Visit the Penobscot Marine Museum
in a whole new way!
On the evening of June 11th, Penobscot Marine Museum is excited to offer guided tours throughout the 3 ½ acre campus. Tours last around 45 minutes and explore the history of Maine through specific stories relating to Searsport and Penobscot Bay. Staff-led tours stop outside 9 historic buildings plus allow time for participants to explore boat barns and the "Gone Fishing" exhibit. Child-friendly tours are available, pre-registration is required.

Tours are scheduled every half hour between 5:30pm and 7pm. To meet state guidelines, tours may be limited to up to 10 people from a single household. For the safety of our staff and all participants, participants should maintain 6 feet away from people not in their household and face coverings are required.

Tours are $20/household, contact Jeana at for more information or to register. Pre-registration is required, no walk-ins will be accepted. Space is limited. Rain date is Friday, June 12th.
Maritime Trivia Nights

T uesdays in June at 7:00pm
Looking for something to do? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Test your knowledge of the people, places, and things in some of the most popular maritime books and movies at our Maritime Media Trivia Night! Trivia will be Tuesdays in June at 7PM, and each week's session will be dedicated to either maritime literature or maritime film. The game and instructions will be offered through Zoom, so make sure you've got your laptop, smartphone, or tablet all charged up. We hope you can join us for a weekly dose of trivia fun. Dust off that copy of Moby Dick and look around for that Jaws VHS - you've got some studying to do! 

Meeting ID: 820 9301 3405
Password: 015067
Documenting COVID-19 in
Maine's Maritime Industries
Penobscot Marine Museum wants to document how COVID-19 is affecting Maine's maritime industries.  Have you made up posters to announce closures to your customers?  Have you written a letter to the editor?  Are you keeping a journal?  Do you have an account book that shows the financial impact?  Do you have pictures of new protocols being implemented?

If so, and you are willing to donate objects, photos, and documents to the Penobscot Marine Museum, please contact curator Cipperly Good at or 207-548-2529 x212.
Next up for PMM's digital book club:

In June, we're going to jump into two Maine classics. Not exactly fiction, they're still enjoyable reads.
Book 9 (6/1-6/15): Experience the heyday of shipping on the Penobscot River and Bay in Sailing Days on the Penobscot. Written by George S. Wasson and first published in 1932, the book is a detailed illustration and also wistful remembrance of the exciting days of the past. Find it here.
Book 10 (6/16-6/30): Henry D. Thoreau will also take us back to 19th century Maine in The Maine Woods. If you've been meaning to check Thoreau off your reading list, this is your opportunity. Find it here.

Also coming soon...A special video of the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" created by maritime museum professionals and enthusiasts from all around the country!
Join the conversation here.
Photo Archives News
More Eastern Illustrating Negatives
Reunited with Collection

Thanks to generous donations from Ann and Nat Foss, David Jones, and Bob Pieri, we were able to acquire 31 Eastern Illustrating glass plate negatives from an antique photography dealer. These "new" negatives include 16 negatives of Caribou and 15 negatives of New Sewden, as well as a single negative from Readfield. The negatives have since been digitized and added to our online database. You can see them all here. As we complete one fundraising effort to acquire missing Eastern negatives, another opportunity has emerged. An antique dealer in Massachusetts has 266 Eastern glass negatives, and so we ask our supporters once again to help if they are able. We need to raise $6,000 for this effort. This group includes plates from Maine as well as from CT, VT, NH and NY. You can see a list of what's available here. If you would like to make a donation, towards this purchase, and further purchases of glass plate negatives, you can do so here. Thank You!!! 
Motion Picture Pavillion,
Tallywood Inn,  Lake Maranacook, ME
Tibbetts Hotel,
New Sweden, ME
Free Baptist Church, Caribou, ME
New Photo Collections Web Pages Added!

Belfast Broiler Festival, Peggy McKenna Collection
As many of you know, our vast photographic archive is made up of scores of individual collections, each bringing a unique perspective. Learning about the people who made the photos or collected them can shed light on who these people were and why they are significant. Quarantine has forced us from much of our normal day to day work but has offered us an opportunity to improve our online offerings. Even more coming soon! Check out the following new additions or updates to our  Photography Collections page :

Pitch Pine- Tar and Pitch
for Shipbuilding
By Cipperly Good,  PMM Curator
The riches that the British, French, and Dutch explorers found in Maine came not from gold, but in the form of fish and lumber. Having depleted those resources in Europe by the 1700s, they sent work parties and eventually colonists to extract these materials vital for feeding and shipping goods back to the motherland. One highly prized resource was Pinus rigida (pitch pine), which provided the tar that preserved the watercraft. Tar  prevented rot in the ship timbers and standing rigging (ropes holding up the masts, yards, and  booms). It sealed the cracks between deck and hull planks from rain coming down and seas washing over them.
Roll of Oakum.
When a donor gifted the Penobscot Marine Museum with a roll of tarred oakum, the evocative sweet smell transported me back to tall ship voyages and the attendant memories of fresh sea air, sun, and the mix of peace and adrenaline of sailing. Oakum is the tarred strands of picked apart rope, wedged into gaps in the planking and sealed with a seam of pine tar to prevent deck and hull leaks.  
To extract the pine tar, shipbuilders put pitch pine logs into a kiln, where the lack of oxygen and high heat inside resulted in tar and charcoal. The oozing tar was collected. If the tar was boiled, it became pitch, which when spread on hulls hardened into a watertight seal. Pitch pine could also be tapped, with the resulting "sap" when distilled becoming turpentine.
Bill of Lading from the ship ISAAC CARVER.

Like the Europeans before them, Maine depleted its stores of pitch pine, despite conservation measures to prohibit the cutting of trees under 12 inches in diameter. The industry moved to the southeastern US, especially to the Carolinas where longleaf pine was the tar tree of choice. Mainers stayed in the market by transporting tar in Maine-built ships to markets throughout the world.
Meet Our Interns
We are excited to welcome three college/grad school interns. They will be completing their experiencing remotely, so look for exciting new digital content like trivia night and other summer programming on social media. They will also be completing behind-the-scenes projects and learning more about a career in museums.

Lauren Taylor is our Digital Collections Intern this summer. Lauren is a current  first year graduate student in Museum Studies at the Cooperstown Graduate Program specializing in c ollections and curation. She has previously worked with National Park Service sites, maritime museums, and local historical societies in managing collections, performing research, and documenting oral histories.

Katie Lade is a student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis,where she is pursuing her Master of Arts in Museums, Heritage, and Public History. In 2019, she received her Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Webster University. She is highly motivated by historical research, working with the public, and engaging with complex historical narratives and objects as a way to encourage lifelong learning. She aspires to one day work in public programming, where she hopes to facilitate meaningful dialogues about the past and its relevance to contemporary audiences. In  her free time, Katie enjoys road trips, painting, and drinking far too  much coffee.

Matt Zink is a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University, and received a Bachelor of Arts in History this past May. Throughout the course of his undergraduate degree, Matt has developed a passion for research and education in United States history, and seeks to continue that passion through higher education in the spring. Museums have been an important part of his life, and his experiences with them in both a recreational and professional capacity have led him to pursue a career in the field. Outside of museums, Matt also enjoys movies, baseball, and spending time with his dog Zoe!
Passing the Time
How to pass the time without leaving a certain number of square feet? If you've been sailing from Boston to Buenos Aires along with Ernest Perkins in 1892 (Read more here), you know he spends his time writing, sketching, climbing aloft, chatting, and doing a lot of reading. If you've spent some of your time the past few months reading along with our digital book club (find out more here!), you might remember in Sarah Orne Jewett's  The Country of the Pointed Firs, how Captain Littlepage described deep-sea captains passing the time: 
"A captain is not expected to be familiar with his crew, and for company's sake in dull days and nights he turns to his book. Most of us old shipmasters came to know 'most everything about something; one would take to readin' on farming topics, and some were great on medicine - but Lord help their poor crews! - or some were all for history, and now and then there'd be one like me that gave his time to the poets. I was well acquainted with a shipmaster that was all for bees an beekeepin'; and if you met him in port and went aboard, he'd sit and talk a terrible while about their havin' so much information, and the money that could be made out of keepin' 'em. He was one of the smartest captains that ever sailed the seas, but they used to call the NEWCASTLE, a great bark he commanded for many years, Tuttle's beehive..."

In her article, "Domestic Life on Ships," published in The American Neptune in 1942, Searsport-native Joanna Colcord goes into more detail about the variety of hobbies captains picked up.
"Many shipmasters, particularly those who made long voyages alone, developed hobbies...Captain Andrew S. Pendleton was a master hand at making net lace; he finished a bedspread each voyage. Captain David A. Scribner's specialty was macramé lace. Captain Joseph P. Sweetser became more than an amateur painter of marines. Captain Walter M. Mallett was a camera fan away back in the gelatin-negative days. Captain Edward Payson Nichols carried a printing press, and he and his family got out a periodical called Ocean Chronicle which is a graphic and interesting record. The hobby of Captain John Drew of the SEA WITCH also was writing - he was a regular contributor to Maine papers under the pseudonym of 'The Kennebecker.' Captain H.A. Starrett, in command of the first ship FRANK N. THAYER, during a period of seven years labored over a large rigged model of the vessel which he kept set up in the cabin..."
Captain Henry A. Starrett's model of the FRANK N. THAYER, now part of the PMM collection.

Whether passenger, captain, family or crew, life at sea was more enjoyable with a hobby. With extra time at home, have you started a new hobby or revisited an old one? 

I have revisited tatting. Comprised almost entirely of repeating one simple knot, tatting likely evolved from the nets of fishermen. It's hard to pinpoint exactly where it came from, but if it doesn't have nautical roots, it's nautical-adjacent. I tat with a shuttle that is similar in function but much smaller than most net-making shuttles. Tatting can also be done with a needle. Typically, tatting is used as a lace edging and it makes lovely doilies, but I enjoy making small motifs for decoration or jewelry.

My favorite tatting shuttle, a well-used pre-1920 metal shuttle, and a tatted fish bracelet.

Share your new or revisited hobbies with us by commenting on our Facebook post here or emailing me at!
PMM education director Jeana Ganskop
Working from home
Volunteer Spotlight
Growing up, Karen Johnson spent many unforgettable hours on the beaches of Rhode Island close to where she lived. As most kids do, she found other places alluring (even those which seem ordinary to adults), and when she read about Bangor, Maine in a National Geographic article, she was compelled by it enough to launch her adult life there many years later.

Her home state held her through college at the University of Rhode Island, where she finished a degree in zoology in 1973. Then as now, an undergraduate degree was no guarantee of a career in the field you studied, and Karen took a job at Miller & Rhoades, an old-school department store in Richmond, VA to bide her time. While living there, she got wind of a free training in cytotechnology offered at the Medical College of Virginia. She was admitted, and the year of training she received proved to be the key to her life's work. Shortly afterward, she got a position at a pathology lab in, of course, Bangor.

The 39 years she spent peering at microscopic images never got tiresome for Karen; the immanent world of cells proved to be endlessly fascinating. She worked in the field (examining cervical pathology) for long enough to see the development of progressively innovative techniques for gathering tissue samples, and the adoption of digital rendering equipment made the work of studying samples vastly easier.

We asked her which facets of her life aligned to bring her to the PMM photo archives to offer her time in retirement. It seems she's a visual person; her professional activities echoed her long-standing interest in photography, which she first explored with her dad's Argus rangefinder camera. Everyone knows what a ricochet point a good teacher can be, forever influencing one's trajectory; Karen had a high school history teacher who brought pre-war Europe to life for her and perhaps awakened a penchant for history in general. As a kid, she made a transatlantic crossing aboard the USS Constitution with her father, then a Navy pilot, from Naples to NYC, and her later visit to Mystic Seaport in the 1960s further invigorated her interest in maritime life.

As has been the case with many of our volunteers, Karen first toured our wing with the Pen Bay Stewards, a program which inculcates its students with a rounded sense of the region, including its past. She started coming back every week in July of 2017 and has been a dedicated presence here ever since. Much of her work has been focused on describing the enormously creative output of the late illustrator Sam Manning, who exhaustively illustrated the world of traditional shipbuilding and boatbuilding. Karen had the opportunity to meet Sam and his wife, Susan at a meeting of the Maritime History group in Camden. Paying them a visit at home, she was intrigued to note that Manning's meticulous drawing style paralleled the level of organization in their house.

In addition to her cataloging work in the photo archives, Karen has taken up amateur botany and is currently taking a course on mosses through the North Branchl Nature Center in Montpelier, VT. She's also an avid grandmother. Like most of us, she's got cabin fever these days, and dreams of visiting places which now seem exotic in this era of hunkering down: New York City, which she's always loved, and San Francisco, where a good friend of hers lives. Also like many of us, she'd like to throw a giant party to make up for all the quiet time. We hope we're invited. Thanks very much, Karen, for bringing your talents and your good nature to our microcosm.
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