Listen to audio podcasts of public lectures, programs, and events from the Maine Historical Society. Learn more about our programs.
With William Barry, MHS Research Historian
Talk & Pop-Up Exhibition: Capt. William G. Kair and The Scandinavians of Maine
Recorded July 26, 2019 - A gift to MHS, donated through the Grime family descendants of Capt. William G. Kair (Kjar) and his wife Rebecca Orde, offers a glimpse of Scandinavian families new to Maine during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Kair gift includes a sublime painting by Portland artist George M. Hathaway of The Bark Alice, Capt. Kair's vessel. Created by one of Maine's foremost marine artists, the painting speaks to both her Danish-born captain and his family life in Portland. The Kair collection is one of many fine examples of Scandinavian heritage within the MHS collections. This talk by MHS Research Historian William Barry featured exhibited highlights within a companion mini-exhibit "Recreating Hygge: Scandinavians in the Pine Tree State."
Book Talk with Dr. Carol Gardner
Involuntary Americans: Scottish Prisoners in Early Colonial Maine
Recorded May 23, 2019 - Author Carol Gardner will discussed the lives of some of Maine's earliest European settlers: prisoners of war who were sent to Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts against their wills, in 1650 to 1651. As forced laborers and later, as free men, these soldiers left their marks on early New England society, and evidence of their existence is with us today. Dr. Gardner's latest historical narrative, THE INVOLUNTARY AMERICAN: A Scottish Prisoner's Journey to the New World, chronicles the life and times of Scottish foot soldier Thomas Doughty. Captured at the Battle of Dunbar, Doughty was shipped to Boston, sold to a Puritan industrialist in New Hampshire, and eventually established his own milling operation on the Saco River in Maine.
Book Talk & Signing with Tilly Laskey
Precious and Adored: The Love Letters of Rose Cleveland and Evangeline Simpson Whipple
Recorded May 16, 2019 - Listen to Tilly Laskey for a fascinating talk of her book PRECIOUS AND ADORED: The Love Letters of Rose Cleveland and Evangeline Simpson Whipple, 1890–1918. Co-edited with Lizzie Ehrenhalt, with a Foreword by Lillian Faderman, the book presents captivating letters, published in their entirety, that document nearly 30 years of love between two women of the Gilded Age.
In 1890, Rose Cleveland, sister of President Grover Cleveland, began writing to Evangeline Simpson, a wealthy widow who would become the second wife of Henry Whipple, Minnesota's Episcopal bishop. The women corresponded across states and continents, discussing their advocacy and humanitarian work—and demonstrating their sexual attraction, romance, and partnership. In 1910, after Evangeline Whipple was again widowed, the two women sailed to Italy and began a life together. After Rose Cleveland's death, Evangeline Whipple described her as "my precious and adored life-long friend." This collection, rare in its portrayal of nineteenth-century LGBTQ history, brings their poignant story back to life.
The Land that Sustains Us: Stories from the Field
with Maine Farmland Trust
Recorded November 15, 2018 - No matter how many seasons they have been with their soil, farmers develop a strong connection with their land. For each farmer, this relationship is unique and therefore, manifests differently into the food we eat and the communities we live in. Maine Farmland Trust hosted three farmers for a live storytelling night at the Maine Historical Society to explore these relationships.
Child Hunger in Maine: Moving Towards a Solution
Recorded September 13, 2018 - In conjunction with MHS's yearlong Maine Eats exhibition and in recognition of National Hunger Awareness month, we are pleased to partner with Full Plates Full Potential to present a forum exploring pathways out of Maine's unsavory history of childhood food insecurity. The discussion was moderated by MHS's Executive Director, Steve Bromage and panelists included Jean LaPointe, School Food Service Director for RSU 10, David Turin, Chef at David's Restaurant and hunger advocate, Mike Norton, Director of Community Relations at Hannaford and Justin Alfond, Former President of the Maine State Senate and Co-Founder of Full Plates Full Potential.
Book Talk: Maine Roads to Gettysburg
Recorded July 12, 2018 - The story of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry on Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg has entered into legend. But there's much more to Maine at Gettysburg than that one regiment. The state's soldiers made their presence felt all over the Pennsylvania battlefield during three days of fighting in July 1863—and during the two years of war before that. In a talk about his book, Maine Roads to Gettysburg, author Tom Huntington tells stories about soldiers from the Pine Tree State who made their presence felt during the Civil War's biggest battle.
Book Talk: Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip's War by Lisa Brooks
Recorded March 22, 2018 - In Our Beloved Kin, Lisa Brooks recovers a complex picture of war, captivity, and Native resistance during the "First Indian War" (later named King Philip's War) by relaying the stories of Weetamoo, a female Wampanoag leader, and James Printer, a Nipmuc scholar, whose stories converge in the captivity of Mary Rowlandson. Through both a narrow focus on Weetamoo, Printer, and their network of relations, and a far broader scope that includes vast Indigenous geographies, Brooks leads us to a new understanding of the history of colonial New England and of American origins. Brooks’s pathbreaking scholarship is grounded not just in extensive archival research but also in the land and communities of Native New England, reading the actions of actors during the seventeenth century alongside an analysis of the landscape and interpretations informed by tribal history.
Lives of Consequence with Patricia Wall
Patricia Q. Wall
Recorded February 10, 2018 - Through her new book, Lives of Consequence: Blacks in Early Kittery & Berwick in the Massachusetts Province of Maine, author Patricia Q. Wall reveals new startling information about the era of slavery in Maine's earliest settled region. Based on six years of intense research, Mrs. Wall’s wealth of findings not only banish the old myth of slavery's scarcity in Maine, they clearly point to significant impact of the labor, skills, and knowledge of hundreds of enslaved Blacks (i.e. Africans, Native Americans and people of mixed African, white and/or Native American heritage) on slave-owning families and on early economic development of communities and towns.
Patricia Wall's book is available in the MHS Museum Store or online here.
Maine History Maker Award Honoring the Cianchette Family
Recorded October 24, 2017 - Maine Historical Society’s annual celebration Maine History Maker Award honoring the Cianchette Family
Each year Maine Historical Society recognizes traditions of innovation, leadership, and commitment to community that have defined Maine throughout its history. Maine Historical Society selected the Cianchette family as its 2017 Maine History Maker. The award honors the direct descendants of Ralph and Edna Cianchette—their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. 100 years of Cianchette family history reflects essential aspects of the Maine experience—Ralph's immigration to Maine, his sons' service during World War II, and the brothers' hustle and acumen in building Cianbro, Main Line Fence and other businesses. Now, in this century, we see the many ways in which their children and grandchildren continue to lead in diverse endeavors. Cianchette leadership—past, present, and future—is what we honor.
Watch the video of the presentation, the interview with Ken Cianchette, and the panel discussion.
Book Talk with Richard Rubin, author of The Last of the Doughboys and Back Over There
Richard Rubin, author
Recorded April 20, 2017 - In The Last of the Doughboys, Richard Rubin introduced readers to a forgotten generation of Americans: the men and women who fought and won the First World War. But he soon came to realize that to get the whole story, he had to go Over There, too. So he did, and discovered that while most Americans regard that war as dead and gone, to the French, who still live among its ruins and memories, it remains very much alive. Based on his wildly popular New York Times series, Back Over There is a timely journey, in turns reverent and iconoclastic but always fascinating, through a place where the past and present are never really separated.
The World War I Color Crisis: Dyes, Chemistry and Clothing
Jacqueline Field, adjunct curator
Recorded February 23, 2017 - Costume historian and adjunct curator of MHS, Jacqueline Field, discusses the economic implications of world war. Prior to World War I, Germany provided the world’s supply of textiles dyes. As the war began, embargoes were imposed and trade routes disrupted. The lack of dyes forced American industries to scramble and figure out to create their own dyes effectively. White became very fashionable in the meantime. Hear about the impact of this economic shift and visit us to see the beautiful fashions on display in the World War I and the Maine Experience exhibition.
A Conversation with Lucas St. Clair
Recorded January 12, 2017 - Listen to a conversation between Lucas St. Clair, the man behind the newly named North Woods national monument, and Steve Bromage, MHS Executive Director. The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine’s northern woods region came by the determination and grit of St. Clair. This federally protected land promises to revolutionize the region’s economy, but it did not happen without controversy. Questions about its future still remain.
Guests learned about this vast area of land given to the American people, and had an opportunity to ask their own questions. Audio quality is faint at times but it's worth a listen!!
Creating Acadia National Park: the Biography of George Bucknam Dorr Book Talk
Dr. Ronald Epp, author and historian
Recorded October 26, 2016 - Author and historian Dr. Ronald Epp speaks about his important book, documenting Dorr's pivotal role in the creation of Acadia National Park. The first biography of George B. Dorr ever written, Creating Acadia National Park: the Biography of George Bucknam Dorr is based on painstaking research both in the US and abroad, including federal, state, and private archives. Newly-discovered and uncatalogued sources are supplemented by in-person interviews.
Written in Granite: Acadia's Changeable Histories
Mount Desert Historical Society Executive Director Tim Garrity
Recorded September 22, 2016 - 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 tell us as much about the time of the park's founding as it does about the more distant past. In this illustrated lecture, reprized from the MHS Annual Meeting in 2016, Tim Garrity reflects on the history of the park as we understand it now and as the founders understood it a century ago.
Walking Through History: Portland, Maine on Foot Book Launch
Paul Ledman, Author
Recorded August 11, 2016 - In Walking Through History: Portland, Maine on Foot, Paul Ledman brings the city’s history to life through photos and maps, appealing to city residents as well as its visitors.
Enjoy this short talk by Ledman at the book launch for Walking Through History: Portland, Maine on Foot.
The Great Portland Fire: Panel Discussion Featuring Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr.
Recorded July 6, 2016 - In companion to Images of Destruction: Remembering the Great Portland Fire of 1866--our exhibit examining the city's devastating fire of July 4, 1866--enjoy the fascinating look at the history behind this infamous event. On this sesquicentennial anniversary of the fire, former State Representative Herb Adams lead a discussion with Maine State Historian Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr., and authors Allan Levinsky and Michael Daicy on the reason for the fire, its impact on the city of Portland, how the city rose from the ashes to rebuild, and the ephemera and memory of this important event on generations of Portland families.
Watch the Video
Images of Destruction: Remembering the Great Portland Fire of 1866 and related programs are supported by Luminato Condos: Building inspiration for a city on the rise.
Book Talk: Maine Nursing: Interviews and History on Caring and Competence
Recorded June 23, 2016 - Through historical anecdotes and fascinating oral histories, Maine Nursing: Interviews and History on Caring and Competence explores the remarkable sacrifices and achievements of Maine's nurses who have served tirelessly as caregivers and partners in healing at home and abroad, from hospitals to battlefields. Authors Susan Henderson and Juliana L'Heureux talk about their book.
Book Talk: The Phantom Punch
Rob Sneddon, journalist and sports historian
Recorded May 25, 2016 - Journalist and sports historian Rob Sneddon discussed the infamous Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston fight of May 25, 1965, which ended in chaos at a high school hockey rink in Lewiston, Maine. Sneddon dug deep into the fight's background and delivered new perspective on boxing promotion in the 1960s; on Ali's rapid rise and Liston's sudden fall; on how the bout ended up in Lewiston--and, of course, on Ali's phantom punch. That single lightning-quick blow triggered a complex chain reaction of events that few people understood, either then or now. The following clip was shown at the lecture: Muhammad Ali Vs Sonny Liston II | Full Match 1965.
Artist Talk: Pigeon's Mainer Project: street art meets history
Recorded March 10, 2016 - Orson Horchler, aka Pigeon, discusses the exhibition Pigeon's Mainer Project: street art meets history, his process, and inspiration behind his work. He leads a discussion about immigration, questioning and debunking the notion of who gets to call themselves a "Mainer."
Book Event: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in Portland, The Fireside Poet of Maine
Speaker: John Babin, MHS Visitor Services Manager
Recorded October 27, 2015 - Maine Historical Society Visitor Services Manager John Babin—who has led tours in the Wadsworth-Longfellow House for more than a decade—talks about his new book on Longfellow. You'll feel as though you've stepped back in time to the poet's early days and landed in 19th century Portland—the bustling seaport town that so heavily influenced his life and work. Other speakers include Kathy Amoroso, Maine Memory Network; Alan Levinsky, co-author; and Herb Adams.
Book Event: French and Indian Wars in Maine
Speaker: Michael Dekker
Recorded October 20, 2015 - For eight decades, an epic power struggle raged across a frontier that would become Maine. Between 1675 and 1759, British, French and Native Americans clashed in six distinct wars to stake and defend their land claims. Author Michael Dekker, a former trustee on the Lincoln County Historical Society board of directors and a member of the Boothbay Region Historical Society, shares his extensive research on the wars.
Annual Maine History Maker Award: Honoring the Mills Family
Recorded September 28, 2015 - Each year Maine Historical Society recognizes an individual in Maine who has made significant contributions to the community through the Maine History Maker Award. This year, we honored the Mills Family: Dora, Janet, Paul, and Peter.
The Mills family represents a wide swath of Maine culture and economy – spanning politics, education, civil service, community engagement and development, law, government, and public health. We are excited to honor this Maine family as they reflect the values and attributes of the Maine History Maker Award. Janet Mills serves as Maine's Attorney General; Peter Mills is the Executive Director of the Maine Turnpike Authority and former State Representative; Paul Mills is an attorney and principal at the Farmington law firm Mills & Mills; and Dora Mills has had a long career in public health and currently serves as Vice President for Clinical Affairs at the University of New England.
Presented in partnership with Maine Humanities Council and Portland Public Library
The Civil War in American Memory: Legacies in Our Time
David Blight, Professor of History, Yale University
Recorded May 7, 2015 - No historical event has left as deep an imprint on America's collective memory as the Civil War. In the war's aftermath, Americans had to embrace and cast off a traumatic past. Yale historian David Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, explores the perilous path of remembering and forgetting, and reveals the war's tragic costs to race relations and America's national reunion. Read a full bio of the speaker.
Professor Blight's lecture was the culminating public event of a three-year collaboration between Maine Historical Society and Maine Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded Local and Legendary: Maine and the Civil War project.
Presented in partnership with Spirits Alive
Post Mortem Mourning Practices in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century New England
Speaker: Libby Bischof, Associate Professor of History, USM
Recorded January 31, 2015 - In addition to wearing only black apparel for up to a year, mourners in 18th and 19th century New England abided by fashions and customs that demonstrated intense grief. Libby Bischof, Associate Professor of History at the University of Southern Maine and a board member of Spirits Alive, the friend's group of Portland's historic Eastern Cemetery, explored these practices, utilizing examples from Maine Historical Society's collections.
In partnership with Osher Map Library
The Emergence of Portland: Early Homes and Early Maps
Speaker: Matthew Edney, Osher Professor in the History of Cartography, University of Southern Maine
Recorded January 22, 2015 - Matthew Edney, Osher Professor in the History of Cartography at the University of Southern Maine, uses the collections of the Maine Historical Society and USM’s Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education to analyze urban maps as cultural documents and interpret Portland’s spatial history from the colonial era through the nineteenth century. Early maps of Portland manifest the duality of Portland, as a conventional city and a port city.
View Slides (PDF) as you listen to podcast.
A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience
Speaker: Emerson "Tad" Baker
Recorded January 8, 2015 - Author Emerson "Tad" Baker explores the catalog of explanations that have been put forward over the years to solve the mystery of what happened during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. Behind the events in Salem and surrounding towns was a unique convergence of conditions, including a new charter and government, a grim and bloody frontier war in Maine, and sectarian and political power-struggles. Baker is a professor of history at Salem State University and the award-winning author of many works on the history of early Maine and New England.
Presented in partnership with University of Maine's Canadian-American Center, History Department, and Humanities Center
Reflections on Editing the Historical Atlas of Maine: A Scholarly Epic
Speaker: Richard Judd, Professor of History, University of Maine
Recorded December 9, 2014 - After more than a decade of extensive research, the Historical Atlas of Maine presents in cartographic form--maps, paintings, graphs, and text--the historical geography of Maine from the end of the last ice age to the year 2000. Organized in four chronological sections, the Atlas tells the principal stories of the many people who have lived in Maine over the past 13,000 years. Dr. Richard Judd, professor of history at the University of Maine, spoke about co-editing the Atlas with Stephen J. Hornsby.
Portland’s Irish in the Civil War
Speaker: Matthew Jude Barker
Recorded December 2, 2014 - Did you know that the second-youngest recipient ever of the Medal of Honor was 14-year old John Anglin, son of Irish emigrants who grew up near Gorham's Corner? Or that Colonel Patrick R. Guiney, leader of Boston's Fighting Irish Ninth, also hailed from Portland? Hundreds of Irishmen and boys from Portland fought in the war, and more than 90 were killed or died from their wounds or disease. Fascinating facts like these are being unearthed by historian and genealogist Matthew Jude Barker as he works on his second book.
Maine During the Civil War
Speaker: Lee Webb
Recorded November 18, 2014 - A PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Maine, Webb has been researching and writing extensively about Maine politics and culture during the war. He shared his research in this talk relating to the traveling exhibition, Lincoln: The Constitution & the Civil War, which was on display in the Brown Library from November 12 to December 20.
Free and Responsible Government: The Long Shadow of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Speaker: Jared Peatman
Recorded November 14, 2014 - Historian Jared Peatman, author of The Long Shadow of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (2013), spoke at the opening reception of the traveling exhibition, Lincoln: The Constitution & the Civil War. His talk revealed the interconnected history between the United States Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, and constitutional theory around the world.
An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America
Speaker: Nicholas Bunker
Recorded October 2, 2014 - Written from a strikingly fresh perspective, this account of the Boston Tea Party and the origins of the American Revolution shows how a lethal blend of politics, personalities, and economics led to a war that few people welcomed but nobody could prevent. Publishers Weekly says, “A nuanced global analysis of Britain’s failure to hold onto its American colonies. . . riveting. . . With a sharp eye for economic realities, Bunker persuasively demonstrates why the American Revolution had to happen.” Nick Bunker is the author of Making Haste from Babylon. He was a journalist for the Liverpool Echo and the Financial Times, and then an investment banker. He lives in Lincolnshire, England.
Annual Maine History Maker Award: Honoring Vincent Veroneau, President and CEO of J.B. Brown & Sons
Earle Shettleworth, Vin Verioneau
Recorded September 30, 2014 - Each year MHS recognizes an individual in Maine who has made significant contributions to the community through the Maine History Maker Award. This award honors contemporary citizens who are shaping Maine today. In 2014 we honored Vin Veroneau of J.B. Brown & Sons. Listen to the presentation and the history of the Brown family in Portland presented by Earle Shettleworth.
Presented in partnership with American and New England Studies Program, USM
What's Laundry Got to do With it?: Caring for the Body in the 19th Century United States
Speaker: Kathleen M. Brown, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania
Recorded September 18, 2014 - The author of Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America imagined what body care and hygiene may have been like in the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Nineteenth century Americans were not the first people to read the body for telltale signs of virtue or moral weakness, but they came to these judgments in the context of new standards and practices of body care. Kathleen Brown is a historian of gender and race in early America and the Atlantic World. She is also the author of Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (Chapel Hill, 1996), which won the Dunning Prize of the American Historical Association for best book by a junior scholar.
Ed Muskie: Made in Maine, 1914-1960
Speaker: James Witherell
Recorded September 16, 2014 - 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 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).
A Special Evening with Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
Speaker: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
Recorded September 4, 2014 - During this Special Evening with Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the granddaughter of Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt shared anecdotes, talked about Ken Burns's PBS series "The Roosevelts," and discussed family legacy.
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
Speaker: Allan M. Levinsky
Recorded September 2, 2014 - Retired Maine Historical Society Visitor Service Coordinator Allan Levinsky is also an accomplished historian with several books under his belt. In this book talk, he shares the first-person stories and dramatic events surrounding the infamous Portland fire of 1866.
Neighborhood Heroes: Life Lessons from Maine's Greatest Generation
Speaker: Morgan Rielly
Recorded August 19, 2014 - 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 collected in Neighborhood Heroes, published by Down East Books. The author shares some of these compelling stories, and how he was inspired to begin the project in the first place.
Presented in partnership with Pine Tree Council, Boy Scouts of America
Lost on a Mountain in Maine: 75th Anniversary Event
Speakers: Donn Fendler and Ryan Cook, Filmmaker
Recorded August 16, 2014 - 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, hosted an afternoon with Donn and the filmmaker working to bring the story to the big screen. The event included 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, and a book signing.
View video highlights of the event.
Portland Food: The Culinary Capital of Maine
Speaker: Kate McCarty
Recorded July 24, 2014 - Portland's vibrant food scene boasts more than 300 restaurants, as well as specialty food businesses, farmers' markets, pop-up dinners, and food trucks. How did it evolve over the past several decades into the city that regularly makes national "best of" lists today for its foodie culture? Dig into Portland's bounty, and its historical rise to food prominence, in this talk by local food writer Kate McCarty, author of the new book, Portland Food.
In partnership with Maine Audubon
Student Spotlight Talk: Defining a Nuisance: Pollution, Science, and Environmental Politics on Maine's Androscoggin River
Speaker: Wallace Scot McFarlane
Recorded July 22, 2014 - Based on original research from an honors project completed at Bowdoin College in 2009 and a subsequent article published in Environmental History, Scot McFarlane explores the birth of the environmental movement in Maine by focusing on the heavily polluted Androscoggin River. Scot McFarlane’s honors thesis was a co-winner of the 2009 Bowdoin History Department’s Class of 1875 Prize in American History; he conducted some of his research in the MHS Library. In 2011, he received a master of arts degree in teaching from Tufts University while simultaneously teaching humanities at Codman Academy Charter School in Boston.
African Americans & the U.S. Government During and After the Civil War
Speaker: Chandra Manning, Associate Professor of History, Georgetown University
Recorded May 8, 2014 - How did the relationship between former slaves and the United States government change during and after the Civil War? Georgetown University Associate Professor of History Chandra Manning shares her research on this complex and evolving relationship, and how it affected the relationship between the federal government and all individuals in the United States. Manning is the author of What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War (Knopf, 2007), which won the won the Avery Craven Prize awarded by the Organization of American Historians and earned Honorable Mention for the Lincoln Prize, the Jefferson Davis Prize.
The 2014 Olmsted Lecture,
in partnership with the Olmsted Alliance
Sanitary Concerns: Portlander Harriet Eaton, State Relief Work, and the Fight over Federal Benevolence during the Civil War
Speaker: Jane Schultz, Professor of English and the Medical Humanities, and Director of Literature, at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
Recorded April 24, 2014 - Maine state relief workers like Harriet Eaton and Isabella Fogg were less certain than Frederick Law Olmsted—who, thanks to his administrative skill overseeing the creation of Central Park, was asked to head the U.S. Sanitary Commission during the Civil War—that federal benevolence was the best way to care for Maine's boys in blue. For the 2014 Olmsted Lecture, Professor Jane Schultz shows how and why Mainers resisted the sweep of a national relief structure, preferring instead to put the interests of the state ahead of federal bureaucracy. Schultz is the author of Women at the Front (University of North Carolina, 2004), a study of gender and relief work in American Civil War military hospitals; it was a finalist for the 2005 Lincoln Prize. In 2010 Professor Schultz published This Birth Place of Souls (Oxford), an annotated edition of the diary of Portlander Harriet Bacon Eaton, one of the last extant Civil War nursing diaries.
In partnership with the Baxter Society and Maine Humanities Council
Everyone's Town: Thornton Wilder's Legacy
Speaker: Penelope Niven
Recorded April 10, 2014 - Although Our Town, which turned 75 in 2013, was set in a small New Hampshire village and written in 1938, its universality has made it a favorite of theater companies and schools for decades. Wilder biographer Penelope Niven shares the story of his life (and his Maine ancestry), how Wilder came to write the play, and the special appeal of its themes of the passage of time and small-town life. Penelope Niven's 2012 biography of Wilder (Thornton Wilder: A Life, Harper), was deemed “the best kind of literary biography” by the Washington Post. Niven, who passed away in 2014, was also the acclaimed author of Carl Sandburg: A Biography and Steichen: A Biography. She was the recipient of the North Carolina Award in Literature.
Portland's Chinese Restaurants
Speaker: Gary Libby
Recorded March 4, 2014 - Attorney, amateur historian, author, and former MHS trustee, Gary Libby, talks about his long history of researching and publishing on Maine's Chinese community, as part of special programming relating to Maine Restaurant Week. Gary shares history and collection highlights from the variety of Chinese restaurants that have existed in Portland over the years. Gary is the author of “Historical Notes on Chinese Restaurants in Portland, Maine” (2006), published in the journal Chinese America: History and Perspectives, as well as the book They Changed their Sky, about Maine's Irish Community.
This program was made possible by funding from Rabelais: Fine Books on Food & Drink, in Biddeford and online.
Presented in partnership with Maine Irish Heritage Center
The Irish of Portland, Maine: A History of Forest City Hibernians
Speaker: Matthew Jude Barker
Recorded February 11, 2014 - The Irish have influenced the city of Portland since it was first established in the 17th century. Today’s vibrant Catholic community owes its origins to Irish immigrants in Portland’s earliest days, when beloved leaders like Father French provided solace to souls far from home. Portland resident Matthew Jude Barker, genealogist and historian at the Maine Irish Heritage Center in Portland, talks about his new book, which explores the triumphs and challenges of Portland's Irish community prior to the twentieth century.
Highlights of MHS's Sheet Music Collection: Maine Fiddler Mellie Dunham
Speaker: David Sanderson
Recorded January 14, 2014 - As a complement to the MHS Shettleworth Lecture Hall exhibit "Dear Old Maine I’m Coming Back:" Home & Hearth Reflected in the MHS Sheet Music Collection traditional music enthusiast and fiddler David Sanderson offers an account of the life and musical career of Norway Maine fiddler Mellie Dunham. Mellie Dunham was among the most famous figures in America during 1925 and 1926. A local farmer, snowshoe maker, and dance fiddler, Dunham was propelled to notoriety when he was invited to visit and play for Henry Ford; he then spent six months performing on the Keith Vaudeville circuit. This talk includes original 78 rpm recordings played on Sanderson's 1914 Victrola.
The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World
Speaker: Lincoln Paine
Recorded December 12, 2013 - Portland resident Lincoln Paine takes us on a monumental tour of human history through the lens of the sea. The 2013 book reveals in depth how people first came into contact with one another by ocean and river, and how goods, languages, religions, and entire cultures spread across and along the world's waterways. Lincoln Paine is the author of four books and more than fifty articles, reviews, and lectures on various aspects of maritime history.
Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science
Speaker: Christoph Irmscher
Recorded November 7, 2013 - Indiana University-Bloomington Professor of English Christoph Irmscher speaks about his most recent book, Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science. A Longfellow contemporary, Agassiz bridged the gap between specialist and amateur in 19th century America, changing ordinary people’s relationship with science forever. But he also racist viewpoints that led Americans to expect scientists to comment on race policy. The Christian Science Monitor calls the biography "a groundbreaking book" and the New York Times Book Review praised Irmscher as a "richly descriptive writer with an eye for detail [and the] complexities and contradictions of character."
Irmscher, a native of Germany, has taught at the University of Tennesse-Knoxville, Harvard University, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
In partnership with Maine Audubon
Book Event: The Changing Nature of the Maine Woods
Speaker: Andrew Barton
Recorded October 22, 2013 - Using a diverse range of historical and ecological evidence, University of Maine at Farmington Professor of Biology Drew Barton discusses the past, present, and future of the Maine Woods. Drew reads narrative selections from his recent book, The Changing Nature of the Maine Woods, and discusses the natural and human-caused changes over the past 15,000 years. He peers into the future to assess how key ecological forces such as climate change, insects and disease, nonnative organisms, and changing land use are likely to further alter the forests of Maine.
Presented in partnership with the American and New England Studies Program, University of Southern Maine
Book Event: Another City Upon A Hill
Speaker: Joseph Conforti
Recorded October 17, 2013 - Joe Conforti, Distinguished Professor of American and New England Studies Emeritus at the University of Southern Maine, gives his first talk in Maine about his memoir, Another City Upon a Hill. The book is both a personal story and a portrait of a distinctive New England place—Fall River, Massachusetts, once the cotton cloth capital of America. Conforti, whose mother was Portuguese and father was Italian, recounts how he negotiated those identities in a city where ethnic heritage mattered. Simultaneously, he shares the multi-generational story of these immigrants groups making their way in a once mighty textile city that had fallen on hard times beginning in the 1920s. Conforti is the author of five books, including Saints and Strangers: New England in British North America and the acclaimed Imagining New England.
The Shadow and the Substance: Civil War Photography
Speaker: Elizabeth Bischof, Associate Professor of History, University of Southern Maine
Recorded October 10, 2013 - Photography was still in its infancy during the Civil War, but it was artfully employed as a new and powerful tool to tell the story of the battlefields and beyond. University of Southern Maine history professor Libby Bischof delivers a presentation about the impact of this new technology on American perception of war and death.
Book Event: The Last of the Doughboys
Speaker: Richard Rubin
Recorded September 19, 2013 - Maine author Richard Rubin, gives a talk on his acclaimed 2013 book, The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World. The Boston Globe calls the book, “engaging . . . memorable . . . The book succeeds by creating degrees of connection, even as it reshapes our consciousness." Rubin shares his decade-long journey to find and interview living veterans of the “Great War”--all of whom are now gone.
Student Spotlight: A Land Without Peace: Indians, Colonists, Speculators, and the Struggle for Maine, 1688-1763
Speaker: Ian Saxine, Ph.D. Candidate, Northwestern University
Recorded July 23, 2013 - In 2012, thanks to a Graduate Research Grant from Northwestern University, Ph.D. candidate Ian Saxine spent six months at the MHS library researching how different ideas about land ownership between Indians and colonists led to decades of violence in frontier Maine. In this "Student Spotlight" presentation, Ian shares the fruits of his research.
Student Spotlight: When the Confederates Terrorized Maine: The Battle of Portland Harbor
Speaker: Carter Stevens, 2013 Colby College Graduate
Recorded July 9, 2013 - Recent Colby College graduate Carter Stevens presents a talk based on his thesis about the 1863 Confederate raid on the city of Portland. While the maritime battle ended with the Confederates surrendering, a U.S. Revenue Cutter was sunk. Stevens's research covers the details of the battle, how it was reported in local and national media, the reactions of Mainers to the raid, and how this small incident fits into the larger picture of the Civil War.
Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America
Speaker: Ernest Freeberg, Distinguished Professor of Humanities, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Recorded March 28, 2013 - Ernest Freeberg, author of Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America, which Publishers Weekly calls "illuminating," delivers the keynote talk related to the 2012-13 museum exhibit, Wired! How Electricity Came to Maine. Dr. Freeberg shares his research on the inventor and the Menlo Park laboratory environment, the history of electric light generally, and how that technology shaped American culture.
Book Event: Waltzing with Bracey
Speaker: Brenda Gilchrist
Recorded November 13, 2012 - Author Brenda Gilchrist talks about her memoir, Waltzing with Bracey: A Long Reach Home, about her journey back to Maine, and to the Deer Isle cottage of her ancestors, to claim her place in the world. The cottage, coincidentally, was designed by Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry's nephew. Joining her on the adventure is Bracey, her Corgi, who helps her negotiate the rambling pile of a house, the ghosts that live there, and this unique place on the Maine coast. Gilchrist was Senior Editor in Charge of the Art Books Division at Praeger Publishers, and General Editor of The Smithsonian Illustrated Library of Antiques series.
Power to the People: The Story of Rural Electrification in America
Speaker: Jane Brox
Recorded October 25, 2012 - As part of an ongoing series of talks related to the 2012-13 museum exhibit Wired: How Electricity Came to Maine, Jane Brox focuses on the topic of rural electrification, the process that brought electricity to America's countrysides and farm families in the early part of the 20th century. In addition to the extensive research on the topic that she did for her acclaimed 2010 Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light, Brox brings a personal angle to the subject, based on her trilogy of memoirs about her family's farm in Massachusetts and the evolution of the American farm in general.
Book Event: The Reverend Jacob Bailey Maine Loyalist: For God, King, Country, and for Self
Speaker: James S. Leamon
Recorded October 2, 2012 - What were the reasons for--and the price of--loyalism during the American Revolution? James Leamon, Bates College professor of history emeritus, explores the complexities of the Loyalist stance in his new book, The Reverend Jacob Bailey Maine Loyalist: For God, King, Country, and for Self. Bailey, a former Congregational preacher, converted to the Church of England and became an Anglican missionary in Pownalborough (now Dresden). There he refused to renounce allegiance to King George or to publicize the Declaration of Independence from his pulpit. He and his family eventually were forced into exile in Nova Scotia for his beliefs, where Bailey wrote obsessively about the trauma of opposing the Revolution. Leamon relies on much of that writing--particularly journals and correspondence--to reveal how Bailey came to feel the way he did, and how revolutionary ideas clashed with more traditional convictions of order and hierarchy.
Book Event: When We Were the Kennedys
Speaker: Monica Wood
Recorded September 27, 2012 - Maine author Monica Wood presents her latest book, When We Were the Kennedys which the Maine Sunday Telegram calls "a marvel of storytelling." Subtitled A Memoir from Mexico, Maine, the story takes place in 1963, beginning with the April morning when Wood's father, a foreman at Oxford Paper Company, died on his way to work. From there, the book follows three deeply entwined threads: grief and renewal; the assassination of JFK; and the paper mill's first protracted labor strike. Wood's talk highlights that bygone era: the mill’s founding, its impact on the region, and a moment in time when everything started to change. In addition to When We Were the Kennedys, Wood is the author of four works of fiction.
Book Event: John McDonald's Maine Trivia: A Storyteller's Useful Guide to Useless Information
Speaker: Storyteller John McDonald
Recorded July 26, 2012 - Professional storyteller John McDonald, author of the now-classic A Moose and a Lobster Walk into a Bar, offers up his unique take on Maine trivia. John delivers an educational and hilarious mix of basic and fun facts about the Pine Tree State, including, of course, more than a few wicked funny stories, and the illustrations by Mark Ricketts add spice to the stories. Readers are sure to learn a lot about both the Pine Tree State and the United States, as well as have a few laughs in the process.
Book Event: Maine: The Wilder Half of New England
Speaker: Historian William David Barry
Recorded July 12, 2012 - A concise, solid, and surprising overview of 500 years of Maine history, Maine: the Wilder Half of New England, ranges from first contact between Native Americans and European explorers to the achievement of a Down East identity, national political power, and worldwide cultural identification. Historian and MHS staff member Barry explorers how changes in the economy, religion, ethnicity, arts, leisure, and education have all shaped Maine and Mainers, with some intriguing results.
(Re) Designing the Greater Portland Landscape: Issues in Contemporary Design and Development (Program 4 of 4) Series details.
On the Waterfront: Heritage, Re-use, and Economic Development
Recorded May 15, 2012 - Development and use of the Portland waterfront is an ongoing policy balancing act, and has significant implications for Portland’s economic development, harborside landscape, and the city’s identity and heritage. This panel presentation explores the issues that the city, developers, business and property owners, fishermen and lobstermen, preservationists, and city residents face and think about when they consider development along the waterfront. In Partnership with Greater Portland Landmarks.
The Richard D’Abate Lectures: Conversations About History, Art, and Literature (Program 6 of 7) Series details.
Saving Second Nature: The Environmental Movement in New England
Speaker: Dr. Richard W. Judd, Professor of History, University of Maine, Orono
Recorded May 10, 2012 - This talk, MHS's 2012 Olmsted lecture, focuses on the pastoral landscapes of New England — the valley farms, familiar woods and fishing ports that became iconic symbols of New England beauty. It explores how farm, village, and woods were idealized and romanticized in the tourist literature and regionalist writing of the late 19th century, and how these idealized images shaped New England environmental politics. Judd is one of the foremost Maine historians and editor of the journal Maine History. (This talk was given this year in honor of Helen Koulouris.
(Re) Designing the Greater Portland Landscape: Issues in Contemporary Design and Development (Program 3 of 4) Series details.
Gateways to Portland: Rebuilding Veterans Memorial and Martin's Point Bridges
Recorded April 24, 2012 - The bridges and roadways that connect Portland to the interstate and surrounding communities play an essential role in the life of the city and are a defining characteristic of its landscape. This panel presentation explorers the rebuilding of the Veterans Memorial and Martin's Point bridges which mobilized diverse stakeholders, and raised issues ranging from cost to traffic efficiency, to the impact on local neighbors. In Partnership with Greater Portland Landmarks.
The Richard D'Abate Lectures: Conversations About History, Art, and Literature (Program 5 of 7) Series details.
The Civil War of 1812
Speaker: Dr. Alan Taylor, Professor of History, University of California, Davis
Recorded April 19, 2012 - The year 2012 marked the bicentennial of the War of 1812, a formative moment in both Maine and U.S. history and the subject of Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Alan Taylor's new book. Taylor tells the riveting story of a war that redefined North America--an often brutal and sometimes comic war--and helps illuminate the tangled origins of the United States and Canada. Taylor, a Portland native, is one of the foremost historians of early America.
The Richard D'Abate Lectures: Conversations About History, Art, and Literature (Program 4 of 7) Series details.
The Nature of Lost Things
Speaker: Rosamond Purcell, Photographer
Recorded April 5, 2012 - Rosamond Purcell speaks about her 2003 book Owls Head: On the Nature of Lost Things in which the unique 13 acres mounded high with scrap, antiques, and historical ephemera owned by William Buckminster. One day, in passing "Bucky" mentioned that the only person he would like to have acquire his two-centuries-old brass foundry would be the former Director of Maine Historical Society, Richard D'Abate, who, he said "seems like a decent sort of fella." On Bucky’s behalf, Purcell took up the song.
(Re) Designing the Greater Portland Landscape: Issues in Contemporary Design and Development (Program 2 of 4) Series details.
Downtown Corridors: Franklin and Spring Streets
Recorded March 20, 2012 - A panel of presenters examines Portland's downtown corridors, how they help define Portland's urban landscape, and what future development might look like. While roadways like Congress and State Streets are defined by architecture, travel patterns, business and residential development, pedestrian routes, and landscape features, certain corridor--like Franklin and Spring Street--are the source of much dissatisfaction. In Partnership with Greater Portland Landmarks.
The Richard D’Abate Lectures: Conversations About History, Art, and Literature (Program 2 of 7) Series details.
Hold On: The Privilege of Keeping Old Things Safe
Speaker: Nicholson Baker, Author
Recorded March 15, 2012 - In 2001, writer Nicholson Baker published Double Fold, a book about libraries, paper science, and lost history. In it he documented his efforts to save a large collection of beautiful and exceptionally rare newspaper volumes, which were being scrapped in favor of microfilmed replacements. Baker’s forceful case served as a seeming coda to the era of print, and presaged issues and arguments that organizations like MHS face in the digital age. Why, we are asked, do we need to keep all this ephemeral stuff now that it can be digitized? Baker revisits the intellectual underpinnings of his newspaper crusade, shares tales of research recently done in the MHS library, and reminds us of the essentialness of real, physical things.
Longfellow's Shadow: A reading of poems by Wesley McNair and Betsy Sholl
The Richard D'Abate Lectures: Conversations About History, Art, and Literature (Program 1 of 7) Series details.
Recorded March 6, 2012 - Readings by two Maine Poet Laureates. The poets’ readings will reflect themes in Longfellow's poetry, his stance as a poet, and his attitude toward social issues of his time.
(Re) Designing the Greater Portland Landscape: Issues in Contemporary Design and Development (Program 1 of 4) Series details.
Public Parks: Care and Cultivation of Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth
Moderator:Terrence DeWan, Landscape Architect, Panelists: Bill Brownell, Fort Williams Advisory Commission; Lynn Shaffer, Arboretum at Fort Williams; and Dick Gilbane, Friends of Goddard Mansion
Recorded February 21, 2012 - Fort Williams, a town-owned park in Cape Elizabeth, is one of Greater Portland's gems. A former military base and home to the iconic Portland Head Light, the seaside park is one of the region's favorite and most heavily-used recreation sites. However, the cost of maintaining the park and providing access is significant. This panel presentation explorers current initiatives seek to find sustainable funding models, preserve the park's history, character, and architecture, and to define and provide appropriate visitor amenities. In Partnership with Greater Portland Landmarks.