The John Booras Collection of historic photographs of the Schooner Bowdoin, probably taken in 1924 on a return voyage of Arctic exploration from Greenland, is now online at www. PenobscotMarineMuseum.org. Most of these one hundred and forty photographs were taken at a stop the Bowdoin made on Monhegan Island, and they provide an intimate look at an Arctic expedition making its way home. A native-made kayak, a young girl in native Greenlandic dress, and northern dogs are seen on board ship. The Bowdoin’s famous captain Admiral Donald B. MacMillan, who was recruited for Arctic exploration by Robert E. Peary, is being presented with flowers by local children. John Booras, a retired postman who collects and researches old photographs, found these negatives in a shop in Massachusetts, bought the collection, and returned it to Maine by donating it to the Penobscot Marine Museum.
The Schooner Bowdoin was built in East Boothbay, Maine in 1920-21 and designed specifically for Arctic exploration at Admiral MacMillan’s request after he spent four years stranded in northern Greenland. MacMillan made over thirty expeditions to the Arctic and, according to the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum he “pioneered the use of radios, airplanes, and electricity in the Arctic, brought back films and thousands of photographs of Arctic scenes, and put together a dictionary of the Inuktikut language.” Together, Admiral MacMillan and the Bowdoin made over 26 voyages and sailed over 300,000 miles. The Schooner Bowdoin is currently owned by the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine and used as a training vessel. In 1989 she was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Penobscot Marine Museum is grateful to Mrs. Mildred Jones of the Bowdoin College Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum for her invaluable research on the John Booras Collection. Penobscot Marine Museum has one of the largest archives of historical photographs in Maine, with more than 140,000 negatives, prints, slides, postcards and daguerreotypes available for research, reproduction and licensing. Revealing many aspects of life from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, the collections range from vast archives to the works of individual professional photographers and intimate family albums.
For winter hours and events go to www.penobscotmarinemuseum.org or call 207-548-2529 or 0334. The Penobscot Marine Museum campus, 40 East Main Street, Searsport, Maine is open May 24 – October 19, Monday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm, Sunday noon to 5:00 pm.