New additions to Internet Archive!

We’ve added two interesting items to the Internet Archive: our first edition of the pamphlet “Cochranism Delineated”, written by Ephraim Stinchfield in 1819, about the free love movement which swept the area during that time…
https://archive.org/stream/cochranism-delineated1819?ui=embed#mode/2up

~AND~
“Diary of a Voyage from New Orleans to St. Petersburg, Russia”, which is the transcription of the diary kept by a sea captain’s wife when she sailed with her husband in 1838…
https://archive.org/stream/jordan-diary001?ui=embed#mode/2up

You can access and download these interesting items from our Miscellaneous Collection/Small Manuscripts (MS999) in a variety of formats via Internet Archive. Enjoy!

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The Langlais Art Trail = art in your backyard

Who? BERNARD LANGLAIS (1921-1977) was an award-winning Maine artist and sculptor.

What? THE LANGLAIS ART TRAIL is, in essence, an art installation on a state-wide scale. A network of over 50 institutions in over 40 Maine communities allow the public to access and enjoy thousands of works created by this prolific and important Maine artist. Made possible by the Colby College Museum of Art and the Kohler Foundation, Inc.

When? FOREVER! The Langlais Art Trail is a permanent installation, and can be accessed whenever the host locations are open to the public. (Note: Some locations are free, some charge admission–best to check before you go.)

Where? ALL OVER MAINE. But your local Langlais Art Trail participant is Biddeford’s McArthur Library. The wild and whimsical pieces are on permanent display in our Children’s Room, to be enjoyed by art lovers of all ages!

Why? Because access to art makes us all richer people, and this trail gives many opportunities to access art for free. And not just any art, but works by an important and well-regarded artist, who did his own thing in his own way. Art historian Daniel Kany sums it thusly: “…it’s undeniable that the tremendously talented Langlais changed the Maine art landscape and that his late sculptures successfully achieve a raw and intentionally primitive power.”

To Learn More:

Boston Globe: Building an art trail through Maine

Portland Press Herald: The whole Bernard Langlais at the Colby Museum of Art

 

Bernard Langlais at the Colby College Museum of Art
Bernard Langlais at the Colby College Museum of Art

“Bernard Langlais at the Colby College Museum of Art”…  borrow from your local library, or purchase at your favorite local bookseller.

A little inspiration for the newest townies…

Biddeford is in the middle of something big…we all know it, it’s been years in the making, and it’s pretty cool. There’s so much hubub, building, renovation, and yes demolition! going on nowadays…the city is changing before our eyes. But you know, it’s not the first time this has happened. Biddeford has always been a dynamic place, from fishing village to bustling lumber, milling and trading hub to textile manufacturing mecca. No matter what or whom has been at the heart of Biddeford, the face of the town is ever growing and changing. It’s one of the most interesting parts of my job, to piece together places in their many iterations, and then finding some way to share that with the community.

I’ve been cataloging a large number of old images of streets, homes and buildings lately, and thinking about all the renovating and upgrading and new construction going on downtown and elsewhere. It came to me that maybe you all would like to see some of the beautiful old dwellings which have graced our streets in the past. Maybe these images will inspire some of you newcomers in your renovations and rebuilding work, I hope they do! And if you have any questions or want to see more, you can feel free to contact us at the library or take some time to poke around the Local History Catalog (which is updated on a regular basis with new materials). Enjoy!!!

PS. Please excuse any mistakes made in my descriptions–my enthusiasm far outweighs my architectural expertise. Feel free to share what you know about this stuff!

Image 2439. Home on Center Street, Biddeford.
Image 2439. Home on Center Street, Biddeford.
Postcard Carr 619. Homes along Elm Street near South Street (200 block).
Postcard Carr 619. Homes along Elm Street near South Street (200 block). (Recognize these homes?? The mansard roofed building is now white, and the little New Englander has a big porch attached to the face of it now. Look at those trees!)
carr0343
Postcard Carr 343. This is after the Harmon’s Corner fire, but see those homes? That’s the Methot Insurance building on the corner of Main and Elm, and the cute little cape next door is where the rental store is now.
Image 3008.  A home in Biddeford, circa 1877. The location is unknown, but this is a great example of a nice, simple home. Check out the pretty lamp on the corner!
Image 3008. A home in Biddeford, circa 1877. The location is unknown, but this is a great example of a nice, simple home. Check out the pretty lamp on the corner!
Apartment building, Elm Street and Emery Court (St. Joseph's Street), circa 1910.
Postcard bid.gen.039. I love this building! It was next door to St. Joseph’s Church, now it’s the parking lot. Beautiful windows and details, and check out those great buildings around it!
Image 0772. Apartment buildings on Main Street @ Elm Street (across from St. John's Building).
Image 772. Apartment buildings on Main Street , near St. John’s Building. Check out those great bay windows!

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!

Ancestry has Biddeford-Saco City Directories, you know.

Did you know this? I didn’t, until I came across it while doing a search a week or so ago. So I figured I ought to check it out and see just what they have to offer…and folks, it’s pretty good.

At first I thought perhaps it was just transcriptions of the books, until I dug around a bit. Not that transcriptions aren’t great, but we all know that people (and optical character recognition software) can’t help but make mistakes, and that can mess with your search results. So it’s nice to be able to look at the page yourself, just in case. I managed to locate the place where you can pull up directories by year, and browse through the entire issue. There are a couple ways to get there.

THE LONG WAY:

  • Go to Ancestry.com HOME PAGE
  • Go to CARD CATALOG
  • Go to collection list on left, look for SCHOOLS, DIRECTORIES & CHURCH HISTORIES
  • Go to CITY & AREA DIRECTORIES
  • Look for “U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989” in the list of titles in the middle of the screen.  Click on it to open.

THE SHORT WAY:

  • Go to Ancestry.com HOME PAGE
  • Click on SEARCH and select CARD CATALOG
  • Type in “U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989” to pull it up, then click on it to open.

Once you get there, you can either search for someone specific, or browse whole editions. If browsing, select which year you want in the search box on the right hand side. [NOTE: You’ll first need to tell it you’re looking in MAINE, then either BIDDEFORD or SACO. *SACO will pull up the 1849 Directory (the first one); all the rest are listed under BIDDEFORD.*] When you’ve clicked on the year you want in the drop-down, you will then be able to browse page by page, including advertisements and other interesting information found in these wonderful little research gems.

Finally, don’t forget: if you don’t have your own subscription to Ancestry, you can come into the library and use it for FREE! You can access it on our public computers, or bring in your laptop and search via our Wifi. As long as you are using the library’s IP address (which, if you’re using our Wifi, you will be) you’ll be able to get onto Ancestry via MARVEL. **Library staff will by happy to help you navigate there.**

I’m putting a list of the Directories available on Ancestry up in the Catablog in the “Electronic Texts” section, just for reference. Happy Researching!

Biddeford High-Waterhouse Field Trivia!

Here is a fun tidbit I came across this afternoon while transcribing our History Index Cards (which will be in spreadsheet/database form in the near future for EVERYONE’S convenience!)

“Alfred L. Waterhouse will be honored Friday night [SEPTEMBER 24, 1954] , as Biddeford High’s home field, long known as “Alumni Field”, becomes officially “Alfred L. Waterhouse Field.”  (Biddeford Daily Journal, September 21, 1954: p.1 c.1).  –Another story ran in the paper that Satuday (September 25, 1954: p.1 c.1) all about the re-dedication of the playing field.

So now you know–the day that ALUMNI FIELD officially became WATERHOUSE FIELD was Friday, September 24, 1954.

Ye olde almanacks

Sometimes it is easy to forget that agriculture was once a necessity of life for most of the people who lived in the area. If you didn’t grow it, you didn’t eat.  So besides a hoe and some land and a lot of hard work, what is one of the farmers most useful tools? The almanac!

We have a neat collection of almanacs which have finally made it upstairs thanks to the new shelving.  Our earliest almanac is from 1766 and was calculated for the meridian of Boston. It contains “Ephemeris; Aspects;  Spring tides; Judgments of the Weather; Feasts and Fasts of the Church; Courts in Massachusetts bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode-Island; Sun and moon’s rising and setting; Moons place; Time of High water;  Public roads; with the best Stages or Houses to put up at: Eelipses; with a Representation of the solar eclipse on the 5th August, &c. &c. &c. by Nathaniel Ames.” It is a neat little pamphlet, eight pages total and all the available space is used. Each month is chock full of information, and includes a small poem at the top of the page. There are little notes written in the margins and a flowing, elegant script.

I was curious to see how these developed over time, so I picked out the 1813 almanac to compare the contents–especially knowing the British conflict was a current event. Curiously enough the 1813 book is the Clergyman’s Almanack. It contains much of the astronomical and weather information, as well as a wealth of religious information, tables for stages, postage, currency conversion, missionary and bible societies and finally listings of college vacations.

What fascinating little snapshots of the day to day in New England! For a full listing of the collection check out the Catablog.
Front cover of a New England Farmer's Almanac from 1816

The notes around the margin of this almanac indicate that the owner planted barley, flaxseed and peas in May.
Interior pages and notes for a New England Farmer's Almanac in 1816