Mary Lewis' wedding day cape, circa 1773, in the MHS photo studio. This was the first item photographed as part of the project in February 2019. At the age of 21, Lewis, from Cousins Island, wed Captain Daniel Mitchell, who served in the Penobscot Expedition. PHOTO COURTESY OF JAMIE RICE/MHS

Online portal allows access to historic clothing collection 

BAR HARBOR  Maine Historical Society (MHS) has launched a new digital portal that gives public access to its significant collection of historic clothing, made possible in part by a $134,184 grant in 2018 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The grant supported the initiative to improve the care, access and management of MHS’s Maine-related clothing dating from the late 1700s through the 20th century.  

Professionally executed by project curatorial staff, consulting historians and interns, this two-year project rehoused and improved the cataloging of nearly 1,200 historic garments (roughly 3,000 pieces), which included moving the items to MHS’s offsite collections management storage center that provides optimum environmental conditions. Project staff dressed mannequins and photographed the pieces, adding digital images to the MHS collections database, and created an online guide to the collection providing greater context for the materials.   

Accessing a new online guide via a portal on the Maine Memory Network (, the public can browse the collection by time period or themes. The portal’s narratives, authored by noted textile and dress historian Jaqueline Field, are illustrated with high-resolution digital photography that enables audiences to see the garments from multiple angles.   

Clothing and accessories in the collection are associated with people or families who lived in Maine, were made by Maine people, or are somehow connected to the state. To view the collection, visit  

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