The study of photographic records allows us to sharpen our keen eyes for details. Sometimes there are legible license plates on cars, signs along roads, even wall calendars in rooms- helping identify when a picture was taken.
In this example (below), we can tell wherea picture was taken, by noticing a landmark. The photo was taken in 1957 by a Portland Press Herald photographer, and we can know the exact location by recognizing the Customs House in the background. Looking from the waterfront toward the Customs House, the Customs House Wharf is at left, and the Maine Pier (today’s Maine State Pier) is at right. Today’s Casco Bay ferries dock right where this fishing boat is pictured.
_________________________________________________________________________________________And here (just below) is the U.S. Customs House, which opened in 1872.
Postcards! Although not manuscripts in themselves, these images provide many levels of information- not simply showing us how things looked, but also what subjects were selected to be topics for postcards that visitors to a place might wish to send back home. Here in the Portland Room, we have a growing collection of local postcards- some older than newer. Each era of the city’s portrayal is equally valuable as documentation. And of course, there are the notes written by the senders! Some examples below:
Tukey’s Bridge, in the 1900s. The note on the back of the card shows it was mailed in 1907.
The Portland Exposition Building in the 1920s. Postage was 1 cent.
Portland Harbor, near the Old Port, in the early 1980s. Can you notice what hadn’t yet been built in this picture?
Yes, it’s that time of the year! Here are a few images from a recent exhibit in the Portland Room, displaying books from our collections on the topic of education and schools. We focused on the old-fashioned “3 R’s.”
A primer, a math book, and a slide rule
Reading and writing books
Portland school reports, with an old Portland Public Library card