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Diary or Almanac? Enoch Freeman’s annotated almanac/diary (1729-1786)

posted: , by Gabrielle
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Portland History

While cataloging manuscript material for the Portland Room the other day, we came across a set of bound almanacs annotated with the handwritten diary entries of Enoch Freeman (1706-1788).

Freeman diary under wraps, photo courtesy of the Portland Room


Some research revealed that such annotated or interleaved almanacs were not at all uncommon. One historian likens these early almanacs to the iPhone in that they were used interactively. (If you are interested in reading her article, click here.)

Photo courtesy of the Portland Room




The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, has many such almanacs in their collections and it was their library catalog that provided the clues for how to catalog our very own interleaved almanac.

The first question was: is this an almanac or a diary? It is both, obviously, but it had been cataloged as an almanac originally, with just a note to indicate that it was a diary as well. We decided to highlight the diary aspect, creating an original record for that unique item, and then linking it to the record for the almanacs.  By creating two records and linking them together, the catalog entry better represents the physical item.


one of Freeman’s diary entries, photo courtesy of the Portland Room




Are you intrigued? Do you want to see some early almanacs (second only to the Bible in their popularity in colonial homes)? Stop by the library’s Portland Room on the 2nd floor, Monday through Friday. Want to read more about almanacs? Check out Marvel’s Academic OneFile and see what you can find (or ask a librarian for help!)


Peaks Island Archives online!

posted: , by Abraham
tags: Adults | Teens | Discover Portland | Seniors | Portland History

The complete collection of Peaks Island Branch Library Archives is now freely accessible online on the Library’s Digital Commons page.

The collection comprises archival artifacts such as postcards, photographs, cemetery records, scrapbooks, periodicals, maps, reports, audiovisuals (including sound recordings and books by Ruth Sargent), and Peaks Island printed material spanning from the early 20th century- up to the present. More than 4,500 scans were made.

Above: An original photograph of Forest City Landing.
Below: Some examples of Peaks Island postcards.

The collection’s Maps are found at this link.

The collection’s array of Periodicals (newsletters and newspapers) are found at this link, including the complete run of the Island Times.

Processing (arrangement, description, archival rehousing), digital scanning, and web uploading was accomplished between October 2017 and January 2018, in the PPL’s Portland Room, by a production team consisting of Portland Room staff and Peaks Island volunteers. We are grateful for the supporting generosity of the Peaks Island Fund and the Casco Bay Islands Alliance in making this project possible.

Project photos:

Nancy, Monica, and Abraham- processing the Peaks Island collection, and building the electronic Finding Aid, in the Portland Room.

Cindy, Eric, and Sarah- digitizing the Peaks Island scrapbooks, using a special Zeutschel book scanner at the Main Library.

PPL archivist Abraham scanning, encoding, and uploading back issues of “Nor’ by East” to PPL’s Peaks Island Archives Digital Commons page.

The original archival material, now preserved and digitized, will return to the Peaks Island Branch Library, later this year. Happy Browsing!

All the archival materials are processed and rehoused in preservation enclosures, as well as digitized.

Portland Fire Department : 250th Anniversary

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

Portland’s esteemed and much-loved Fire Department celebrates its 250th anniversary this month. The City of Portland will recognize two-and-a-half centuries of the Fire Department’s service, with a special proclamation and observance at the Portland Fire Museum, on March 29th. Joining this extraordinary commemoration, the Library’s Portland Room is now exhibiting artifacts and photographs that attest to the brilliant history of the Portland Fire Department.


Above: Apr 1947 – Portland Fire Department fireman on a ladder truck; Second Parish Presbyterian Church (371 Congress Street) in background.

Below: January 1952 – Fire, at James Fruit Company, 225 Commercial Street.

Below: Portland Fire Department locations, in order:

Central Fire Station, Congress Street, Woodfords Corner, and Peaks Island:


Below: Views from the Portland Room archival exhibit:





Additional artifacts, such as a leather bucket, an antique Portland fire helmet, and a hose nozzle from an East Deering firehouse, have been lent by the Portland Fire Museum for the exhibit.
Below: Another ladder rescue, this time by Fireman Joseph R. Miller, on October 19, 1955.

Come on up and check out the exhibit!
The Portland Room is open Mondays-Thursdays, 10am-7pm; Fridays, 10am-6pm.

Archivist’s postscriptum:
During the processing (arrangement, description, and archival rehousing) of our large collection of photographic still film, I discovered a negative which had unusual crayon lines drawn across both sides:

A series of immersion baths in distilled water and Photo-Flo 200 wetting agent loosened the crayon marks from both the emulsion and acetate-base sides of the film, allowing me to completely remove the marks with cotton swabs:

The scanned image reveals the scene of a fire at Maine Medical Center, on August 11, 1962, and now the visual information is preserved.

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