Gardiner — Nearly 27 years after Gay Grant first introduced historic photographs of the Kennebec Valley in her book, she returned to the same area for Volume Two.
“Around the Kennebec Valley: The Herman Bryant Collection” was released on Monday, and the Gardiner Public Library hosted a book launch event with Grant on Tuesday.
“I’m busy,” Grant said Tuesday, “what can I say?”
As the chairs were waiting to be delivered to the children’s room at the Gardiner Public Library on Tuesday, Dawn Thistle, assistant director and archivist at the Gardiner Public Libraries, said this was the first event the library has hosted. rice field. His bicentennial in 2020 in the state has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We already had someone buy the book (Monday), read it and take it home tonight,” said Thistle. “I expect to be a really great participant.”
Her latest book for South Gardiner, Grant, revisits the collection of photographer Herman Bryant, who captured everyday life in and around the Kennebec River Valley in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
It was her friend and neighbor Pauline Noot who introduced her to Bryant’s work. Pauline Noot had been given an archive of Bryant’s glass negatives and boxes of prints, albums and postcards by Minnie Bryant, a friend of Noot’s, the eldest daughter of the photographer. Grant cataloged the collection that Noot entrusted to her for the State Museum of Maine, which Grant searched for details about the people and places featured in her photographs, thus forming the basis of the book.
In October 1995, Arcadia Publishing’s Along the Kennebec: The Herman Bryant Collection was completed, featuring 200 images from over 1,000 catalogs.
Between then and now, life intervened. Grant worked on other projects, wrote another book, started a business, and served in the Maine legislature. But the collection still beckoned her, and she considered whether to update the original book — written largely without the vast amount of information currently available on the Internet — or write a new book. She chose a new book.
“With all the materials available, I knew it would be fun to do,” she said.
Some of that information came from people who recognized the photos in the first book and had even more stories. It had a series of notes and materials, and additional resources, such as information from the Historical Society.
Grant said he hoped to finish the second book in time for the first’s 25th anniversary, but the COVID-19 pandemic hit and closed the museum to the public.
“There’s only so much you can do online, but I had access to so much more in the archives there,” she said.
While she was at work, she was assisted by Ben Stickney, a thistle photography curator at the Maine State Museum, the Maine Maritime Museum, and the Gardiner Public Library.
“Without (Thistle), I would have been doing it for another year,” said Grant.
Azami said it was exciting to take an otherwise hidden historical collection and use archival room scanning technology to make it more accessible to people.
She also enlisted the help of Pittstone residents Dan Warren Jr. and Dan Moulton to recognize an acquaintance Bryant had filmed.
Grant says he’s not sure when he’ll publish a third book, but hopes to hear from people who recognize pictures of the latest book and can provide more information. I want to do that because I have.
“It might lead me to another book,” she said.
Tuesday’s event at Gardiner is the first of three planned events, all fundraising, where Grant will talk about the book and sign copies that people have purchased.
The beneficiary of Tuesday’s event is the Gardiner Library Association. This non-profit organization owns the building and land that houses the Gardiner Public Library. It also pays for capital improvements and funds the purchase of new equipment.
The library has purchased 150 copies of “Around the Kennebec Valley” for resale, and will continue to sell them after the event, Sisulu said.
On September 14th, Grant will raise a profit for the Belgrade Historical Society at the Belgrade Public Library and on September 15th at the Hope Baptist Church for the Kennebec Historical Society.
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