Peggy McKenna Collection
The Peggy McKenna Collection was donated to the Penobscot Marine Museum in 2015 by her husband Doug Thomas and her good friend Wendy Rowland. Peggy McKenna was born in Pennsylvania in 1947, and moved to Montville, Maine in 1971. With some time out working in New York City as a photographer, she spent most of her adult life photographing the life and people of Montville and Waldo County, working as staff photographer both for the Republican Journal (1980-83) and the Waldo Independent (1988-2002).
She also worked extensively as a freelance photographer for a wide variety of publications and for her own studio. Her photographs, exhibited widely in Central Maine, reveal a deep respect both for her local place and for her subjects.
Her subject matter covers everything but her strongest work is her portraiture. She had a real knack for forming a connection with her subjects that allowed them to relax in front of her lens. She worked primarily in 35 mm, and used both color and black & white. The collection is massive in size and is currently being processed.
In the early 1990s, photographer Peggy McKenna and staff writer Jeff Shula, both working for Belfast’s Waldo Independent newspaper, produced a lengthy series of interviews/photo spreads called “Fireside Chats.” These stories focused on wise, colorful residents whose lives spanned most of the 20th century. From their favorite rocking chair or their kitchen table, they told their life stories.
The tales, in addition to revealing the resilience and humanity of each person, also opened a window into the challenges and joys of Waldo County life in a bygone era. When Peggy’s archive came to PMM, we partnered with Jeff Shula and the Belfast Historical Society to bring those stories and photos out of the past. The project was supported in part by from the David and Emily Muir Community Fund/Maine Community Foundation In 2018, “Fireside Chats,” a paperback book of 18 conversations that reveal the character — and characters — of Waldo County’s colorful past was released.