To receive press releases or for more information, contact Sabrina Kettell, firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-548-2529 ext. 216.
Maine’s own National Fisherman magazine has always been a hardcore trade publication, which means that its readership falls inside a particular sphere of interest and activity. At the same time, its cultural importance shouldn’t be underestimated. Its photographic archive, entrusted to PMM in 2012 for long-term preservation, tells a critical story—the rise of industrial fishing and its consequences for fish and fishermen. This was never the intent of the publishers; after all, NF is a periodical, always intended to keep fish harvesters, and the interested public, up to date about emerging practices and technologies, changes in regulation, and to relate the experiences of men and women who make their living at sea and in the fisheries. That being the case, the magazine was on the ground—more accurately, at sea—during these crucial decades when technology changed fishing, as it did so many other arenas of human activity, beyond recognition.
National Fisherman is also a story of entrepreneurial vision—it’s a consolidation a handful of earlier, regional fishing papers, notably Atlantic Fisherman, whose photographs also reside here at Penobscot Marine Museum.
Most viewers wouldn’t fail to be intrigued by witnessing the many scenes of rugged characters maneuvering heavy trawl nets to haul in a catch or men balancing on scows heaped with oysters, to see snapshots of crews being rescued from foundering vessels, or to stumble across those instances of split-second chance and artistic confidence that make a good portrait. There are countless vignettes of people at work—repairing hulls, building traps of wire or wood (depending on the era), cleaning congealed oil off of beaches after tanker wrecks, pilots navigating narrow channels. So while there’s much within this body of work that is, admittedly, of very specific interest, there’s much else that captures the imagination and opens windows onto worlds seldom glimpsed by most.
On December 21st, after many more months of carefully digitizing and cataloging these legacy photographs, we’ll be rolling out the second group of 5000 on our online database. Our website features a browsing tool designed to help visitors explore the collection. To peruse these new images, check us out at https://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/national-fisherman/.
This project has been financed (in part) with Federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage program (administered by the National Park Service) and from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Maine on Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography is the joint effort of Kevin Johnson, Penobscot Marine Museum’s Photo Archivist; W.H. Bunting, Maine’s foremost interpreter of historic images; Earl G. Shettleworth Jr., Maine State Historian. This book uses images from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company to focus on early twentieth century Maine life, from people at work to people at play.
The Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company was a Belfast, Maine based “real photo postcard” company operated by R. Herman Cassens from 1909 to 1947. He dreamed of “Photographing the Transcontinental Trail–Maine to California,” focusing on small rural towns and villages. Although his dream was never fully realized, the company did manage to produce more than 40,000 glass plate negatives.
The EIP collection is now housed at Penobscot Marine Museum, where PMM Photo Archivist, Kevin Johnson oversees the preservation and digitization of that collection, along with several other photographic collections.
Johnson, puts his experience and knowledge of the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company collection into this book, along with 200 photographs from PMM’s extensive collection of negatives from EIP.
Book talks and signings will be held all over the state, including one with all three authors at PMM on Thursday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m.
For more information or to order a copy of the book, click here or please call 207-548-0334.
Maine On Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography (Signed by author, Kevin Johnson)
by W H. Bunting, Kevin Johnson, Earle G. Shettleworth Jr.
$37.00 (includes tax and shipping)
Temporarily out of stock
Description: Nineteenth-century Maine―famed for its lumbering, shipbuilding, and seafaring―has attracted copious attention from historians, but early twentieth-century Maine has not. Maine on Glass redresses this imbalance with 190 postcard photos and three of Maine’s foremost historians.
The images in this book were selected from 22,000 glass plate negatives created by the Eastern company between 1909 and World War II. As an archive of early twentieth-century Maine architectural photography, the Eastern collection (now housed at the Penobscot Marine Museum) has no equal, and it gives us many unexpected glimpses of Maine life.
In 2012, the international media company Diversified Communications donated over 15,000 photographs to Penobscot Marine Museum from its National Fisherman magazine archives. This collection, the largest of its kind, documents the U. S. fishing industry from the 1950’s to the 1990’s, providing a unique detailed visual survey of commercial fishing in this country during a time when the increasing industrialization of fishing had enormous and often devastating consequences for individual fishermen and for fishing stock. John K. Bullard, the Regional Administrator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), calls the National Fisherman collection of “…great national historical significance because it documents a critical period in the history of U.S. fishing.” In 2014 the museum received grant funding to digitize the collection. The first 5000 photographs are now available to the public online at www.penobscotmarinemuseum.org. All 15,000 images will be online by 2017.
The National Fisherman collection includes photographs of all aspects of the fishing industry. There are photographs of Greenpeace activists protesting foreign whaling, of fishing strikes in the Alaskan salmon fisheries, of tired East Coast draggers, foreign and domestic factory ships, and Alaskan halibut trawlers. There are photographs of the people of the industry; fishermen hauling their catch, fish processors in factories, and angry fishermen in meetings with industry regulators. National Fisherman photographed fishing vessels being built at sea, people working at fish piers, fish markets, and fishing industry trade shows. Now for the first time an international audience of scholars, historians, film makers, educators, curators, ecologists, policy makers and the general public will all have access to this wealth of visual documentation.
National Fisherman is the only national commercial fishing publication in the U.S. Over the course of their history, which can be traced back to a 1921 fish report in Belfast, Maine’s newspaper Republican Journal, they amassed what became the largest collection of 20th century photographs documenting the fishing industry. The decision to donate their vast photography archive to Penobscot Marine Museum was made by parent company Diversified Communications when National Fisherman’s photo submissions switched to digital.
Penobscot Marine Museum is extremely grateful to the following for their support: this project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and by The Windhover Foundation. This project has also been financed (in part) with Federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage program, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. However, the contents and opinions contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior.
A bottle filled with colored seabird guano (droppings) from Penobscot Marine Museum’s collection is currently on display in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The bottle is part of the exhibit The Norie Marine Atlas & Guano Trade which runs now through January 2017.
“This is a very rare object, I know of only one other like it,” reports PMM’s Collections Manager Cipperly Good. “When I heard that the Smithsonian was looking for guano objects for their exhibit, we were pleased to be able to loan them our bottle.” The bottle may have been made by Chinese guano miners to commemorate a voyage by the Searsport-owned ship HENRIETTA to Peru around 1880. Many Maine ships sailed to Peru for the guano trade which began in the early 19th century. Guano was thought to be the best fertilizer in the world, and Americans, British, and Germans flocked to the Chincha Islands off the coast of Peru to mine it. Dropping deposits from the seabirds on these islands reached up to 200 feet, however by the end of the 19th century, the guano was effectively depleted. Several Penobscot Marine Museum staff are travelling to Washington, D.C. for a special tour of the exhibit with National Museum of American History’s curator Paul Johnston.