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Cyanotypes in our Collections

A recent visitor to the museum mentioned he had a “blue photograph.” These are referred to as cyanotypes and the museum has several of them. These photographic prints are from the late 1800’s - early 1900’s and show amazingly sharp detail for their size. Most are about 4” x 6”. This photographic process was first used in the early 1840’s. Simply stated, it involves sensitizing a paper with two types of iron salts. After drying, the paper is then placed in direct contact with the negative and exposed to sunlight until the image appears. The print is then rinsed with water to draw out the brilliant blue color. Early photographers used this method - thus the name blueprints.

One collection at the museum contains fifty-three cyanotypes and has scenes of homes under construction, the mill, Stone Dam, the first jail, a store that appears to be a bakery or candy shop, the Gas House, and ice cutting on Millinocket Stream. Among the homes shown is the George Stearns house on Highland Avenue with a woman, possibly Mrs. Stearns in a long black dress, standing on the porch. One photo is a view of work being done digging into the hill on Central Street. Another view, from the opposite direction shows the intersection of Penobscot Avenue and Central Street with several businesses visible. Four of the photos are possibly interior views of the GN Hotel (lobby, bedroom views, a barber chair, and an early industrial-type kitchen).

A second group of these cyanotypes shows the exteriors of the Great Northern Hotel and the Mountain View Hotel. There are several views of Penobscot Avenue showing various stores and businesses as well as wagon and buggy ruts in the dirt street. Two pictures show a Fourth of July horse and buggy parade. The Laverty collection has cyanotype views of Shack Hill and very early Little Italy.

New items received in 2021: Millinocket Trust Co. money bag, dictionary of paper trade terms, photo SHS band in front of US Capitol (Sandra Michaud); photos, playbills, news articles from Millinocket Players productions (Patrick Welch III). Patrick Welch Jr. created many great characters in many performances with that local theater group.

Museum open Thursday, Friday, Saturday Noon-3PM, weather permitting!

In the Museum Store!

*** Get your 2021 Calendars! Theme: Millinocket, Oh! How We’ve Changed! $12 each, mail orders add $5 SH each calendar. Each page has several photos from different areas of town!

*** Preowned yearbooks - $10.00 each.

*** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin.

*** DVD’s, Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each).

***Books: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks - $15.00; both Laverty books, $25 history & $10 architecture; “Our Real World,” (M. Murphy); “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00 and several preowned books (out of print) by local authors.

*** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item.

*** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or or the Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, on the web at or on Facebook.

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