More Archives, More Inspiration on MDI

I got to spend a couple more days on Mount Desert Island doing research this last week, and I discovered a beautiful library in Northeast Harbor.  The building is only about ten years old; it’s bright and open and airy, and since I came upon it on a blue-sky summer day, I was happy to be in a space that made me feel like I was still in touch with the outdoors.  There’s a Maine room full of great volumes, many that are rare and some that are unpublished and unique to the library. Anyone who likes to incorporate a little history into their vacation will find it a great spot to linger between hikes up the mountains of Acadia and beach combing along the island coves.  And speaking of those enchanting coves, here’s a shot I took at Seal Harbor just before I stopped at the library:


But I didn’t just stroll along the beach and browse the old book collection, I really did try to do some research. And the Northeast Harbor Library suited my purposes there too.  They have their own archive of historical documents and artifacts, and a very helpful archivist.  Here’s Hannah Stevens with the collection in the background:

ImageConfronted with rooms full of history, it’s easy to get over-whelmed by the possibilities.  My first challenge is to tease out the material that is specific to the 1920s, since my book will revolve around that decade, and then to save it, label it, and note it in ways that might prove useful later.  All the reminiscences, artifacts, documents and conversations…I must admit, sometimes I wonder how I’ll ever pull them together into a book.  My head starts to spin, but then I tell myself not to panic. I browse each relic that comes my way; I try to soak it in and trust that when I’m ready to write the book, the stories will emerge.

So I put my writer’s anxieties aside and enjoyed the process.   And back in Bar Harbor that evening, I relaxed with blueberry ale and a fresh seafood diablo.  Research trips have their perks!


About Luann Yetter

Luann Yetter is the author of Bar Habor in the Roaring Twenties, Portland's Past and Remembering Franklin County, all published by the History Press. She is a writing instructor at the University of Maine at Farmington. She has had a life-long interest in social history beginning with a steady diet of Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a little girl in the Midwest. She now lives in an 18th century house in a small town in Maine and loves to "time travel" when she writes.
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2 Responses to More Archives, More Inspiration on MDI

  1. George Hay says:

    Hi Lu

    I was talking to Frank earlier. I had been reading a novel called the Lost Constitution partially set in a Portland Maine rare book stores and thought of you guys and maybe visiting sometime soon.

    He mentioned you blogs and historical interests….couple things on my mind and Portland sounds like neat place to see.

    1) Colonial period “Kings Highway/Post Road” that I’m assumes starts somewhere near Portland and runs down to St Augustine’s Florida. El Camino Real, the Spanish Colonial Highway and missions much better documented. Interesting that Ben Franklin as first post master helped on improvements of English Kings Highway (chartered by royal governors). Alot of interesting stories and themes and colonies/towns it tied together, particularly during revolutionary war. First interstate highway and information highway in a sense.

    2) Religious history of New England and ties to subsequent settlement of short lived colony of first Quaker Commonwealth of West Jersey (1673-1702) on Delaware River before merger with largely Presbyterian colony of East Jersey. Evidently William Penn and other English Quakers marketed real estate not only to various European Quaker Meetings, but ones in New England. Cape May County NJ drew a number Quaker, Presbyterian and Baptist families from New England that were largely farmer/sailers/ship builders.

    3) Lastly, as a Gettysburg College grad, Joshua Chamberlain from Maine and role in battle of Gettysburg is an interesting figure in battle if Gettysburg and guess was a college professor and later governor. The Maine 22 I think was group of soldiers he led. Always curious whether his famine in part was subsequent political career.

    See you all sometime in future.

    George, Ocean City NJ

    • Luann Yetter says:

      Hi George,
      I just looked up The Lost Constitution. It looks like a good novel, and I put it on my “to read” list. I hope you make it back to Maine some time. I think you would really enjoy Portland. In Portland’s Past I researched the Quakers a bit. I was interested to learn how they were often ostracized for their differences. So much more to learn…Thanks for getting in touch! I have a new book out about Bar Harbor — have you ever been there?

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