The Lubec Memorial Library is the next stop for the “Washington County Through Eastern’s Eye” which is drawn from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company collection. Eastern Illustrating made real photo postcards using glass plate negatives shot from 1909 through the 1950s. The exhibit, a collaboration between the Penobscot Marine Museum and the various historical societies and historians of Washington County, has made stops in Cherryfield, Steuben, Machiasport, Machias, Jonesport and most recently Addison. The exhibit will be open to the public beginning on September 28th and run through the month of October.
In conjunction with the exhibit opening in Lubec, Kevin Johnson, curator and photo archivist for the collection, will give an illustrated talk on the Washington County photos at the Whiting Community Building, Rt. 1 in Whiting on September 28 at 2:00 pm. The exhibit features 33 framed prints with captions, and a companion “virtual exhibit” will feature dozens more photos and captions on the museum’s website. Research for the exhibit was conducted by PMM volunteer Liz Fitsimmons who worked with individuals and historical societies from virtually every Washington County community. The exhibit was funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts and will be the first of four county exhibits the museum will produce.
The Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company photos, taken a century ago, are aesthetically beautiful to view and are fascinating on many levels for the history and sense of place that they convey. The founder of the company sent his crews with their box cameras into tiny towns all over the region, instructing them to ask local citizens what was important about their town. This is a unique feature of the Eastern collection, giving it great breadth and authenticity. The collection is a survey of what nearly every New England town looked like in the first of half the 20th century.
The Eastern collection is the largest single photographic collection in Maine, consisting of nearly 50,000 images of Maine and the rest of New England and upstate New York. Most of the photos are on glass-plate negatives. The museum is raising funds to acquire more of Eastern’s negatives, and have recently added a searchable database online on their website which includes nearly 30,000 Eastern Illustrating photographs. www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org Photo prints are available from the museum, with proceeds from their sale going to expand the collection.