SOUTHWEST HARBOR – The Pemetic yearbooks spanning from 1921 to 1968 can now be viewed online using the Southwest Harbor Public Library’s digital archive. The Pemetic began in 1921 as the yearbook for Southwest Harbor High School. When the present-day brick building was constructed in 1938, the school became Pemetic High School, but the yearbook remained the Pemetic. The dedication page of the 1939 edition says “To you, members of the Building Committee representing the taxpayers of Southwest Harbor, we respectfully dedicate this issue of the Pemetic in appreciation of your unselfish interest in affording us our new educational opportunities.” The last class graduated in 1968 prior to the opening of MDI High School in 1969. The building remains in use today as the Pemetic Elementary School.
These student-produced yearbooks, most covering grades seven through twelve, provide a youthful perspective of life on Mount Desert Island going back nearly a century. Each book contains photographs of students and staff, sports teams, cheerleaders, theater and music groups, clubs and societies, and student government. The contents include editorial and creative writing, poetry, humor and information about individual students and their achievements. The back of every issue contains advertising by local businesses, some of which are operating today.
The photographs and copy in these publications reveal how different and how similar young people are today compared to their parent’s and grandparent’s generations. The books from the period during WWII are particularly interesting in light of what we are living through right now. During those years, students faced the challenge by selling war stamps, forming an air raid warden’s squad and introducing a nationwide wartime organization known as the Victory Corps. Some even left school to join the service. Despite the darkness and fear of that time, students still attended classes, played sports, performed plays and concerts, and wrote poetry, just as they always have and always will. In the 1943 yearbook, freshman Edith Farley penned these insightful words: “Though war is rampant in the world, and costs and taxes soar, the simple worthwhile things of life cost not one penny more.”
Each yearbook is in a downloadable PDF file and the text is searchable. Additionally, most of the books from 1937 to 1959 are accompanied by original photographs taken for the school by Southwest Harbor photographer Willis Ballard.
The library does not have the 1925 yearbook. If you have a copy that could be scanned, email [email protected] or call (207) 244-7065.
To view the Pemetic yearbooks, and 11,500 other items related to the history of Southwest Harbor and MDI, visit www.swhplibrary.net/pemetic.