MCHP Pioneers: Where are they Now?

We’re long overdue for a check-in with the “pioneer” MCHP teams — those communities in the 2008-2009 program year that paved the way for all current and future MCHP teams. Recently, I contacted these teams to see what, MCHP-wise, they’ve done since their project year wrapped up in June, 2009.

Patten Free Library History Room Manager Peter Goodwin works with Bath Middle School students last year

Patten Free Library’s MCHP partnership with the Bath Middle School led to a summer internship for then-7th grader Kyle Hietala in the library’s Sagadahoc History and Genealogy Room. Some of this year’s teams are considering ways to formalize summer opportunities for students at the historical society based on the success of Bath’s experience.

The logo on Farmington's MCHP welcome page

In Farmington, Historical Society member Nancy Porter and University of Maine Farmington Visiting Professor of Education Theresa Overall have continued to work together on two fronts–getting more FHS items digitized and, as Theresa says, “teaching the next generation to carry on the good work.” They are planning a “Changing Faces of UMF” project for students that will eventually be both a physical and digital exhibit, as well as a walking tour and scavenger hunt.

To what extent that project gets off the ground is dependent on a grant Theresa and Nancy have applied for to cover archival supplies and a staff stipend. But Nancy says that a lot of other work is made possible thanks to the long-term support provided by the original MCHP stipend. “While we’ll need some things for these next projects, we DON’T need a computer, scanner, or camera. It was great to put a zero request in for that.”

The Historical Society used its MCHP equipment to put together a new physical exhibit on the fire of 1886 that will be online sometime down the road. And Nancy says she regularly uses it to help out community members. Recently, a woman came in looking for historical information on a local church. “We found a bunch of pictures,” says Nancy. “I scanned them for her and she went home with a full flash drive. She was thrilled.”

Hampden's "Upper Corner" (near present day Western Ave.), ca. 1904 (courtesy Hampden Historical Society via MMN)

Debbie Lozito, director of the Edythe L. Dyer Community Library in Hampden, reports that she spent most Tuesday evenings at the Historical Society last summer and fall scanning photographs and saving them on “our MCHP super-duper external hard drive.” When the Society re-opens next month, she’ll be there again! Meanwhile, over at Reeds Brook Middle School, teachers are working with students on a Hampden Academy history that may end up on the website in the future.

Islesboro Central School, ca. 1955 (courtesy Islesboro Historical Society via Maine Memory Network)

Islesboro Central School, ca. 1955 (courtesy Islesboro Historical Society via MMN)

Art education teacher Shar Piper of Islesboro Central School reports that her photography students “have been documenting important buildings and views of Islesboro that replicate a collection of old photographs from the Historical Society. They are “also working on a more accurate map, based on GPS points collected while doing the photography.” Look for these two great projects on the MCHP website down the road.

Herring being seined in weir, ca. 1930 (courtesy Lubec Memorial Library and MMN)

The Lubec MCHP team continues to meet, though not quite as frequently as during the intensive MCHP year. Focus has been on digitizing ever more photographs–more than 300 items are now online–and creating new exhibits for the website. Thanks to team member Ron Pesha, a whopping four exhibits have been added in the months since the official project ended, two as recently as February. Visit the exhibit page of the website to check them out, including two on the 1911 Centennial Celebration. (Prepared in advance of the upcoming Bicentennial Celebration in 2011.) Meanwhile, team members Ginny Morano and Jennifer Multhopp are preparing yet another exhibit, this one on the Lubec and Campobello herring weir fishery.

But that’s not all. Jennifer has continued to transcribe a lengthy oral history interview with sardine packer Edith Comstock, who is featured in the narrative on the website. At the library, Jennifer has put together an exhibit of photographs from the website. And together, she and Ginny presented website presentations over the past few months for the Lubec Women’s Club and at Oceanview Nursing Home. The latter was “a very rewarding experience for all concerned,” says Jennifer. “Many of the residents have deep connections to the fishing and processing industries. They contributed their own experiences as well as helpful information regarding people and events depicted in the photographs.”

The "New Portland Welcomes You" town sign, which also fittingly graces the welcome page of the town's MCHP website

New Portland team member Marilyn Gorman shares that her team has plans to scan some more photographs and write accompanying stories to add content to their MCHP website. “I have had several emails from people that have used the site,” she says. After visiting it, “a man that used to live here sent me some photos that he allowed me to copy. It’s been a very positive thing.”

"Town from River," Thomaston, Maine, 2002 (a painting by MCHP team member Peggy McCrea, contributed by Thomaston Historical Society via MMN)

And, finally, reporting on strong use of her own town’s MCHP website is former Thomaston Historical Society president, Margaret (Peggy) McCrea. “There has been frequent use of the site. In addition to having their questions answered, anyone that emails inquiries to THS–an average of 9-10 people per month–is referred to the MCHP website for more information.”

That’s certainly what we at MHS hope these MCHP websites continue to be for the foreseeable future–rich and overflowing fonts of information for those curious about Maine’s unique towns and cities.

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About mainechp

Maine Community Heritage Project at Maine Historical Society
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