Women’s History Month in the History Room

March is Women’s History Month! We shared items and collections from the History Room that illuminate women’s history in our communities in each issue of the library’s email newsletter (sign up here). See each week’s story below!

Old Ladies’ Home

Group of twelve Old Ladies' Home residents seated on a porch

Rollins, F.J. Residents at the Old Ladies Home, Bath, Maine (2006.10.1.16). c. 1900-1907. Otis N. E. Card photograph collection. Sagadahoc History & Genealogy Room.

The Old Ladies’ Home collection (MC 009), includes information about how the charitable institution was founded in the 1870s, how it ran until the 1970s, and the many women who retired to the home at 800 High Street after careers as housekeepers, cooks, seamstresses, teachers, and librarians. The collection also includes the papers of Mabel Cushing Rouse, a seamstress who lived at the home from 1892 to 1905. Watch our History Room Live presentation about the collection here.
F.J. Rollins photographed 12 unidentified “old ladies” sometime between 1900 and 1907. Do any of these faces look familiar to you?

Woman’s Christian Temperance Union

Handwritten account of the first meeting of the Bath Woman's Christian Temperance Union

2020.003 Book of minutes from the Bath Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, ca. 1883-1896

“The Bath Women’s Christian Temperance Union was organized on the first Monday in March 1881 Mrs. Lillian M. N. Stevens officiating from the State Union. Place, Central Vestry, at 4 o’clock.”
So begins the Bath WCTU record book recently donated to the History Room by Maine Maritime Museum, which includes minutes of meetings from 1883 to 1896.
In addition to temperance, the WCTU’s political goals included labor rights, public health, and suffrage. Bath poet Alice May Douglas (1865-1943) was a WCTU peace activist. Other members, listed in the image shown here, were: Helen S. Delano, Mrs. Edwin Campbell, Susan N. Philbrook, Fannie A. Weeks, and Abbie Field. In 1883, membership dues increased from 25¢ to 30¢ per year.

Women at Work

List of music teachers in Bath in 1922

The Bath, Maine City Directory: A General Directory of the City and the Towns of Arrowsic, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Richmond, West Bath and Woolwich, Vol. II, 1922-’23. “Bath Business Directory, 1922”, (Beverly, Mass. : Crowley & Lunt, 1922), 474.

Our collection of city directories holds specific annual data about women in the workforce, like this list of Bath music teachers in 1922.
Women who worked as dressmakers, nurses, milliners, music teachers, and boarding house matrons are listed in the business directory section, while housekeepers, cooks, maids, cashiers, school teachers, and librarians are identified in the name directory. Contrast this local data with the national reports and studies featured in the Library of Congress research guide, Women in Business and the Workforce. Many Bath directories are available online though Ancestry Library.

Emma Eames and Matilda Elizabeth Frelinghuysen

Emma Eames and Matilda Elizabeth Frelinghuysen standing in front of a Packard car

Emma Eames and Matilda Elizabeth Frelinghuysen in Whitefield, NH (PC-57, 12). 1938. Matilda Elizabeth Frelinghuysen collection.

Our collection of Emma Eames material is one of the more significant collections that the History Room received in it’s early days. The collection includes photographs of the famous opera singer and programs from her many performances. Jerusha Neely, an intern from Simmons University, is currently researching the provenance of the materials in the collection. She learned that most of the collection came to us via Matilda Elizabeth Frelinghuysen (1887-1969), Eames’ longtime friend and the executor of her estate. The collection includes a photo of the two together in Whitefield, New Hampshire in 1938.
The existence of these materials in the History Room is a result of the close friendship between the two women and the Frelinghuysen family’s careful stewardship of the materials.

Opening Doors in Historic Bath

Historic building enthusiasts will be happy to learn that Sagadahoc Preservation Inc., our neighbors at Winter Street Center, will celebrate their 50th anniversary by offering virtual house tours in March.

Sagadahoc Preservation, Inc., kicks off the celebration of its 50th anniversary this year with a series of online guided tours of historic homes and landmarks in Bath, Maine. Hosted by SPI board member Irene Drago, Tour #1 (accessible March 19-21) focuses on four private residences located on Washington and Middle Streets. Viewers will be treated to architectural features, historical information and background stories about these beautiful homes. SPI is a longtime supporter of the Sagadahoc History & Genealogy Room.

The preservation organization was founded in 1971, first, to save the Winter Street Church from scheduled demolition and, second, to support the preservation of Bath’s distinctive architectural legacy increasingly threatened by loss.

For more information, see the event on the Sagadahoc Preservation Inc. website.


17th Annual Town History Series on Zoom and BCTV

Announcing the 17th Annual Town History Series

The Sagadahoc History and Genealogy Room announces the seventeenth annual Town History Series!

Speakers from Patten Free Library’s five member communities will present on aspects of their town’s history on five Saturday mornings in January and February.

On January 16, Nathan Lipfert will present Two Centuries of Working for Bath Customs. On January 23, Jack Carr will give the Maritime History of Arrowsic. On January 30, Jeanne McGowan of Georgetown will share the story of Captain Stin Davis….In His Own Words. West Bath’s Peter Stackpole will talk about his family’s One Hundred Years on Campbell Pond on February 6. On February 13, Rob Stevens will present Woolwich Men and the 1779 Penobscot Expedition.

The series will take place virtually on Zoom and air live on Bath Community Television at 10:30 AM.

Register here to receive a Zoom link for each Saturday morning event.

For more information, contact Jill Piekut Roy, Archivist & Special Collections Librarian in the Sagadahoc History & Genealogy Room at history@patten.lib.me.us or 207-443-5141 ext 18.

2021 Schedule

All presentations begin at 10:30 am on Saturday. Stay tuned for more information about special follow-up sessions.

Date Town Title Speaker
January 16 Bath Two Centuries of Working for Bath Customs Nathan Lipfert
January 23 Arrowsic Maritime History of Arrowsic Jack Carr
January 30 Georgetown Captain Stin Davis….In His Own Words Jeanne McGowan
February 6 West Bath One Hundred Years on Campbell Pond Peter Stackpole
February 13 Woolwich Woolwich Men and the 1779 Penobscot Expedition Rob Stevens

A Year of History Room Live

When Karen suggested doing a Zoom program back in March 2020, I had no idea what it would become. History Room Live has been such a joy to produce every week. We’re both going to miss seeing our patrons’ faces while we focus on bringing the 17th Annual Town History Series online.

Jill’s Reflections

We started in April with the idea that we could help patrons access local history and genealogy resources on the web while we were closed to the public. Karen, with her deep knowledge of genealogy databases, kicked off the series with a tour of Ancestry.com resources, then introduced us to the multitude of genealogy resources available on the web. Then, since the first week of the transition from my old job as cataloger to my new job as archivist was also National Postcard Week (May 3-9), I dug into our awesome postcard collections to share some highlights with you. We finished out the first month with Coffee Hour, a casual session which would soon become my favorite day of the month. (Watch recorded History Room Live presentations here.)

In the early days of the pandemic, it was nice to have something challenging to focus on. We brainstormed, studied, brought on guests, learned the ins and outs of PowerPoint, Zoom, and YouTube. At first, my number one goal was to know what next week’s topic would be by the time we started recording on Friday afternoon. Then, as we started getting the hang of things, I managed to slow down and recognize the faces in the audience. Some were faces of people I had already met in person, but many others had been strangers just a month or two before.

The best thing about making History Room Live this year has been meeting people from the community! It has been huge for me to be able to learn about the history of this place – during lockdown, no less! – from the experts who love it. Next best was learning from our guest presenters, Jack, Anna, Craig, Brenda, Tim, and Nathan—and from Karen, who has been a great collaborator.

Once the library reopened to the public in July, I had made some new friends. Some of them came in to do research, some became volunteers and correspondents, and some sent in materials to add to the collection. When we returned to curbside pickup in November, History Room Live was there to keep us connected.

I hope all of our History Room Live friends can join us on January 16 at 10:30 AM, when we kick off the Town History Series with Nathan Lipfert’s presentation Two Centuries of Working for Bath Customs.

Karen’s Reflections

Here’s what Karen has to say about History Room Live:

When Jill and I were planning and developing this program, some of my own personal goals for it were to provide a program for the community, connect with the community, and provide a way for you all to get to know your new archivist (and vice versa). All of those things happened, but there have been other results, too, that I hadn’t expected, though I probably should have. A few people are now volunteers and some of you have donated materials to the History Room. Best of all, we’ve had a lot of great conversations. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to get an audience to participate in programs, but we’ve never had to be concerned about that. In fact, I don’t think of you folks as an audience. I feel more like you’re all partners with us, sharing your own stories and expertise, asking great questions, and helping us better understand our communities and the people and places in them. You also don’t limit these conversations to this one hour; I know many of you reach out to Jill often, and one of you has even emailed me with resources, ideas, and general knowledge. I’ve enjoyed these weekly gatherings with all of you and I truly appreciate all your contributions to us, both personally and professionally. Thank you so much for helping us, and each other, survive this year and find some bit of joy.

Coming Up in 2021

When we resume History Room Live in the spring, I hope to welcome even more experts and local organizations who serve Sagadahoc County and Maine as a whole, to share current projects and research, collection highlights, special skills, or the history of their organization. Interested in presenting? Email Jill at history@patten.lib.me.us or call 207-443-5141 x18.

2021 Bath Historical Society Calendar

Click here to order the 2021 Bath Historical Society calendar.

The Bath Historical Society issues a calendar every year to spread the word about Bath history. This year’s calendar honors Robin Haynes and Peter Goodwin after their retirement from Patten Free Library. Each month features one of Peter and Robin’s picks from the Sagadahoc History & Genealogy Room collections, representing their favorite events, places, and people of Bath, Maine.

The calendar will be available for sale at the Library Bookstore, Mockingbird Bookstore, Wilson’s Drug Store, Main Street Design, Lisa Marie’s Made in Maine & the Bath Sweet Shoppe. Unfortunately, the calendar will not be available for purchase at Patten Free Library during curbside-only service.

The Sagadahoc History & Genealogy Room at Patten Free Library thanks Bath Historical Society for their partial support, and for the work they do to preserve and share Bath’s unique history.

Click here to order the 2021 Bath Historical Society calendar.

Indigenous History in Sagadahoc County

November is Native American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month. We’re honoring Maine’s indigenous peoples by learning more about the Native Americans who have lived in Sagadahoc County.

We’ll start by identifying books in our collection that focus on indigenous history at a local level. Next, we’ll share tips for finding other books about indigenous history on a regional and national level. Finally, we’ll share links to a few online resources.

Sagadahoc County Indigenous History Books

According to the Native Land Map, the Sagadahoc County area is part of Arosaguntacook and Nanrantsouak land. Both peoples, also known as Androscoggin and Norridgewock, are part of the Wabanaki Confederacy.
Both the History Room collection and the Nonfiction collection at Patten Free Library include books about indigenous people in Sagadahoc County. These five publications, written between 1853 and 1983, focus on political relationships with indigenous people from a white colonial perspective, making frequent use of the now antiquated term “Indians.”

Baker, Emerson W. “The Clarke & Lake Site, 1654-1676: A Place of Trading as Well as Planting.” Thesis (M.A.) in History. University of Maine, 1983.

Cranmer, Leon E. Cushnoc: The History and Archaeology of Plymouth Colony Traders on the Kennebec. Augusta, Me.: Maine Archaeological Society: Fort Western Museum: Maine Historic Preservation Commission, c1990.

Congdon, Isabelle P. Indian Tribes of Maine : With Particular Reference to Indian Activities in the Regions around the Present Locations of Bath and Brunswick. Brunswick, Me. : Brunswick Publishing Co., 1961.

Sewall, Rufus King. Ancient Dominions of Maine: Embracing the Earliest Facts, the Recent Discoveries, of the Remains of Aboriginal Towns, the Voyages, Settlements, Battle Scenes, and Incidents of Indian Warfare, and Other Incidents of History, Together With the Religious Developments of Society Within the Ancient Sagadahoc, Sheepscot, and Pemaquid Precincts and Dependencies. Bath : Elisha Clark & Co. ; Boston : Crosby & Nichols, 1859.

Shute, Samuel. “Georgetown on Arrowsic Island, Aug. 9th 1717. Annoque regni regis Georg II magnae Britanniae &c. quarto. A confession of hs excellency the governour, with the sachems and cheif men of the eastern Indians.” In Collections of the Maine Historical Society. Vol. 3 (1853), p.361-375.

Maine Indigenous History Books

There is no shortage of books on Maine’s indigenous people. Colonizers have been writing about the topic since they first came to the Americas. The following books were written by people with indigenous heritage:

American Friends Service Committee Wabanaki Program. The Wabanakis of Maine & the Maritimes: A Resource Book by and About About Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Micmac, and Abenaki Indians: With Extensive Resources for All Educational Levels Including Sample Lesson Plans. Philadelphia, PA : Wabanaki Program of the American Friends Service Committee, 2002, c1989.

Brooks, Lisa Tanya. Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War. New Haven : Yale University Press, 2018.

O’Brien, Jean M. Firsting and lasting : writing Indians out of existence in New England. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

Subject Headings

For other books about indigenous people in Maine, you can search the Minerva Catalog using subject headings. Keep in mind that subject headings often use antiquated and biased language, but we keep them around because they are amazingly useful (if you’re interested in learning more about that, we recommend an article titled The bias hiding in your library at online news magazine The Conversation.)
The following subject headings will lead you to books on each topic:

               Indians of North America

               Indians of North America–Maine

               Eastern Indians, Wars with, 1722-1726

               Indian land transfers

               Names, Indian–Maine

               New England–Race relations

               Abenaki Indians

               Arosaguntacook Indians

               Maelcite Indians

               Norridgewock Indians

               Passamaquoddy Indians

               Penobscot Indians

               Red Paint culture

Online Resources

The following websites from across Maine are portals to learning more about the state’s indigenous heritage.

Abbe MuseumPreservation of Wabanaki artifacts, and education on Wabanaki culture

Ancestral Voices “This first presentation in the Ancestral Voices project is the result of a collaborative venture among the AFC, the Passamaquoddy Tribe of Maine, and the creators of TK Labels and Mukurtu CMS. Passamaquoddy elders have provided cultural narratives and added traditional knowledge about Passamaquoddy recordings, which were spoken in a French-influenced dialect of the Passamaquoddy language in 1890.”

Indigenous Law Web Archive “(The Law Library) collects and preserves primary law sources of indigenous nations, which are sovereign governments by treaty with the United States.” 

Maine Indians: A Web Resource List for Teachers from University of Maine Hudson Museum
Maine Native Studies Resources lists many resources with a brief description of each, including some on this list. 

Maine Memory Network Holding up the Sky exhibit

Penobscot Nation Information and sources for tribal members, also includes some information on Cultural and Historic Preservation.

Passamaquoddy People Knowledge Portal “This website is a glimpse of our rich cultural traditions and history. It will allow future generations of Passamaquoddy to learn about OUR STORY in OUR WORDS.” A project involving wax cylinder recordings expanded into this website which is used as a way to share the language and culture as the Passamaquoddy choose to share them.

Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Language Portal “The Portal is designed as a resource for language learning and research.” 

Resources for Truth, Healing and Change in Wabanaki Territory  from Maine-Wabanaki Reach

Wabanaki Collections “The Wabanaki Collection connects postsecondary educators, grade school teachers, and the general public with a variety of resources that support enhanced relationships between all the peoples of Eastern Canada and Northeastern United States.”

Help Us Learn More About Local Indigenous History

We are always looking for more sources about local indigenous history. Are there titles we missed? Do you have knowledge or ideas to contribute? Contact Jill at history@patten.lib.me.us.
Thank you to Karen Richard for the online resource list.

Confectionery Challenge

If you aren’t going door to door for candy this Halloween, you can still Trick-or-Treat down the streets of Bath as they were 100 years ago with the Confectionery Challenge! A confectionery is also known as a candy store. Yum!

Here are the rules:

  1. Browse the 1919 Bath Sanborn Map online.*
  2. Look for confectioneries – abbreviated Conf’y – in the downtown buildings.
  3. Give yourself a piece of candy for every confectionery you find!
  4. Hint: There were at least four in 1919.

*Read on to learn how to find and use the 1919 Bath Sanborn Maps.

Want more candy? Repeat with the 1890, 1891, 1896, 1903, 1909, and 1950 maps!

How to Use the Bath Sanborn Maps

What are Sanborn Maps?

Sanborn Maps are a candy-colored key to the way our towns looked 100 years ago. Before they became a treat for historians, they were used by insurance agents to assess fire risk for the property they insured. They were published irregularly. For Bath, maps exist between 1890 and 1919. Plus, the Library of Congress has a 1919 copy that was updated through 1950 as the city changed.

The maps’ color code indicates what each building was made out of. Pink is cinnamon and yellow is vanilla. Wait… I mean pink is brick and yellow is wood! (Bonus points for figuring out what blue and green stand for.)

The Library of Congress has digitized Sanborn Maps for hundreds of cities and towns across the country.

The maps were originally published in books. The first page shows which part of town you’ll find on each page. There is also an index by street.

Ready to go?

Have fun wandering around the city! Remember, there are at least four confectioneries in 1919. Let us know if you find more at history@patten.lib.me.us and enjoy your confections!

We Love the Census

Have you been counted?

Among everything else, 2020 is a U.S. federal Census year. Have you completed the Census yet? It’s easy, safe, and important to be counted!

Learn more about how you can complete the 2020 census from the U.S. Census Bureau.

What is the Census?

A census gathers information about a population. The United States Census, which has occurred every ten years since 1790, gathers information for the express purpose of calculating how a state is represented in the House of Representatives, and the proportion of federal tax income distributed to each state. At a local level, census data is used to plan for infrastructure and services like roads, hospitals, public assistance, schools, and libraries.

Federal law requires that all people living in the United States be counted. Fortunately, most people have been able to safely submit their information online this year. Those folks who haven’t yet completed the Census may have received a personal visit from a local enumerator, and they can expect repeated visits until their information is recorded.

When I spoke to a Bath enumerator, she explained how she no longer has access to the information her neighbors have provided after she has filled out and submitted the electronic census form through a secure iPhone. She commented that this year’s census questions are less invasive than some other years. For example, citizenship and immigration status are not part of the 2020 census.

The American Community Survey, also administered by the Census Bureau, supplements census data by asking more in-depth questions, chiefly about demographics, employment, and housing, and questions about place of birth and citizenship are included in the American Community Survey. The American Community survey has been distributed to 3.5 million randomly-selected addresses annually since 2010.

Why are we so excited about the Census?

Aside from the immediate benefits of an accurate population count, census data is enormously helpful to students, researchers, and genealogists. It can be found in two of our favorite online databases: Ancestry Library Edition and Data.Census.gov (formerly American Fact Finder).

Teach Your Kids about the Census

The Census Bureau has put together activities and lesson plans designed to teach kids about the Census through a variety of approaches. Find out more here.

Get the Facts about the Census

In response to misinformation about the purpose and use of Census data, the American Library Association has provided the following facts about this year’s census:

  • The 2020 Census does not ask citizenship or immigration status.
  • Census responses are confidential and secure. They are protected by federal law and can only be seen by the Census Bureau to produce anonymous statistics. They cannot be shared with police, immigration agencies, or anyone else.
  • The Constitution requires the census to count everyone living in the United States. There is no exception for citizenship or immigration status.
  • Federal law requires all adults to respond to the census (the census asks for one response per household). There is no exception for citizenship or immigration status.
  • It is crucial to know how many people are living in a community when planning for hospitals, roads, and other crucial services. A complete count benefits every local community.

What We’re Reading

Thirteen patrons joined us for History Room Live yesterday. It was a casual “Coffee Hour” session where we shared and discussed books we’ve been reading.

Our books weren’t limited to local history and genealogy topics, but certain themes emerged, including United States history, Black history, activisim, and maritime life.

Here are 21 books that came up in the course of discussion:

Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood by Colin Woodard, 2020

The Lobster Coast: Rebels, Rusticators, and the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier by Colin Woodard, 2004

The Campaigns of the First Maine and First District of Columbia Cavalry by Samuel Hill Merrill, 1866

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, 2016

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, 2009

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, 1990

The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People by Dan Buettner, 2015

The Alienist by Caleb Carr, 1994

Liberty’s Exiles by Maya Jasonoff, 2011

The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty

Jane Addams: Spirit in Action by Louise W. Knight, 2010

Related: Frances Perkins: The Life and Legacy of FDR’s Secretary of Labor & The Relevance of Her Work Today, Maine Calling, July 15, 2020.

The Sea Captain’s Wife: A True Story of Love, Race, and War in the Nineteenth Century by Martha Elizabeth Hodes, 2006

Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail by W. Jeffrey Bolster, 1997

The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail by W. Jeffrey Bolster, 2012

The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir by Samantha Power, 2019

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, 2018

The Road to Down Street: The Story of North Bath by Nancy Dearborn Lovetere, 2011

The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History by John R. Gillis, 2012

The Library Book by Susan Orlean, 2018

Black Bangor: African Americans in a Maine Community, 1880-1950 by Maureen Elgersman Lee, 2005

Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England by Jean M. O’Brien, 2010

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist, 2014

Shipmates: A Tale of the Seafaring Women of New England by Isabel Hopestill Carter, 1934

The Know-Nothing Riot of July 6, 1854

Frequent visitors to our Reading Room may have recognized the painting that was featured on Maine Public’s On This Day in Maine History series this Monday. Eagle-eyed patrons would have spotted some differences, as Maine Public’s image is a different version of the one that hangs on the East wall of the Reading Room. The painting of the South Church in flames is from one of at least six different sets created by artist John Hilling (1826-1894).

Hilling’s pair of oil-on-canvas paintings documents one of the most violent episodes in Bath history: the Know-Nothing Riot of July 6, 1854. The “naïve” or folk–art works illustrate different stages in the riots that led to the destruction of the South Meeting House, which had been rented to the local Catholic congregation. The larger painting captures the vandalism in full force as men ravaged the building after a political rally on the corner of Front and Centre Streets. The fire was just beginning and visible in a single window, while rioters threw shutters out windows and shouted from the tower, oblivious of the danger. The smaller painting shows the fire well advanced, consuming the building, while rioters and onlookers watched.

John Hilling, an English-born painter, was among the onlookers. As early as 1839, Hilling worked in Bath as a house, sign and “fancy painter.” His home at the time, with wife Nancy Jane Hayes and their children, was on Shepard Street, where the view of the fire would have been compelling—compelling enough to move Hilling up the hill to where the old meeting house stood burning. In May of 1855, the Weekly Mirror noted that “Mr. John Hilling of this city, has painted two representations of the old South, one as it was previous to the fire, and the other as it was at the time of the fire. They are perfect representations of the house and its destruction.

These works are tremendously important as period accounts of the event. Hilling was there as an eyewitness (although that doesn’t mean that artistic license did not play its part). Other versions of the paintings can be found in important folk art collections. The National Gallery of Art published a reproduction of their painting in American Naïve Paintings, which explains that “Hilling appears to have painted at least six almost identical pairs of paintings, each consisting of one representation of the church under mob assault and the other with the building ablaze. The multiple versions suggest a lively market for this theme.”

The Know-Nothing Party sought to stifle Catholics, immigrants, and other American minority groups by infusing American politics with nativist and Protestant values. The Party had risen to national prominence by 1854. Earlier that year, the Know Nothings had swept elections across Massachusetts. Nationally, July 6, 1854 is known as the day the Republican Party was founded, a significant step toward the abolition of slavery. As the Known Nothing Party disintegrated over the question of slavery, its abolitionist members would join the newly formed Republican Party to elect Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

Adapted from: Haynes, Robin A.S. 2012 Art Inventory. Bath, Me. : Patten Free Library, 2012.

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