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Home > Exhibits > Workaday World of Maine

Workaday World of Maine

The photographs in this display were taken in the 1930s and 1940s by George W. French (1882 –1970) for the Maine Development Commission. They represent a sample of the extensive collection of French’s negatives at the Archives.

These images reflect one of French’s favorite themes – the everyday life of ordinary Mainers as they went about their daily chores in their homes, on their farms and in their occupations.

To order reproductions of any of these materials from our holdings contact the Maine State Archives at 207-287-5795.

photo of George French's mother peeling apples

George French’s mother at the French homestead, Kezar Falls, 1943. Look carefully and you’ll see she is using a labor-saving device to core and peel her apples.

photo of  a couple in Northast Harbor, 1944, with a loom in their greenhouse

Keeping busy in Northeast Harbor, 1944. For some reason, these folks have set up their loom in a greenhouse!

photo of people harvesting potatos in Aroostook County

It’s September and potato harvesting time in Caribou. Some schools in Aroostook County close for several weeks so kids can help out with the harvest.

photo of people harvesting blueberries in Columbia Falls in 1946

Harvesting blueberries in Columbia Falls, Washington County, 1946. These are low-bush wild blueberries which must be raked and crated.

photo of a group of women picking over blueberries before processing and sale

Blueberries are picked over before being shipped to market or processed by canning or freezing. Seasonal operations like the annual blueberry crop provided extra income for local women and children.

photo of Dan Chapman, a blacksmith in 1944

In 1944, blacksmiths, like Dan A. Chapman pictured here, were in considerable demand. Because of the war, gasoline was rationed, automobile and truck manufacturing was diverted to military production and spare parts were very difficult to find. Many farmers had to rely on horses, mules and oxen.

photo of the wooden ribs of a ship being built in a Thomaston shipyard in 1946

A Thomaston shipyard in 1946. Possibly one of the last few wooden commercial vessels ever to be built in Maine.

photo of a man whittling wooden pegs to be used on lobster claws

Today the dangerous claws of live lobsters are held shut by heavy rubber bands or plastic pegs. The traditional way was to use wooden pegs. Whittling the pegs was a good way to spend the day when it was too stormy to go lobstering.

photo of people harvesting corn

This corn might very well have been taken to a local cannery such as the one in Fryeburg, 1937.

photo inside a corn cannery in Fryeburg 1937

Small canneries such as this Corn Cannery in Fryeburg from 1937 abounded in or near rural communities throughout Maine. Operating seasonally during the corn, string bean or other agricultural harvests, they were a vital part of the local economy. Very few survived at the beginning of this century.

photo of a logdrive in Limington in 1937

Log Drive in Limington, 1937.

photo of apples in apple crates at Douglas Orchards in Sebago 1944

Apples at Douglas Orchards, Sebago, 1944.

photo of a hayfield in Parsonsfield

Hayfield at Parsonsfield, nd.

photo of building canoes at the factory in Old Town in 1942

Building canoes at the world-famous factory in Old Town, 1942.

photo of men unloading fish into barrels in Friendship in 1940

Unloading fish in Friendship, 1940.