George Turner’s Scrimshaw Thimble

If you read the Enterprise Library Happenings column, you may have noticed mention of a question we received about a scrimshaw thimble. It turned out that the question was so fun and the thimble so adorable that it was worth turning into a blog post! 

We received an email from a staff member at the Montreal West Public Library who was working on cataloging a collection of thimbles donated to their location. (Check out Thimble Thursdays on their Facebook Page!) They knew that the maker of this thimble was George Turner of Falmouth MA, but had no other information about the artist, and wondered if we could help them. First we checked the Reference books we have on scrimshaw artists (helpfully titled Scrimshaw Artists and More Scrimshaw Artists) but they did not list a George Turner.

I then turned to the digitized historic Falmouth Enterprise to see if I could learn anything about a George Turner, and quickly found a detailed obituary of a prominent citizen, George Henry Turner, who lived from 1858 to 1939. And as a young man he’d spent time at sea on a whaler! He seemed like a very likely candidate for the creator of this thimble, and as a bonus I got to learn more about Falmouth History reading about his life. He was accidentally born in Cotuit, raised on a farm in Hatchville, went to sea young, came back to take over the family farm after his father died, ran multiple businesses including a fish market and a grocery store, and in his retirement years was known for driving around town in a venerable Model T. An all-encompassing Falmouth life!

If you know more about George Henry Turner you’d like to share with us, and especially if you know anything about this thimble, which was added to the collection by purchase in 1989, please be in touch! We can also put you in touch with the librarians at Montreal West who are caring for this little seagull now.

(Click on these newspaper clippings to enlarge them.)

Looking for America: Sculptor Hiram Powers’ Falmouth Legacy

In the Katharine Lee Bates entryway of the Main Library sits an elegant sculpture hidden in plain sight. Executed by world-renowned American-born Hiram Powers (1805-1873), the piece delights the viewer who happens to look up and notice. 

On Tuesday September 26th, at 4pm in the Hermann Meeting Room. Falmouth Museums on the Green’s Executive Director Rachel Lovett shares her research on Powers, his notable works, and how this historic piece came into the collection of the Falmouth Public Library.

This program is free to the public courtesy of a member of the Falmouth Historical Society Board of Trustees. All are welcome. Please register as space is limited.

Ulysses S. Grant: The Man and His Resting Place

Join Falmouth resident Mamundi Subhas on Wednesday July 26 at 2:00pm in the Hermann Room for a lecture titled Ulysses S. Grant: The Man and His Resting Place.

Subhas has been a volunteer since 2017 at the Ulysses S. Grant National Monument (aka “Grant’s Tomb,” in New York City) and has developed a strong interest in the Union Army General and Eighteenth President. Join us to hear him share stories of this historic American’s life, and share life lessons he has learned from learning about Grant.

All are welcome; please register.

Great Decisions 2023

Great DecisionsAmerica’s largest civic discussion program on world affairs, is coming back to the Falmouth Public Library.  On Wednesday nights starting on May 31st and ending on September 6th, we will meet bi-weekly to discuss one of eight critical foreign policy challenges facing Americans in a non-partisan, open environment.  Prior to each session, participants will read the relevant chapter in the Great Decisions Briefing Book and watch the corresponding Master Class on DVD, which are available for checkout to participants at the reference desk.  Participants are encouraged to attend all eight sessions but you may choose to attend only certain topics.  Registration is required for each session and will be limited to 20 participants.  This program is sponsored by the Library Support Fund.

Energy Geopolitics …… Register Here
Wednesday, May 31st from 7pm-8:30pm in the Hermann meeting room
How will changes in the energy industries impact relations between countries?  Access to oil and gas has long held an influence over the politics of individual nations and their relations with others. But as more countries move toward sustainable energy, and supply chain shortages affect the availability of oil and gas, how will this change the way in which the United States interacts with the outside world? By Carolyn Kissane
War Crimes …… Register Here
Wednesday, June 14th from 7pm-8:30pm in the Hermann meeting room
What is a war crime? How does this definition apply to recent events in Ukraine?  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in widespread charges of war crimes and calls for justice. But what exactly are war crimes? Opinions of what constitutes a war crime have evolved, as have ways to identify and punish the perpetrators. How will the war crimes committed in Ukraine be dealt with? By Francine Hirsch
China and the U.S. …… Register Here
Wednesday, June 28th from 7pm-8:30pm in the Hermann meeting room
How will the United States respond to China’s growing global presence?  For the past ten years, the United States and China have been locked in a competition for who has the greatest global influence. One major point of contention is the status of Taiwanese sovereignty, which has become even more relevant recently with the possibility that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may prompt China to take similar action regarding Taiwan. How will the United States engage a China which is increasingly seeking to expand its sphere of influence? By David Lampton
Economic Warfare …… Register Here
Wednesday, July 12th from 7:30pm-8:30pm in the Hermann meeting room
What comprises economic warfare? How have these measures been used recently against Russia?  Waging economic warfare consists of a variety of measures from implementing sanctions to fomenting labor strikes. Such tools are utilized by states to hinder their enemies, and in the case of the United States have been used as far back as the early 19th century. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, economic warfare has been the main means for the west to challenge Russia. How effective will these sanctions be at convincing Russia to cease its war? By Jonathan Chanis
Politics in Latin America …… Register Here
Wednesday, July 26th from 7pm -8:30pm in the Hermann meeting room
What does the emergence of various left-wing governments mean for countries in Latin America? Electoral results in Latin America over the past four years have led many observers of the regional/political scene to discern a left-wing surge in the hemisphere, reminiscent of the so-called “Pink Tide” that swept the area some 20 years ago. But how much do these politicians actually have in common? What implication does their ascendency have for the region? By Jorge Castañeda
Global Famine …… Register Here
Wednesday, August 9th from 7pm-8:30pm in the Hermann meeting room
What causes famine? How can it be prevented in the future?  Fears of global food shortages have followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted grain shipments from the major grain producer. But what about countries and regions that were suffering before this impending shortage? How is famine defined, and how is it different from simple food shortages? What if any remedies are there? By Daniel Maxwell
Iran at a Crossroads …… Register Here
Wednesday, August 23rd from 7pm-8:30pm in the Hermann meeting room
What is the future for relations between Iran and the U.S.?  By the fall of 2022, Iran was in a state of turmoil due to widespread protests against government-enforced wearing of the hijab, a failing economy, an ineffective new president, and the looming succession of the country’s leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Abroad, renewal of the Iran nuclear deal seemed doubtful and tensions remain high between Iran, Israel, and Arab states. Many Iranians have lost hope of a better future, and the country seems at a crossroads. How should the United States deal with it? By Lawrence Potter
Climate Migration …… Register Here
Wednesday, September 6th from 7pm-8:30pm in the Hermann meeting room
How is climate change impacting human migration?  As climate change accelerates and drought and rising sea levels become more common, millions of people in affected regions must uproot themselves and seek safety elsewhere. Who are these affected individuals, and how might the United States aid them, and be affected by the migration? By Karen Jacobsen

A Day in the Life of a Whaler

We are excited to welcome 2 docents from the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Captain Michael HM Taylor and Nancy Gentile, on Wednesday, May 24th at 2 pm, for a talk at the Falmouth Public Library! Register by clicking here

They will present “A Day in the Life of a Whaler” – with in depth descriptions of life onboard a typical New Bedford whaler, captain and crew, the whale hunt, whale processing and intrepid wives who accompanied their husbands. Added features will include a real baleen and spermaceti candle demonstration!

Mr. Taylor spent the first half of his career in the British Merchant Navy, starting as Apprentice in 1958 and rising to Ships Master. He has sailed in all classes of vessels and to ports all over the world. In 1978, he came to the United States to manage vessels trading with project cargoes to N. Africa and the Middle East. Later he was a Vice President at Maritime International New Bedford, with responsibility for sales and developing refrigerated ocean cargoes. After retiring, he farmed in S. America before returning to Massachusetts where he now volunteers as a docent at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Nancy Gentile spent 39 years as a research librarian in various capacities in private and public libraries. After stints at the Newton Public Library and Millipore Corporation, her longest tenure was as Head of Adult Services at the Robbins Library in Arlington, Ma. She also managed the Robbins Print Collection. Nancy has been a docent at the New Bedford Whaling Museum since 2017. She enjoys giving tours to student groups and to visiting adults weekly. Nancy resides in Mattapoisett with her husband Mark.

This event is free and sponsor by the Library Trustees.  Please register by clicking here, or contact the reference department at 508-457-2555 x 7 or

Nobska Author Talk with Ben Carnevale

Please join the Falmouth Public Library and Neighborhood Falmouth on Thursday March 30 at 1:30 PM in the Hermann Meeting Room for an author talk with Ben Carnevale, author of the book Nosbka. Locals and tourists alike pass Nobska Lighthouse in Woods Hole every day. We take comfort in Nobska’s beauty and powerful fourth-order beam. The book takes a close look inside Nobska with photos and text to reveal the history from one of America’s most beloved lighthouses.

A native of Newton, MA, Ben Carnevale was educated in electrical and electronic engineering. He worked for various major companies on the Redstone (first space mission) and Jupiter missiles, Sparrow and Hawk missiles, Missile Master Air Defense System Nike missiles, and worked in R&D on the first printed circuit boards and first computer. He holds six company level patents, two personal US patents pending, and has published two books. A U.S. Air Force Korean war veteran, Ben was a proud member of the famed Eddie Rickenbacker 94th Hat in the ring Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Ben has lived on Cape Cod since 1999.

Neighborhood Falmouth is a non-profit organization that provides support services to seniors in the Falmouth community. The organization aims to help seniors live independently and maintain their quality of life by providing services such as transportation, grocery shopping, yard work, minor home repairs, and friendly visits. Neighborhood Falmouth operates on a volunteer-based model, where volunteers from the community are matched with seniors who need assistance. This allows seniors to receive personalized support while also fostering a sense of community and connection among volunteers and seniors. 

This event is free and open to the public. Please register.

March series on National Parks Service Units

Tewksbury Library has invited other libraries to participate in this March weekly Zoom series at noon featuring National Park Service Units in Massachusetts, so we are posting links to the registration!  Please note that you must register on their site to get the Zoom links-click below for the links to registration and full descriptions-attend any or all! Recordings will be provided to registrants after the lectures.

March 1st at 12 pm: Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site Presents ‘Olmsted’s Life & Legacy, click here for the link

March 8th at 12 pm: Longfellow House-Washington’s HQ National Historic Site Presents “Past & Present Here Unite”, click here for the link.

March 15th at 12 pm: Boston African American National Historic Site Presents ‘Explore The Black Heritage Trail’, click here for the link.

March 22nd at 12 pm: New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park Presents ‘Stories From The Whaling Port’, click here for the link.

March 29th at 12 pm:  John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site Presents ‘From Beals St. To The White House, click here for the link.


Falmouth Enterprise now Online 1896-2017, featuring A Party at the Dump!

We are excited to announce that we now have a new host for the digital Falmouth Enterprise, and instead of stopping at 1962, the entire range from 1896-2017 is now searchable online. We are grateful to the Enterprise for their permission to put these recent years online, and to the Board of Library Trustees for their support of this project. Library staff have tested it thoroughly by serarching for themselves (and finding some amusing childhood memories, among other things) – give it a try yourself! Contact us at the Reference Desk if you need any help getting started.

Of course, the first thing I did was to search for information about that party at the dump question from last July. Back then, we took to Facebook to ask for help finding articles in the Enterprise about a party held at the town dump:

Apparently some time in the later 1960s or early 1970s, there was a large benefit party that was black tie but was held at the Town Dump. Paul E. White was not invited, but decided to dress up in 1920s attire, drive a 1920s vehicle with “Dump or Bust” painted on the side, and crash the event. He was allowed to attend. His daughter Rena is sure there were articles in the Enterprise about both the benefit party, and the crashing of it by her father. 
Many did have a memory of this event, and suggested years and people involved (notably Al Lawrence, which was correct), but nobody could pin it down. I searched April-October in the microfilm Enterprise for the years 1968-1972 without success.
It turns out I would never have found it even if I’d gotten to 1973, because the party took place in March! A party at the Town Dump in March – that month of shivers, and either snow or mud? Indeed it was. With a tent, and furs, and black tie, and champagne, and arrival by helicopter, and an Air Force band! Read on…
First notice of the party appeared in an article published February 16, 1973, reporting on the events of the benefit auction in support of the Heart Fund. Four hundred people were in attendance, but the excitement of the evening was clearly the bidding for a “cocktail party for 25 at the Town Dump,” put forward by Al Lawrence, and won by Francis L. Empey with a high bid of $500.
The excitement was already building before the day of the party. On Friday March 9 the Enterprise declared, “Guest List Grows for Party of Year, Champagne and Lobster at the Dump.” This front-page article described the widespread interest (including from Channel 6 news), and listed the expected attendees by name.  
The reporting after the party continued the gleeful tone. On Tuesday March 13 the story was page 1, with a photo, captioned “What a Dump: Champagne and Furs at the Sanitary Landfill.”
The article went on to describe the party in detail. About 30 couples officially attended, all in formal attire (although some wore work boots with tuxedoes), but some 1000 more people also turned up, perhaps to legitimately drop off items, as the dump was open for business, perhaps just to look on. Heavy traffic was reported in the area, and Edmund T. McClung directed traffic in a high hat and tails. Did I mention this party was a daytime party, occurring between 11am and 2:30pm?
The guests arrived by helicopter, ten-ton sanitation truck, wheelbarrow, hearse, and Rolls-Royce. They drank eight cases of champagne and ate 50 pounds of lobster salad. They danced to music provided by the Four Aces. They took rides on dump vehicles at $10 a pop as an additional fundraiser, and the table centerpieces, created from dump materials, were also auctioned off. I blame the champagne for the fact that “a syndicate formed inside the tent and bid a couple of hundred dollars for one of the guests’ tuxedo trousers.” Overall an additional $1500 was raised for the Heart Fund.
Later that week the town was still talking, as a page of photos appeared on p. 15 of the Enterprise for March 16, 1973. Here are just two of them:
The one disappointment of this story is I could find no mention of the remembered crashing of this party by Paul White. It may well have occurred, but the Enterprise did not report on it! 

Lethal Tides with Catherine Musemeche

Join us on Wednesday, November 9th at 6:30pm in the Hermann meeting room as we welcome author Catherine Musemeche.  She will be speaking about her latest book Lethal Tides: Mary Sears and the Marine Scientists Who Helped Win World War II.  To register for this author talk and book signing, click here

“Weaving together science, biography, and military history, Lethal Tides is a powerful, revelatory history essential to our understanding of oceanography and naval strategy, and – more importantly – chronicles the gripping story of an unsung woman who was pivotal to the U.S.’s success against Japan in WWII.”  

Catherine Musemeche is a graduate of the University of Texas McGovern Medical School in Houston, Texas and the University of Texas School of Law.  She has been a pediatric surgeon for more than three decades.  Catherine’s first book, Small, was longlisted for the E.O. Wilson/Pen American Literary Science Award and was awarded the Texas Writer’s League Discovery Prize for Nonfiction in 2015.  Her second book, Hurt, was named one of the top ten EMS books of the decade.  She has also contributed to Smithsonian Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times’ “Motherlode” blog,, Creative Nonfiction magazine and EMS World.

This event is free to the public and copies of her book will be available from Eight Cousins for purchase at the event.

Cape Cod Archaeology: Past, Present, and Future

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we invite you to join us for a lecture about the archaeology of Cape Cod. There are two options to attend: join us in person, in the Hermann Meeting Room at 6:30pm on Wednesday November 16, or use a Zoom link that will be provided upon registration to attend virtually from home.

Above and below-ground archaeological artifacts and features provide a partial view into the 12,000-year human history of Cape Cod. Archaeologist Holly Herbster will discuss what sites on the Cape can tell us, how archaeological study has changed, and how the field fits into other ways of knowing about the past. 

Holly Herbster is a Senior Archaeologist/Principal Investigator at the Public Archeology Laboratory, Inc. Over the past 25 years she has directed more than 200 projects in southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard, ranging from primary background research to large-scale archaeological excavations. She has collaborated extensively with Native American groups in Massachusetts and her research focus includes documentary and ethnohistoric studies, especially those related to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Nipmuc and Wampanoag communities. She is a co-author of the book Historical Archaeology and Indigenous Collaboration: Discovering Histories That Have Futures which was the Society for American Archaeology’s 2021 scholarly book award winner.