Waldo County Through Eastern’s Eye
When R. Herman Cassens founded the Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company of Belfast in 1909, he unknowingly set the stage for not only this exhibit, but for a unique legacy to the entire state of Maine and other New England states. Cassens’ vision was to photograph small towns and rural areas, and he sent his crews to out of the way places, where they were instructed to consult with the local residents about what to photograph. It must have been an exciting day when the Eastern Illustrating photographer toting bulky box cameras showed up in his Maxwell in tiny places such as Monroe, Burnham, and Prospect.
The end result of Casssen’ approach to creating post cards for sale—and at one time his successful company was the largest real photo post card business in the United States—was an enduring look at aspects of life that probably went largely unnoticed by nearly everyone. Barns, fences, small boats, swimming holes, churches, schools, social events, baseball games, post offices, churches, factories--all were documented. The extraordinary feature of the collection is that it is so very ordinary in content. The saying that “all history is local” was never more applicable than it is to this collection. People are fascinated by these photos because they depict such common scenes and events. The views are different—but not so very much.
This exhibit was created with the help of the many different historical societies and historians of Waldo County and their input is greatly appreciated. Connecting with the local community is part of the Penobscot Marine Museum’s mission. Become a member today and help us preserve and share our history.