Burbank Users: The Burbank Branch parking lot will be closed on Saturday, April 26 until 3 pm due to the closure of Stevens Ave. for a road race. The branch will be open for normal hours Saturday from 9am - 5 pm.
Life of the Library
The world at your fingertips right in your neighborhood.
Portland Public Library’s mission is to serve the Greater Portland Community by providing a diverse collection of books and other resources, with access to information resources worldwide. The library’s services support the educational, informational, and recreational interests of all community members.
When not being used in the Lewis Gallery, our nineteenth-century vitrines (glass display cases) are hosting displays from our collection in the Main Library Lower Level – Information Desk area. Our first display, on view now through November, is a selection of sheet music from the Portland Room Archives.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth century musical life revolved around the family piano, and sheet music was provided for home performing mostly from publishers in New York’s Tin Pan Alley. But most large cities had their own small music publishers (who were usually instrument and sheet music sellers) and many songwriters would publish with local firms or simply publish their own works.
Portland could boast several such publishers, including the Paine family, whose most distinguished member, John Knowles Paine, was Harvard’s first Professor of Music. J.K.’s father Jacob and uncle William sold instruments and music at 113 Middle Street. The Paines published many of the compositions of Hermann Kotzschmar, the leading Portland musician of the period. Cressey and Allen had a music shop at 566 Congress Street; Cressey was also a composer and published many of his own pieces.
Many of the compositions featured in our exhibit were on local subjects: dance pieces named for Portland landmarks: the Forest City Polka, the Diamond Cove Waltz, and others in that vein. Others were hymns to local pride: Somewhere in Maine, Down in Maine. Patriotic compositions were standbys of the home music collection, and we have several from the Civil War to World War II.
We’ve included two items published “away”. The first, Kathleen Mavourneen, was a sentimental pseudo-Irish ballad popularized by tenor John McCormick. It was written by Frederick Nicholls Crouch, an English musician who lived and taught in Portland until his secessionist leanings made him unpopular in 1861; he joined a Virginia regiment as a trumpeter. The other New York publication is perhaps the most familiar college song of the 1920s, Rudy Vallee’s Maine Stein Song.
We hope that local music lovers, local history buffs, and everybody else will stop by the lower level and see this exhibit!
City directories provide a wealth of information that can help you with your family history research. Published annually, they consist of alphabetical listings of residents, with their home address and, often, their occupation. Beginning in 1882 in Portland, Maine, they also include an alphabetical listing of streets along with the residents (heads of household) at each address. The directories also list businesses, organizations, associations, the names and addresses of teachers, fire department officials, and various state, county, and city officials and administrators.
Here is a sample listing from 1920 and how to decode it:
Amburg Angus (Annice) stevedore h 152 Newbury
Angus Amburg and his wife Annice lived at 152 Newbury Street. Angus worked as a stevedore. They might have had children, but there is no other Amburg listed with the same address, so it is unlikely there were any adult male children living with them at the time. (Here is where you would have to consult other sources, such as the 1920 Census, for example, to flesh out the picture.)
A few notes of caution:
*Women were not listed in early directories, unless the woman was widowed or owned her own business.
*They may contain spelling or transcription errors. For example, the 1920 directory shows that Fabbio Ciconi lived at 8 Newbury Street. The address listing for 8 Newbury, however, lists a Tabbio Cicome. Same man? Probably, but as with any research, you will want to keep your critical senses sharp.
*Many streets in Portland were renumbered in the 1870s.
*And, finally, listen to the tone of exasperation in the introduction to the 1895 edition, written by the publishers: “Our canvassers meet with many obstacles. Addresses that are right to-day are wrong to-morrow, and persons fail to report changes when made after they have been visited. Persons whose judgment should teach them the folly of such a course are careless about giving information…”
That said, there is still an abundance of information to be had from the Directories. Be prepared to spend some time, though – they can be strangely addictive!
The Portland Room has Portland City Directories from 1823 to the present (with some missing years), as well as a few Directories for the islands and surrounding towns.
People with new business ideas are invited to participate in this Maine event called Startup Weekend on October 25-27th 2013. There are limited early bird tickets so go to http://portlandmaine.startupweekend.org/ for a schedule of the weekend activities as well as a way to get tickets in order to participate. Please sign up now since space is limited.
A Startup Weekend is unique because it brings together entrepreneurs, designers, developers and startup enthusiasts to participate in an intense 54-hours weekend to take new business ideas from concept to launch. Participants start at 5:30pm Friday night and work late into each night until they leave on Sunday night at 8:30pm. Nationally, 36 % of ideas developed during a Startup Weekend have developed into new businesses.
On Friday night, attendees will take the open mic to pitch their ideas to the group of up to 75 participants in 60-seconds or less. After groups form, the rest of the weekend will be spent developing business models around the most popular ideas with the help of mentors, coaches and seasoned startup entrepreneurs. By Sunday, teams will be ready to present their ideas in front of a panel of judges who will award prizes, including co-working space and memberships in mentorship programs, all of which are targeted to help teams build their startups after the weekend.
Individual volunteers from PelotonLabs, AIGA, Blackstone Accelerates Growth, Maine Center for Creativity, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Olympico Strategies, Portland Greendrinks, Portland Public Library, Rising Tide Consulting, Shines and Jecker laboratories, and SMCC are organizing this first local effort.