The Woman’s Literary Union was organized in 1889. The organization’s stated goal was to promote the intellectual life of its members through lectures, entertainment, and community work. The Portland Room has a small collection of pamphlets and ephemera pertaining to this organization, which we have digitized and uploaded to the library’s Digital Commons platform: http://digitalcommons.portlandlibrary.com/wlu/
Though small in scope, the collection offers tantalizing glimpses into the lives of some of the city’s women. It also provides opportunities to explore other online historical resources.
For example, Mrs. Hubbard’s annual dues receipt gives her address. A photograph of her house as it appeared in 1924, a year after the date on this receipt, can be seen on the Maine Memory Network web site. The digitization of the 1924 tax photographs was a collaborative project involving the City of Portland, the Maine Historical Society, and the Portland Public Library.
Gail Laughlin, whose name appears on a 1926 list of officers, had an illustrious career as a lawyer, women’s rights advocate, and politician. You can see census entries and city directory listings for her by accessing Ancestry.com through the Portland Public Library’s computers (http://www.portlandlibrary.com/research/) (Incidentally, you can also find a photograph of her house in the 1924 tax records collection.)
We did not pursue every lead in the collection or track down every name. We leave that for other researchers. We just hope the collection will spark interest or get you curious about other historical collections. As always, call us (207-871-1700 x747), email us (email@example.com), or stop by if you are curious about Portland history or library resources!
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