Penobscot Marine Museum Offers Free Online Archive Access

Steamboat Landing, Belfast ME, Eastern Collection. Photo/Penobscot Marine Museum.

The Penobscot Marine Museum has announced the opening of its “virtual museum”—an online visual database to make its collections available to anyone, anywhere.

Access to the database is free and no registration is required. Only a web browser is needed to view information and photographs of New England and elsewhere, many more than 100 years old. The database may be accessed via the museum’s website at

Ships in harbor (Boston, Massachusetts?), Ruth Montgomery Photographic Collection. Photo/Penobscot Marine Museum.

“In Penobscot Marine Museum’s 75th year, we have created a new ‘museum without walls’ that enables people everywhere to explore our collections for research, education, or just plain fun,” said Executive Director Liz Lodge. “It’s an extraordinary achievement for a small regional museum—one that will boost our stature nationally and worldwide.”

More than 45,000 records are online, almost 29,000 of them with photographs. The records are from 6 of the museum’s collections of historic photographs, dating from the 1880s to the 1950s. Most of the photos are of Maine scenes, but there are also images from other New England and East Coast states, China and the Caribbean. More records will be added in the coming weeks.

Collections now online in the database include:

  • The Atlantic Fisherman Collection: photographs from the fishing industry’s most important newspaper, from 1919 to the 1950s
  • The Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co. Collection: This postcard publisher, based in Belfast, Maine, took tens of thousands of photographs throughout New England and upstate New York from 1909 into the 1950s, concentrating mainly on small towns.
  • The Joanna Colcord and Ruth Montgomery collections: Two sea captains’ daughters who went to sea and took hundreds of photographs documenting life on sailing ships in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • The Elmer Montgomery and Charles Coombs collections: Two photographers from the Penobscot Bay region of Maine recorded their towns and neighborhoods, including social gatherings, waterfront scenes, and architecture.

In addition to conducting research or browsing old photos for fun, users may order prints of photographic images through the website and request licensing or permission for commercial uses.

To read more:

Penobscot Marine Museum Online Collections


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