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Portland History : Irish-American Community

posted: , by Abraham
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Seniors | Genealogy | Portland History

In March, Portlanders, Mainers, and New Englanders by the score celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Throughout the year, however, there is consistent and creative interest in the Irish history of this region. Here in the Portland Room, where we preserve and provide access to the Library’s Special Collections, we welcome researchers  of social history and genealogy- from all cultures, with great interest in the city’s Irish presence. Here are a few gems to commemorate the feast day of Saint Patrick:

The Book of Maine Irish is a handmade, hand-calligraphed book that lists many of the prominent names of Maine Irish families. Notice the Celtic knotting around the periphery of the leather-tooled book cover.

These spritely Portland students were photographed in 1960.

A portion of the historically Irish West End, with Saint Dominic’s Parish, at the lower left foreground. Right of the image area of the photo is the Gorham’s Corner area, where world-famous cinema director John Ford grew up. His father owned Feeney’s Grocery Store, on Center Street. There is a statue of John Ford at the western point of Gorham’s Corner.

Accompanying the above photo, showing Saint Dominic’s Parish, in the West End, here is the link to the Maine Irish Heritage Center, which is housed in the church building now.


Gorham’s Corner in 1945, when it was dubbed George W. Sullivan Square to commemorate a World War II casualty. The Honor Roll in the neighborhood included many Irish names, and it was displayed nearby.

Baking bread, under the watchful eyes of Saint Patrick, in 1954. Note the shamrocks and the Aer Lingus emblem above the statue!

Whether it’s 1961 or 2011, singing Too-Ra-Loo-Ra is never out of style.

Here are two locally-written books in the Library on the topic of Irish History.

And, finally, on this Saint Patrick’s Day… keep your eyes open- you never know who might be sitting next to you reading the Portland Press Herald !!

Portland History : African-American community

posted: , by Abraham
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Seniors | Art & Culture | Portland History

February is Black History Month. Here are a few items from the Library’s Portland Room, the place to delve into the city’s many-faceted history.  Out collections include books, maps, periodicals, manuscripts, and photographic archives.

African-American history- in the city of Portland and the state of Maine- dates back to the early years of this city’s settlement.  The Portland Freedom Trail accentuates the city’s role in the anti-slavery Underground Railroad (see below).  One of the markers is just a few steps east of the Library on Monument Square, along Congress Street.

A new book, which includes a chronicle of the Civil Rights Movement, as it manifested here in Maine.

An item from our Archive, recently donated by the Portland NAACP.

In the above image, the family of a World War II veteran is posing for a Portland Press Herald photographer, in 1949.

Another Press Herald image. This one was taken in 1937.

This group photo was printed in the Press Herald in 1957.

Note the sheet music to a very famous song!

The above archival item advertised a sermon given by the Pastor of the Abyssinian Church of Portland, in 1853.

The Reverend Green had survived slavery.

The photo below shows the Green Memorial A.M.E. Church, on Munjoy Hill.

This church building was built in 1914, and is still prominently at the corner of

Sheridan Street and Monument Street.

(The photo was taken in 1961.)

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