Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum
The Millinocket Literary Club was organized in October of 1937 by a small group of prominent women in town. In the early secretary’s reports, each lady was mentioned as Mrs. Hume or Mrs. MacKay with no first name given. Membership was limited at twenty, dues would be $.25 a month and meetings were held on the second and last Wednesday of the month. Although it was established as a literary club, the focus was not only on books but also to “promote the intellectual growth of its members and to encourage an interest in social, civic and moral questions of the day.”
Business meetings were brief. In the 1930’s, 15 minutes at the start of each meeting was devoted to current events (theater, dance, art). The remainder of the meeting was a discussion of topics of the time and on the scheduled program. Each meeting had a program chairman who enlisted 4 or 5 others to assist coming up with a theme and presenting the program (poems, stories, songs, news or magazine articles).
Meetings and special events for the group were frequently held at the Great Northern Hotel. Other times, the group met at member’s homes.
In addition to the regular meetings, they held a yearly luncheon, dinner or banquet. Spouses and guests were often invited to special events such as when the Hamlet Players from UM performed or a speaker such as Maine author Robert Tristram Coffin shared his work. During WWII, the club donated to the Red Cross and sent books to soldiers.
In the early 1950’s, the Millinocket Junior Literary Club was formed and for a while followed the format of the original group. Community involvement was a priority. In 1953, a committee called Better Movies for Millinocket was formed. The club had a representative on the Recreation Commission. A poetry contest at the elementary schools was popular for many years (1968-2000). Early in the 1970’s, the club took on the decorating of the large bulletin board in the Children’s Room at the public library and arranging a themed display in the three glass cases at the library. A book illustration contest at the elementary level started in 2001 and has since changed to an art illustration contest (on hold since Covid arrived).
The original literary club disbanded about 1993 due to lack of members. Any remaining joined with the Junior group. Though some things have changed (only one meeting Sept.-May), focus still is literary with programs each meeting and community involvement with the school contests, SHS senior scholarship and more. The Millinocket Literary Club plans to become active again this fall after a hiatus due to Covid.