New Stuff

Franco-American history series revisted

Class portrait showing the 6th grade class of St. Joseph's School, Biddeford for 1943. 27 girls and 2 nuns in habits.
Image 3154. Sixth grade class of St. Joseph’s School, Biddeford, 1943 (27 girls and 2 nuns, none are identified)

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.


Articles in the series

“French-Canadians First Came To Biddeford In The 1830’s, ” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Aug. 11, 1972.

“Israel Shevenell Was Biddeford’s First French Voter,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Aug. 18, 1972.

“Controversy Marked The Early History Of St. Joseph’s Parish,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Aug. 25, 1972.

“Pastors Were Tenacious In Building Up St. Joseph’s Parish,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Sep. 1, 1972.

“St. Andre’s Parish Reveres Monseigneur Decary’s Memory,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Sep. 8, 1972.

“Parochial Schools Were Established To Preserve French Culture,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Sep. 15, 1972.

“Parish Schools Add Teeth to Discipline,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Sep. 22, 1972.

“Early Parochial Students Had To Forget Their Age,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Sep. 29, 1972.

“St. Louis High School Felt Financial Pinch,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Oct. 6, 1972.

“Parochial Schools Are On The Wane,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Oct. 16, 1972.

“High School Students Had To Go To Canada,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Oct. 30, 1972.

“Alumni Did Much For St. Louis High School,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Nov. 18, 1972.

“French-Canadian Newspapers: Press Preserver Of Traditions,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Jul. 16, 1973.

“French-Canadian Newspapers: Protestants Behind Local Paper,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Jul. 17, 1973.

“Early Publications Short-Lived,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Jul. 18, 1973.

“French-Canadian Newspapers: Mr. Zero Famous Native Son ,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Jul. 19, 1973.

“French-Canadian Newspapers: ‘La Justice’ Spanned Half Century,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Jul. 20, 1973.

“French-Canadian Newspapers: Editor Bonneau Multi-Talented,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Jul. 21, 1973.

“In La Justice: Anti-Yankee Views Explored,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Aug. 17, 1973.

“La Justice Dealt With Behavior,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Aug. 18, 1973.

“La Justice Tells: Discipline Is Key To Child Rearing,” Biddeford-Saco Journal (Biddeford, ME), Aug. 20, 1973.

Events, New Stuff

Glimpsing Granite in Biddeford

Biddeford had a thriving granite industry through the early 20th century (the many quarries that remain are evidence of this – they don’t call it Granite Street for nothing!)

Celebrate and learn about this heritage with John Anderson of Rockland, in a program about the fascinating life of his grandfather, Capt. Anders Anderson, an immigrant and schooner captain who hauled granite for 30+ years in Maine. You won’t want to miss this glimpse into Maine’s historic granite industry!

Events, New Stuff

President Monroe was here!

If you’ve been in the library lately, you may have noticed the cool new “James Monroe was here” sticker on the front door. So what’s it all about?

Two hundred years ago this month, James Monroe, fifth President of the United States, embarked upon an epic tour of the northern states. From May 31 to November 29 of 1817, the President visited 14 states and districts (including the district of Maine, which was not yet separated from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts).

The bicentennial of this journey is being commemorated by James Monroe’s Highland, the home of the President and his family from 1799-1826 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The museum and historic estate is a part of the College of William and Mary, which is also Monroe’s alma mater.

Highland’s historians tell us that Monroe’s tour was undertaken for two reasons:

Inspection of Military Defenses –
Having served as President Madison’s Secretary of State during the War of 1812 – and simultaneously for several months as Secretary of War – Monroe was keenly aware of the vulnerability of the country’s coastal fortifications. By reviving George Washington’s precedent of national tours, Monroe showed his hands-on management style, as well as cultured public support for strengthening military defenses.

National Unity –
Monroe’s decision to first inspect military defenses in the northern states was intentional. New England was largely Federalist, while Monroe’s political party was Democratic-Republican. The recent Hartford Convention (December 1814-January 1815) had made it plain that Federalists in the region were unhappy with the War of 1812 and even considered secession for New England. Monroe was also sensitive to the fact the northern states had not initially embraced another member of the Virginia Dynasty in the election of 1816.

~James Monroe’s Highland, 1817 Tour of the Northern States  – “Interpretation Points: Significance of James Monroe’s 1817 Tour of the Northern States”

Biddeford was an important stop for Monroe, as it was the home of the Honorable George Thacher, then a Judge in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

Biddeford’s historic Thacher Hotel, which opened in 1847 as Biddeford House, was renamed in 1898 to honor the important Revolutionary-era citizen.

The library has a great brief exhibit on Judge Thacher, along with images, up in our Movers and Shakers of Biddeford area on the Biddeford History and Heritage Project on Maine Historical Society’s Maine Memory Network. You can also access a detailed record of his public service in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005, which was produced by the U.S. Congress.

Born in Massachusetts proper, educated at Harvard College, George Thacher was only the second lawyer to come to Biddeford to practice – after James Sullivan (later governor of Massachusetts). Judge Thacher was well known in the highest political circles, having represented the area in both the Continental Congress as well as the first U.S. Congress in 1789, a post he held until 1801. President Monroe’s northern-most stop on the trip was Portland, Maine, but he stopped in Biddeford on the way up and again on the way back, one of only 2 towns in Maine with multiple planned visits in his itinerary.

So why should we care, other than the interest factor of a sitting U.S. President intentionally coming to town? President Monroe is incredibly important to this area because it was his signing of the Missouri Compromise that led to Maine finally becoming independent of Massachusetts in 1820 – the bicentennial of which we will celebrate in just a couple of years.

Note: Several other Maine organizations are also participating in this very cool commemoration, including: Fort McClary, our friends and neighbors at the Saco Museum, the Scarborough Historical Society, and the Maine Historical Society…be sure to stay tuned for interesting programming from our colleagues along the Post Road!!

Neat finds and fun stories, New Stuff, Resources

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!

History Mysteries, New Stuff

Sunshine work?

newspaper articleHere is an interesting mystery! I came across this article in the August 11, 1924 issue of the Biddeford Daily Journal. Naturally the “M’Arthur” caught my eye, and I also knew the the Universalist Church was the McArthur family’s church…so what is this article about? I don’t know! So let’s put this out to the community, and see if they can answer the questions:

What was the “McArthur Class” at the Universalist church?

What was meant by the term “sunshine work”?

Go!

Events, New Stuff, Updates

October is (sorta) Family History Month!

Picture2Hey so October is unofficially the official month where we celebrate Family History in the U.S.A.! (Note of explanation: OK, so FHM is an official thing in Australia, and some states and municipalities in the U.S. have designated it as a permanent thing; the U.S. Senate declared October “Family History Month” in 2001 then again in 2005– but for those years only. That’s official enough for us, so we’ll just go with it.)

The important thing is this: MCARTHUR LIBRARY LOVES FAMILY HISTORY!

And we want you to know there are TONS of resources, both online and here in the library, for those interested in researching, preserving and sharing their own family history. 

So, in honor of Family History Month, we’ve got all kinds of things happening.

  • On the blog/social media sites: we will feature two upcoming posts with resources: “Caring For Your Family Treasures” and then “Sharing + Preserving Your Family Stories”.
  • In the library: we have several great programs that connect with the theme of Family History (check out the calendar of events), and there will also be a display upstairs of handouts and books available on Family History, Doing Genealogy, Caring For Family Treasures and Sharing + Preserving Your Family Stories.

 

New Stuff

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).

View the AMATEUR NEWSPAPER EXHIBIT at <walterperkins.omeka.net>

View the PERKINS COLLECTION FINDING AID at <mcatablog.wordpress.com/finding-aids/>

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.***