Museum posts Bowdoin image archive

Apr 07, 2014
Source: Penobscot Marine Museum Bowdoin Captain MacMillan is pictured being presented with flowers on Monhegan Island, where the vessel stopped upon its return from Greenland.

Searsport — The John Booras Collection of historic photographs of the schooner Bowdoin, probably taken in 1924 on a return voyage of Arctic exploration from Greenland, is now online at PenobscotMarineMuseum.org.

Most of these 140 photographs were taken at a stop the Bowdoin made on Monhegan Island, and they provide an intimate look at an Arctic expedition making its way home. A native-made kayak, a young girl in native Greenlandic dress and northern dogs are seen on board ship. The Bowdoin’s famous captain Admiral Donald B. MacMillan, who was recruited for Arctic exploration by Robert E. Peary, is being presented with flowers by local children.

John Booras, a retired postman who collects and researches old photographs, found these negatives in a shop in Massachusetts, bought the collection and returned it to Maine by donating it to the Penobscot Marine Museum.

The schooner Bowdoin was built in East Boothbay in 1920-21 and was designed specifically for Arctic exploration at Admiral MacMillan’s request after he spent four years stranded in northern Greenland. MacMillan made more than 30 expeditions to the Arctic and, according to the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum he “pioneered the use of radios, airplanes, and electricity in the Arctic, brought back films and thousands of photographs of Arctic scenes, and put together a dictionary of the Inuktikut language.” Together, Admiral MacMillan and the Bowdoin made more than 26 voyages and sailed more than 300,000 miles. The Bowdoin is currently owned by the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine and used as a training vessel. In 1989, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Penobscot Marine Museum expressed gratitude to Mildred Jones of the Bowdoin College Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum for her invaluable research on the John Booras Collection.  Penobscot Marine Museum has one of the largest archives of historical photographs in Maine, with more than 140,000 negatives, prints, slides, postcards and daguerreotypes available for research, reproduction and licensing. Revealing many aspects of life from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, the collections range from vast archives to the works of individual professional photographers and intimate family albums.

The Penobscot Marine Museum, 40 East Main St./Route 1, will re-open for Monday through Saturday hours May 24. For more information, visit penobscotmarinemuseum.org or call 548-2529 or 0334.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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