Sharing Some of the Juicy Local News…from 1895

Whenever I get into the old newspapers, I am usually distracted by the other bits and bobs I come across–occupational hazard. Depending on the state of our microfilm readers, I’ll either print out the little gems or make a note of them for later. In the past 8 years I’ve amassed a pretty good pile of tidbits. I’m trying to think of ways to share this information in a meaningful way, and haven’t really come up with anything great yet. If anyone has seen anything cool or has a great idea for disseminating this stuff I’d love to hear about it. Other than that I’ll surely be creating yet another massive index, or adding to the already massive history indexes we have going…which is better than hoarding all this great information, in my book.For example here is a set of three things I have jotted on the back of a printout:

Emmet Baseball Club : (photo) 5-17-1895 : Biddeford Weekly Journal : page 1

Kate Douglas Wiggin-Riggs : (photos) 5-24-1895 : Biddeford Weekly Journal : page 1 – marriage, career

Murder of James M. Hurd, 7 Oak Street, by son Alfred : 12-13-1895 : page 1 [Biddeford Weekly Journal]

I mean, cool stuff right? And there is so much of this. We’ll keep plugging away, but seriously if anyone has any great ideas I am all ears. Cheers!

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New Online Exhibit on Fire History Soon to be Launched!

This is a guest post written by our *fabulous* Archives + Special Collections intern, Dean Smalley. Dean is a graduating senior history major from the University of New England, and has been working for us doing research, writing, and curatorial work. The exhibit will appear on the BIDDEFORD HISTORY & HERITAGE PROJECT ( under the EXHIBITS tab. 

UNE intern Dean Smalley researching fire history for a new online exhibit.

UNE intern Dean Smalley researching fire history for a new online exhibit.


The Biddeford-Saco Fires Exhibit is just about ready to go live on Maine Memory Network! I am very excited for it to be made available for everyone to view. Working with Renee in creating this exhibit has been an incredible experience and learning opportunity. I have never constructed an exhibit wholly based on my own drive and ideas. One thing that I learned is that there is a difference between writing for a museum and writing for the internet. In my experience writing for the Saco Museum, I could tell that I was telling a tale from the past. It was very easy for me to see the narrative in what I was creating. However, with this exhibit, I found that I was having to find the narrative that lied underneath all of the information that I was coming across. It wasn’t like working with a diary account where the story is right in front of you as it is being told to through the perspective of the author.

Instead, I was working with newspaper primary sources. Almost all of these had no accredited author to them because of the time in which they were written. It was like I was being told multiple stories from various authors. So I had to find out what connected tale interlocked all of these accounts of violent fiery disasters. While I found that the tale was that of community connections and solidarity, it was something that I had to discover on my own and then figure out how I would represent that in my writing. I feel like this improved both my analytical and critical thinking skills that I have been developing in my past 4 years at the University of New England.

It is exciting for me to think that there is going to be an exhibit online that is of my own creation. This is something that I direct people to as a point of pride in my own work and accomplishments. However, I cannot forget to give credit to my amazing supervisor, Renee DesRoberts. Without her help none of this would have been remotely possible. She have been more supportive than I could have ever imagined. In the end, All I want to say is go and view the exhibit as soon as it becomes available to do so. The images themselves are enough to make your heart stop.


UPDATE! Access the wonderful exhibit right here:

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Amateur Newspapers – Resources


I was so pleased to get the chance to speak about the Walter Perkins Amateur Newspaper exhibit at Maine Historical Society today, and ramble a bit to a group of captive listeners! :-)

In any event, I do hope everyone got a little something from the talk; whether it was an appreciation for creative youth culture, or a first glimpse into the workings of a digitization project. Here are links to the various web-based resources I mentioned…enjoy!

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Ahhh summers at the Pool…(Biddeford Pool, that is)

Timber Point CenterThe library is so pleased to host a new display which has been organized and curated by the folks at the Timber Point Center. The exhibit, “The Ewing Family: Life at Timber Point”, gives a fascinating peek into the life of one of the numerous families who called Biddeford and Biddeford Pool home during summers of old. The Ewing family, who built the seasonal residence on Timber Point over 1929-1931, are pretty typical of the summer families of the era. Well-to-do urbanites who retreated to the peace, calm and beauty of the Maine coast during the summer season, enjoying family and friendships and a break from the hectic pace of working life.

The display is a vivid snapshot of life for these families, but even more interestingly shines a light on a way of life that many of us do not know about. That is, it shows that these large summer “cottages” and the residents within are somewhat less grand than we may imagine. The Ewings, in particular, seemed to have enjoyed a simple, industrious, and quiet life at Timber Point that you may be surprised by. Even their famous friends seemed to have (happily) come and gone quietly, and perhaps that in itself helps the rest of us understand the draw of this area to the well-heeled…even today.

Please come see this lovely display, it will be up through the beginning of April. You can read about it and catch a sneak-peek at Timber Point Center’s blog:


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Making public domain…public!


Public Domain

It’s Copyright Week. What’s that? you ask. Well, I don’t entirely know, but from what I can tell it’s an awareness project sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation ( and supported by myriad information organizations, including the American Library Assocation ( and of course my beloved Internet Archive ( What excited me about this is the point about working to get more public domain materials into the hands of…gasp! The Public!

I must admit it’s one of my favorite topics.  Maybe it’s working in a public library for all these years, but I do feel strongly that information professionals working with historical materials (or any other open materials for that matter) have a duty to make their materials accessible to patrons. Especially in the case of historical materials…I mean, if you don’t let anyone use the stuff, then what the heck are you keeping it for? Seriously. But, I digress. With the digital tools we now have, and their increasing affordability–we (managers/keepers of historical collections) are running out of excuses for *not* making stuff available more easily. And I’m sorry, but being a proud Luddite is unacceptable in this day and age. (I am absolutely including myself in this admonishment!!!)

So in honor of Copyright Week I’ve added a new item to the Electronic Texts area of the Catablog…the lovely and awesomely illustrated “Dedication Program of the Biddeford High School Annex” from March 1926. This one is so cool! It has great images of the (then) newly built gymnasium, library, and auditorium (among other areas) of the Alfred Street school. Curiosity piqued? Check out an image of the school when it was new on Maine Memory Network.


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Amateur newspaper exhibit launched!

Folks, the library is pleased to unveil a new online exhibit featuring amateur newspapers from around the United States. “What, pray tell, is an amateur newspaper?” you say. Well Dennis R. Laurie, Reference Specialist of Newspapers and Periodicals at the American Antiquarian Society, defines them as such:

An amateur journal is a periodical created to afford pleasure to its readers as well as to its editor and its publisher. The rage to publish, rather than profit, is the motive that most often induces people to become amateur journalists; and, throughout the history of the genre, most but not all amateur journalists have been juveniles.

Our collection is small but respectable, showcasing the publishing aspirations of young amateurs from all corners of the U.S. as well as Prince Edward Island, Canada. The collection was amassed by a Biddeford boy named Walter Perkins, who at age 14 was so inspired by South Boston’s “Dew Drop” he decided to create his own newspaper, “The Snow-Flake”. Perkins, who went on to become a successful comedic actor on the vaudeville circuit, created a paper full of wit and jokes. Other papers are humorous as well, while others take a more serious tone and more closely try to mimic a traditional paper.

Woodcuts created for the Corn City's Compliments Christmas supplement, Toledo, Ohio, 1873.

Woodcuts created for the Corn City’s Compliments Christmas supplement, Toledo, Ohio, 1873.

Most of the papers are from 1873, but there are a few from later years, as well as a modern local “pocket” journal that was donated by creator who had heard of the Perkins collection. Another interesting note is the scarcity of illustrated papers. It must have been more difficult to produce an illustrated paper, though not impossible: the Corn City’s Compliments (Toledo, Ohio) produced an 1873 Christmas Supplement full of caricatures of other amateur paper editors (see illustration).



The exhibit, which will be up indefinitely, consists of a selection of papers from every coast of the United States and from across the vast interior as well. While there are contributions positively identified as written by girls, most if not all of the papers appear to be edited/produced by boys.

What I find personally fascinating about this collection is how it correlates to the the Zine movement of D.I.Y. self-publishing *as well as* the current explosion of self-publishing made possible via electronic media of all shapes and sizes. From the 1870’s to the 1970’s and today, young people have utilized the means available to communicate their thoughts and ideas to one another and the greater public.  I love the idea of these idealistic and creative young adults through the ages making their voices heard via newsprint, xerox, blogging software…the interconnectedness of this urge to communicate en masse, by generation upon generation. The idea of it fascinates me, and I hope it gets you thinking as well.

***For those interested in the technical specs, the library used Omeka’s totally fabulous platform to produce the exhibit.***    

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Personal Digital Archiving: RESOURCES!

Folks, we had a great turnout for our Pass It On: Personal Digital Archiving Day workshops last week! It was really exciting to see so many folks interested in learning more about how to preserve and provide access to their digital legacies.  As promised, here are links to the video which I *meant* to show at each session, as well as links to other resources for archiving your digital materials. (Much of the content of the Library of Congress pages are what was in the handouts distributed at the presentation; however there are also bonus materials, videos, and podcasts to be found as well!)

Why Digital Preservation is Important for You [VIDEO]

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS-Archiving Personal Photographs
NATIONAL ARCHIVES-Digitizing Photo Collections
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION-Preserving Your Digital Photographs [webinar]


LIBRARY OF CONGRESS-Personal Digital Records
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS-Archiving Websites

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