Newspapers and Scrapbooks – A Goldmine of Peaks Island History

Newspapers, clippings, and scrapbooks are well-represented in the collection of the Fifth Maine Museum. Until very recently people got the majority of their news from local papers and magazines.  Stories from the magnificent to the mundane filled the pages, often amply illustrated with engravings (in the 19th century) and photographs (in the 20th).

Bowling leagues, escaped parakeets, new chalkboards, and an impressively determined milkweed plant all made the papers. Many of the “local interest” stories that filled newspapers right through the 1980s seem quaint and humorous to our modern eye, but are they any more peculiar than the average person’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feed?

Of particular note in the Fifth Maine archive is the Volume 1, Number 1 issue of The Island Daily, dated June 23, 1884. Devoted specifically to Peaks Island, and, to a lesser extent, news of other Portland islands, the plan was to produce a paper 6 days a week in the summer, according to this first issue. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that any other issues were ever published.

Scrapbooking was a popular hobby on Peaks Island, as it was elsewhere. People of all ages clipped articles, usually related to a theme, and carefully pasted them into large-format books specially designed for that purpose. Luckily, many of these made it into our collection. It takes time to tease specific information out of these sources, which are almost always unindexed, but patient researchers are rewarded with a clearer picture of everyday life on Peaks Island than can be found anywhere else.

Want to see the scrapbooks for yourselves? Watch for our members event, “Dive into the Archive Room,” hosted by Fifth Maine Museum Curator, Holly Hurd-Forsyth — details to be announced on our calendar page later this spring. Research appointments are also available. For more information, email