exhibits, including: Women Pioneers in Maine Art (1981), Made in Maine: Michael Waterman (1988), and Rum Riot and Reform: Maine and the History of American Drinking (1999 with Nan Cumming). His research and writing specialties are local and regional art, history and literature. He received an M.A. in American Cultural History from the University of Vermont. After graduation in 1974, he served as Curator of Research at the Portland Museum of Art until the late 1970s.

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Location: online via Zoom. REGISTER

Wednesday, July 13, 4:00 pm

In-person event
Summer in Maine, Summer in the City: Four Poets Reading in the Longfellow Garden

RAIN DATE: Friday, July 15
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow always found inspiration for his poetry at his childhood home in Portland, so what better place to gather and enjoy the words of some modern Maine poets than the Longfellow Garden? Join us live and in-person for a midsummer evening of verses and visiting in the heart of Longfellow’s “beautiful town…seated by the sea”.

About the Poets:

SALLY BLIUMIS-DUNN teaches Modern Poetry at Manhattanville College and offers individual manuscript conferences at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. In 2002, she was a finalist for the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize. She is the author of three books of poetry and divides her time between the Hudson Valley and Brunswick, Maine.

SUSANA H. CASE is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press and the author of eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done (Broadstone Books, 2022). Dead Shark on the N Train (Broadstone Books, 2020) won a Pinnacle Book Award for Best Poetry Book and a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite She is also the author of five chapbooks. Case recently retired as Professor from the New York Institute of Technology in New York City, where she taught for 38 years.

BETSY SHOLL teaches in the MFA in Writing Program of Vermont College of Fine Arts and served as Poet Laureate of Maine from 2006 to 2011. Her collection of poetry House of Sparrows: New and Selected Poems (University of Wisconsin, 2019) was the winner of the Four Lakes Prize. Her other past awards include a Maine Book Award for Poetry, The Felix Pollak Prize, the AWP Prize for Poetry, and the 2020 Distinguished Achievement Award from Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.

MARGO TAFT STEVER is the founder of the Hudson Valley Writers Center and founding and current co-editor of Slapering Hol Press. She has published three full-length poetry collections, four chapbooks, and her poems have appeared in several literary magazines. She is currently an adjunct assistant professor in the Bioethics Department of the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University and she also teaches a poetry workshop at Children’s Village, a residential school for at-risk children and adolescents. Her family has long ties to Maine.

Cost: Free and open to the public, seating is limited.

Location: Longfellow Garden, 489 Congress Street, Portland

Ongoing Programs

Wadsworth-Longfellow House Tours - June–October. See details.

Exhibition Galleries (self-guided) - See details.

Historical Walking Tours of Portland - See details.

Current Exhibitions

Begin Again exhibit logo

Northern Threads:
Two Centuries of Dress
at Maine Historical Society

Part I: Clothing circa 1780–1889:
March 16–July 30, 2022
   Part II: Clothing circa 1890–1980:
August 12–December 31, 2022

MHSinpictures exhibit logo

Maine Historical Society in Pictures: Exploring Our First 200 Years
March 16–May 21, 2022


John Martin's 19th century fashion illustrations graphic

Representing every particular: John Martin's 19th century fashion illustrations
March 16–August 6, 2022


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.