Maine Found Photos: Time Travel Might Be The Greatest Form of Procrastination.


flickr commons

Girl Riding Turtle Astride. That was all it took for me to become lost in the archives of copyright free photography of decades past on Flickr Commons.

I’m a writer. I love a story. What I love even more is when I have to figure out a story, which is perhaps why I have become increasingly infatuated with journalism and feature writing since I began freelancing a few years ago. Getting lost in the bowels of Flickr Commons, which has amassed thousands of photographs for which there either is no copyright or the copyright has long expired, was probably an inevitability.

I spent an entire, self-indulgent afternoon stepping back in time and while I accomplished nothing in the sense of putting words on paper, I was certainly inspired. I find myself now painfully overflowing with ideas and the limits of time and space are aggravating; why can’t my job just be to figure out who all these faces are? What lives they lead? I must know! And if I cannot know, then I must imagine.


When you plug “Maine” into the search bar, it should come as no surprise that one of the first pictures is two small boys in plaid with potatoes. What’s more Maine than that? Maybe if one of them was suckin’ on a lobster claw.
Children gathering potatoes on a large farm, vicinity of Caribou, Aroostook County, Me. Schools do not open until the potatoes are harvested  (LOC)

From the Library of Congress, this photograph’s caption dutifully noted that “Schools did not open until potatoes were harvested.” 

Clearing away debris, Bangor fire  (LOC)This one—circa 1911—shows the aftermath of the legendary fire that nearly destroyed the city of Bangor. Horse drawn carriages pulled rubble from the streets as the men, showed here, attempt to clean up.

Nan de Gallant, 4 Clark St., Eastport, Maine, 9 year old cartoner, Seacoast Canning Co., Factory #2 ... (LOC)

At first glance I thought perhaps this was a still from a horror movie; something very Stephen King-esque about this girl’s expression. The caption of the photo seems to adequately explain her murderous gaze:

Nan de Gallant, 4 Clark St., Eastport, Maine, 9 year old cartoner, Seacoast Canning Co., Factory #2. Packs some with her mother. Mother and two sisters work in factory. One sister has made $7 in one day. During the rush season, the women begin work at 7 a.m., and at times work until midnight. Brother works on boats. The family comes from Perry, Me., just for the summer months. Work is very irregular. Nan is already a spoiled child. Location: Eastport, Maine—1911.

Ah yes, nothing spoils a child like hard labor!

Rangeley Lake, North Shore - Mingo Springs Area 06/1973

Here’s a shot of Rangely Lake from ’73 which you could easily replicate today using the Valencia filter on Instagram.

Image from page 401 of "Bates Student" (1904)Bates College students, circa 1904. I find it unsettling that only one lad is sporting a moustache.

Victoria or Morse-Libby Mansion

The Morse-Libby Mansion in Portland.

Looking Across the Androscoggin River to the City of Auburn from the Lewiston Side ... 06/1973

 Looking across the Androscoggin River to Auburn from Lewiston.

Image from page 509 of "Mirror, 1908" (1908)

 Some sporting young men from Bates, circa 1908.

Image from page 140 of "Annual report of the State Board of Health of the State of Maine" (1885)

 “Annual report of the State Board of Health of the State of Maine” (1885)” BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN! 

Image from page 329 of "Maine in history and romance" (1915)Okay, this chap’s impressive beard makes up for the lack of facial hair on the Bate’s boys. I would like to mention the caption on this photo: Maine in history and romance” (1915), published by The Lewiston Journal by the Maine Federation of Women’s Clubs. 

Image from page 8 of "Bangor: its points of interest and its representative business men" (1891)

 From “Bangor and Its Points of Interest and Representative Businessmen.” — something tells me that they do not mention Diamonds in this city guide.

Image from page 514 of "Mirror, 1908" (1908)

 The Bates College newspaper thought it prudent to include this photograph of a dog smoking a pipe in their 1908 yearbook.

Image from page 169 of "Explorations and field-work of the Smithsonian Institution in .." (1912)

 Well HEL-LO “Alexander Sapin, Passamaquoddy 1908″ ! Do you happen to have a . . .great-great-great-great grandson? *wink* 

Image taken from page 245 of 'History of the City of Belfast in the State of Maine, from its first settlement in 1770 to 1875. (vol. II. 1875-1900 ... completed and edited by Alfred Johnson.)'A drawing of the City of Belfast, which sadly does not include Darby’s.

 I’ll leave you with this image which comes from a New England magazine of yore, and while it doesn’t specify Maine precisely, I can assure you that if you look back in the archives of my youth you’d find a similarly cheeky photograph of me and several comrades in the Penobscot Bay.

Image from page 12 of "Outdoors in New England" (1909)

No Danger—They can all sivim and farm country, there are a number of places which, by reason of altitude or the possession of curative waters, have come to rank among the leading health resorts of the country;for New England is today a recognized health resort, as well as a vacation pleasure ground.

Abby Norman

About Abby Norman

Abby Norman is a Maine writer and journalist. She reports and manages social media for Midcoast Maine’s VStv-88 and is working on a memoir to be released in Spring of 2017. She’s represented by Peter Tallack. She is a 2015 Stanford Medicine X ePatient Scholar, an advocate and speaker on endometriosis, foster care and autism. She is a member in good standing of The Society for Professional Journalists and the National Writer’s Union. She lives in Camden with her dog, Whimsy.