Rockland Historical Society spearheaded the addition

A new Family History Center is built in the Rockland Public Library

Contains vintage Midcoast photographs, negatives, and newspapers
Tue, 11/30/2021 - 8:45am

    ROCKLAND—For Midcoast history buffs, a new Family History Center built into the lower level of the Rockland Public Library is sure to be a treasure trove. Spearheaded by the Rockland Historical Society, which has rooms adjacent on the lower floor of the library, the room is filled with shelves of old Courier-Gazette negatives, boxes of old photos from photographer Jim Moore, who worked for the Courier-Gazette and The Portland Press Herald, as well as bound volumes of the Courier Gazette along the back wall, which are the morgue of the Courier Gazette from 2000 through 2017.

    “For those years, [Courier-Gazette] stopped paying to have the newspapers converted into microfilm,” said Rockland Historical Society curator Ann Morris of the newspaper collection. “So, these are the only copies of newspapers during those years in existence and they asked if we could store them here.”

    Currently, five students from Oceanside High School are using the room for a special project designed to collect oral histories and research the histories of old buildings and industries that have disappeared from Rockland’s economy. Working with retired college professor Steve Merriam, the students are engaged in piecing together written newspaper accounts with oral histories of local residents.

    “We are working with high school juniors and seniors once a week and our focus is on oral histories and on industries that are rapidly fading,” said Merriam. “The two research interests they have are on the NSKK motorcycle club in Rockland in the 1970s and the earliest media around the Maine Lobster Festival. We’ve uncovered some 1964 footage of the Lobster Festival and will be working on a project with that this week.”

    “Two weeks ago, we invited four Rockland residents who lived here in the 1970s and the students asked them questions, collected oral histories, and learned about the context for the motorcycle gangs,” he said.

    When complete, these stories will be published on a student-created website.

    “Our job through the Rockland Historical Society and the Family Center is to provide resources for students to engage their imaginations,” said Merriam.

    Pen Bay Pilot will be doing a series of stories on the students’ history projects brought–to-life in the coming months, so stay tuned.

    Kay Stephens can be reached at