The wonderful new-ish journal Résonance, a publication made possible by the Franco American Programs of the University of Maine, has published it’s second volume. It is freely available online thanks to the University, and is full of prose, poetry, reviews and more.
When the SMHC Auxiliary disbanded in 2019, their records came to the library so that they may be preserved for the future and remain accessible to the community. The collection is now fully processed and accessible to the public for study and research.
We are pleased to be able to provide a home to this important collection, and to preserve the story of the remarkable people who served the health and wellness needs of the Biddeford community for over 100 years.
In Spring 2019 I learned about Story Maps, and so this summer I decided to make an interactive map showing all of Biddeford’s National Register of Historic Places sites. Mobile and desktop friendly, it will bring you to all the National Register locations in our fair city. All mistakes and omissions are mine, but as of January 2020 it should be up-to-date. Enjoy!!
In 1972-1973 the Journal published a series of articles by the excellent Franco-American historian, Michael Guignard. This was prior to the publication of his unequaled work, “La Foi – La Langue – La Culture: The Franco-Americans of Biddeford, Maine”. I came across this series while searching for articles on Israel Shevenell this week, and I wanted to bring them to light so they can be read and enjoyed by all again.
As mentioned in the May 16th Biddeford-Saco Courier, we are thrilled to a virtual unveilling of the two maps we recently had conserved and digitized by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in North Andover, Mass. (The maps are super huge, and we are still trying to figure out how to display them in real life…stay tuned for that!)
Both maps are a wonderful records of Biddeford’s Main Street Historic District, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2009. (Oh and also portions of that little area called the Mills Historic District? Also on National Register? You probably haven’t heard about it though…) 😛
You can find full records of each map in the library’s catalog – but we’ve got digital copies right here for you to download and enjoy absolutely free, thanks to the support of the AWESOME Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation. ENJOY!
(Psst…the maps are huge, so be prepared if you aren’t downloading from a fast network…)
The community room was packed to the gills Thursday night, with upwards of 150 people attending author and journalist Mark Alan Leslie’s informative talk on the Underground Railroad in Biddeford and Maine in general.
McArthur was really happy to be able to give Mr. Leslie some documentation on the activity in Biddeford and Saco during these years, though so much more work needs to be done to document this topic and African-American history in southern Maine.
For what its worth, here are answers to a couple local questions that cropped up during his talk :
Q. When did the (pro-slavery) Maine Democrat newspaper break up?
A. Prior to 1880, as far as I can tell, perhaps closer to 1870? Just as Mr. Leslie conjectured.
Q. Was Biddeford’s Negro Island named for Underground Railroad activities?
A. NO. We have documents that show Negro Island was called that as early as 1795. We still don’t know why or how it got the name, though.
Q. Were there any safe houses in Biddeford-Saco?
A. We don’t know! No family histories, oral histories or documentation of UR activities have been passed to the library! If you know of any stories of this, please let us know!!
The over-flowing crowd was obviously hungry to learn more about this important topic in U.S. history…so here are some links for those who were unable to attend the talk, or who wish to educate themselves further about the shameful (and as we learned, still existent!) institution of slavery in the United States.
The Portland Maine Freedom Trail “Dedicated to the countless thousands of men and women who fled the bonds of slavery but were recaptured or died at the hands of their pursuers before they reached the safe embrace of the Underground Railroad. They are not forgotten.”
Mark Alan Leslie Missed the talk? Look to find the Maine author and journalist in one of his other Maine speaking engagements in 2019.
Our building was designed by John Stevens (1824-1881), an incredibly popular church archicect of the mid-19th century from Boston, Massachusetts. Often there is some confusion though, as people probably look at his name and assume we mean John Calvin Stevens, the mega-famous (so most famous?) Maine architect.
But no, although John Calvin Stevens (1855-1940) takes the credit for Biddeford’s beautiful City Building, it was that other John Stevens (and you could rightly say the first John Stevens) who designed the beautiful 1863 building that would become home to Biddeford’s public library in 1902 – the McArthur Public Library that we all know and love.
It is said that Stevens was so popular that he designed over 100 churches in New England, and it could be true…though I’ll let someone else do the tally on that. (Road trip!)
You’ll notice, many of his buildings look eerily similar…so in your travels, be on the lookout for other Stevens buildings – you won’t be able to miss them!